Excuse me, would you like to dance?
When was the last time you asked someone that question or someone asked you that question? You may wonder, why are we bringing that up. The answer is because April 29 is International Dance Day.
Not only is dancing one of the oldest forms of entertainment, it is a part of almost every culture around the world. Martha Graham, a famous dancer and choreographer said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul.”
In fact, dancing, as an art form, is almost as old as the human race. There are hieroglyphics showing dancing as far back as 3300 BC in Egyptian times. Every nation and culture uses dance as a form of artistic impression. In America, dancing has been so popular that sometimes decades are known for a particular style of dancing. Let’s look down memory lane.
For example, the 1920s had Swing. Big Bands were very popular for several decades, which encouraged people to engage in dancing.
Do you remember the 1950s and 1960s when we had Jive music and Rock 'n' Roll? Who can forget the rotating mirrored ball and Disco in the 1970s! Anyone still have their bell bottom pants?
Break dancing started in the 1980s. We think it was called that, because if you tried it, you might break something! Can anyone still do the Macarena from the 1990s? Plus, this decade started Hip-Hop dancing.
I (Doug) was fortunate to grow up a short drive from the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Surf Ballroom is an American cultural icon and, as of this year, a National Historic Landmark. It was a must-stop destination for all the big bands of the time.
I remember dancing to the bands of Stan Kenton, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and the Dorsey bands when they performed there. Then as rock and roll became more popular, acts like Little Richard, The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison would perform. It was all amazing!
Maybe you remember that the Surf Ballroom is also known as the last stop for Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson. On Feb. 2, 1959, they were all there performing at the famed Winter Dance Party, along with Dion and The Belmonts.
After the concert, Holly, Valens Richardson, boarded a small plane that crashed shortly after takeoff killing everyone on board. That day would be remembered forever and immortalized by Don McLean as “The Day the Music Died," in his 1972 anthem, "American Pie."
Dancing is more than just having fun on a dance floor. You can even do it while cleaning. It’s great exercise for the whole body as well as training for your brain and motor skills. Because there can be a partner, or others involved, it takes some teamwork and improves social skills. Dancing is also great for raising mood. We like a quote by author Amit Kalantri, “The job of feet is walking, but their hobby is dancing.”
For me, (Lynn), I’m reminded of dancing by a beautiful book given to me by a friend, Jan. This is one of those easy-to-read and uplifting books that gets reread often. It’s titled, "I Hope You Dance." The song and lyrics were written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers and put in the book, with an introduction by Lee Ann Womack. In 2000, Womack sang the song and made it a hit.
The lyrics are beautiful. It points out that you don’t need a partner or anyone else to dance — you can dance by yourself and really enjoy it, too. It gives many examples of how to fully live life such as, “I hope you never lose your sense of wonder.”
It reminds me to take time to actually see God’s many beautiful creations and to be grateful for all the good in life. Life is precious. Sometimes I find myself just swaying back and forth to that song running through my head, along with this important message, “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance … I hope you dance.”
How about you? What does dancing mean to you? Do you take time to actually move to some music?
Whether you’re dancing with a partner, a group or by yourself, we encourage you to let yourself go and thoroughly experience delight in your dancing. As you dance, it will help you gain the many health benefits for your body, mind and spirit.
And remember, to enjoy life even more, we hope you dance!