Andrea's column: Happy feetNo matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted to fit in, popular dances my girlfriends were crazy about — the Mashed Potato, Stroll, and Monster Mash
By: Andrea Langworthy, Rosemount Town Pages
Coordination has never been my forte. I tried out for the grade school girls basketball team but couldn’t get the hang of handling the ball and moving my feet at the same time. The priest in charge gave me a look that suggested I choose another sport.
I had already tried dance classes at a neighborhood studio. Mom thought I would learn to move gracefully. You can imagine the reaction when, after our first lesson, the teacher told my mother tap dancing would be part of each class. Mom murmured she hadn’t intended we learn to clomp around like clumsy cows.
Mom shouldn’t have worried. I never excelled at either mode of dance. In fact, The Twist is the only dance I could ever do. And in my half-baked version, my feet stayed glued to the ground as my arms and hips moved back and forth.
You can’t twist your way through every song, though. My two left feet and I gave up. I turned off American Bandstand. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I wanted to fit in, popular dances my girlfriends were crazy about — the Mashed Potato, Stroll, and Monster Mash — were not for this klutz.
I hadn’t thought about this in years but when I read about a flash mob being choreographed for cities around the country in honor of National Dance Week, I got that old “I wish I was cool” feeling.
You don’t know what a flash mob is? Well, it involves a synchronized dance number and a group of people who agree to meet at a public place where others are going about the business of everyday life. Picture a mall, train station, food court, outdoor plaza.
Participants blend randomly into the crowd. At a specific time, music starts, and one or two at a time, participants stop in place and start dancing. The rest fall in until the entire group boogies among shoppers, commuters, people having lunch.
The dance starts fast, goes on for a short time and ends with mob members leaving quickly. In the videos I’ve seen, observers slowly realize what is happening. Most have a “What the heck?” expression on their faces, but pretty soon, they’re smiling and swaying to the tune.
Executing a precise routine like that is beyond me but I have discovered a talent for sitting at my desk and swaying from side to side as I watch flash mob performances on Internet sites. If you haven’t seen one, try youtube.com/flashmob.
If you like what you see, check out the website for National Dance Week. Founded in 1981, the organization’s mission is “to expose and introduce as many people as possible to the enjoyment and benefits of dance.”
To that end, on April 21, they hope groups of people from all over the United States will organize flash mobs in their areas. Choreography, tee shirts, and more information is available at www.nationaldanceweek.org. Maybe you will be inspired to put on your dancing shoes. Or, at least, sway to the music.