The Importance of Dance (03/01/2018)
When DeMolay comes to mind, there are a few iconic events every DeMolay can identify with: sporting events, Conclave, and dances. These dances are great opportunities to build skills that benefit a DeMolay both in his activities in the Order, and well beyond his time as an active member.
Dancing: an activity shunned or embraced by DeMolays everywhere. For my purposes, this is not the Electric Slide, nor is it shuffling in a circle with a partner (an issue for another day). I’m talking about when the DJ puts on a fresh track that makes all the Advisors wince, and all the DeMolays turn to either retreat to the "onlookers section” or join the clump of people standing on the dance floor (80% of which aren’t dancing).
If you can dance, what else could you do that seems impossible? Regardless of how badly you dance, the simple act of dancing can provide a confidence boost that can carry into other areas of life.
Whether you pick it up as a hobby, or simply for DeMolay, dancing can be worth the effort as it improves posture, diversifies gestures, increases confidence, and more. In addition, music will follow you wherever you go: weddings, birthday parties, concerts, high school reunions. It never hurts to be prepared so you’re not left with a scarring memory when Samantha gives you a friendly push into the middle of the dance circle.
For many DeMolays, hosting or attending dances is a matter of meeting expectation rather than actual interest. Some go so far as to hide out once the music starts, missing the point of the event, and setting a negative tone for an individual or group of DeMolays.
To avoid this, here are several steps to build up confidence over time and get out of the shadows and under the flashing lights:
- Listen to popular music- You can’t sing along completely off pitch if you don’t know the words! This is the part that might require the most sacrifice, but if you didn’t know most of the songs at the dances you’ve attended, this is a necessity. The radio can drill the “Top 20 hits” into your head in no time.
- Sing along (even if no sound comes out)- This is really part 2 of step #1, but mouthing or singing the words to music helps lyrical memory, and trains the dramatic facial expressions which are a plus for both dancing like a fool, and performing our ritual.
- Do something simple- Perform a simple motion in time with the music. This can be bending at the knees, bobbing the head, or swaying from side to side. If you do this at a dance (and OWN it), there is a good chance others will join in, because they’re thinking “Hey, even I could do that”.
- Take the thing from before and evolve it- Give it an extra motion or two, and keep adding more until you realize every part of you is involved. Once you do this, congratulations! You’re dancing well enough to survive most occasions that call for an impromptu performance.
- Add to the arsenal- To be king of the dancefloor, return to steps 3 & 4 a couple times to fill out your arsenal of never-before-seen classics to match any song. You don’t want to be a one trick pony, because what works for “Turn Down for What” might not apply to “Party in the USA”.
That’s it! With just a little extra effort and invested time, you can look ahead to that upcoming dance with a can-do mindset. Perhaps discovering for the first time, what the view is like from beneath the lights.
A young man participating in all aspects of DeMolay enjoys a superior experience, and he takes more of it with him into adulthood. Ultimately, it isn’t important if you follow the steps listed above. The important take away is that every event has significance and to shun dancing is to hinder your DeMolay Experience.
Josh Starnes, PSMC, Advisor (Kentucky)
Always strive to be the best version of yourself!