I'm not sure how many weddings I've attended in my lifetime. Twenty? Thirty? Maybe not that many. One thing I am sure of is that I have seen a little girl in a puffy dress at every wedding. She circles the empty dance floor alone with her arms out until she is dizzy and then she falls, exhausted and giddy. I think I can count my lifetime in dizzy, circling wedding floor toddlers. It is surely better than counting out one's lifetime in root canals, or in tax payments.
This weekend we attended the wedding of some dear friends. It was a memorable reception. Fondant robots topped the wedding cake. Articulated metal toy robots, chattering teeth, tiny bowling pins, dinosaurs, and noisemakers waited in clusters at each table for the guests to play and make introductions. An Elvis impersonator shimmied and gyrated the reception into action. A photobooth was available for guests to ham it up and leave a strip of smiles for the bride and groom, and take one away for themselves. I think a few regular restaurant patrons might have taken the opportunity to have their photos taken as well. That will be fun years from now for the bride and groom ... "Who's this?"
This was a relaxed and fun wedding reception, held in the open room of a local restaurant. The heads of moose, elk, deer, and a few whole animals (foxes), looked down at us in judgment. "Let me get this straight. You kill me, stuff me, and make me spend eternity watching you dine and dance?" Disco lights animated their frozen stares.
During faster music, kids four and under imitated what they see on MTV videos without care of who was watching. Loose arms gangsta flapped, bodies turned on the floor, legs kicked up, and those still on the floor elasticized their way back up into a vertical position. A three year old girl really listened to the music and let her body move to the melody, not the beat. Her parents didn't try to alter what she was doing at all, they let her be herself.
Adults who don't know what to do with themselves but who want to dance will try a few different techniques. I have seen these at every wedding reception I've ever attended. I've also used some of these strategies myself.
Survival Strategies on the Wedding Reception Dance Floor
1. Grab a kid and dance.
Smaller kids you can pick up and hold, spin around, and do a pretend, over-exaggerated Tango. With larger kids, you can hold their hands and sway. They will break away from you to dance with other kids.
2. Mock a dance move.
You're dancing in a safety cluster of friends, and you start an offbeat version of John Travolta's point to the sky, point to the floor. Make it obvious you're just "joking around."
3. Dance a waltz with a friend during a rap song.
This is a take on the second survival strategy.
4. Do the Charlie Brown. Or the Lawnmower.
Always a crowd pleaser. For more ideas, Ze Frank has a tutorial.
5. Be yourself.
This is the hardest. Watch the little kids and remember what it was like to not care what you looked like. Now move as who you really are. If you dance who you are, the little kids will dance with you. Maybe.
The bride danced with her sister the other night. A glorious, uninhibited, raucous whelping on the dance floor. Their happy dance was infused with years of history that no one could touch. As the bride's dress burned white in spinning and her sister twirled around her, I missed my own sister who is thousands of miles away. I remembered how we danced at my wedding. Years of impenetrable history. Together our bodies made a geometry. With her, I am myself. I am three years old, spinning with my arms out.
My husband danced with me and it wasn't just a slow turn to the right. He led me, our noses touched, and we closed our eyes. My feet finally felt right in high heels. If I can't spin myself dizzy in a puffy dress, I'll count my lifetime in nose touching dances with the love of my life.