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Ask Glinda: Mad Hot Ballroom Edition | Teeny Manolo

Ask Glinda: Mad Hot Ballroom Edition

The lovely reader eilish asks:

Glinda, what do you think of a covert movement to make all boys take proper ballroom dance courses? I think my son might thank me in the long run, but I’m curious what your thoughts are.

Glinda is of the opinion that Culture, with a capital C, is one of the most valuable things that we as parents can help our children become aware of.  Notice the Glinda did not say “like,” but at least some type of exposure is necessary.   Lack of  exposure may or may not lead to a dedication to NASCAR, the fondness for the bonging of the beer, a penchant for greasy trucker hats, or any number of unfortunate things.   Dance, along with art, writing, and music, are some of humanity’s expressions at their finest.   It is important that our children grow up to at least appreciate Culture and recognize its place in our society.

Ahhh, the Glinda can see it now, the handsome son dressed in the classic tuxedo, gliding across the mirror-like dance floor, leading his beautiful partner.  What mother would not love to see her son exuding such grace and elegance as he executes the perfect foxtrot?  “Dancing With the Stars” is the ratings phenomenon for good reason, is it not?

Almost all women are smitten with a man who can comport himself with reasonable aplomb on the dance floor.  And while we as mothers may be aware of this, it is a difficult concept to convey to the young men in our lives. It seems that grace and elegance are shockingly low on the list of priorities for most boys.  Or perhaps grace and elegance while dodging the linebackers, or running the bases, but nothing that includes wearing shiny shoes with heels seems to count. 

The Glinda thinks that firstly, we should remember that dance, while still being Culture, is technically a sport.  Even if our sons do not see it that way, it is the truth. Dancers are athletes, who train and practice as much as any person with a ball of varying size and a playing field.  One cannot shuffle a few steps of the Electric Slide and call themselves a dancer. Getting the young man to see dance from this point of view may help to ease the resistance, although the Glinda is not betting on it. 

That being said, the Glinda thinks that such a thing as ballroom dancing should be treated as a sport.  Any more than you would force your child to play basketball, you should not necessarily force them to take the ballroom dancing classes.  The Glinda would suggest enrolling your child in a class for one particular style of ballroom dance, for example, the waltz.  And for however many courses it takes to master the basics of the waltz, that would be the commitment from the young person.  Just as if your child were to join a sport, you would have them finish out the season once the commitment was given.

But after that, base future attendance upon the enthusiasm, or lack thereof, of the participant.  The young man may begin by hating his dance lessons with the fire of a thousand white-hot suns.  Eventually, he may begin to like it a little, in spite of himself.  Or, depending on the young man, he may not.  This is where parental wisdom and knowledge of the particular child come into play.  At this point, you the parent can congratulate yourself on the exposure, however brief it may have been, to Culture.

However, as well-intentioned as it may be to try and attempt to forestall a lifetime’s worth of awkward chicken-like dances at weddings and parties, the lessons being given will only be as valuable as the one receiving them allows them to be. 

13 Responses to “Ask Glinda: Mad Hot Ballroom Edition”

  1. raincoaster September 16, 2007 at 6:37 pm #

    I believe the dance federation changed its name a few years ago to the DanceSport Federation, to reflect this.

    There’s an apartment building not far from me that hosts Sunday afternoon ballroom dancing outside on the shuffleboard courts. It has been the inspiration for many a male signing up for dance classes, as they can actually SEE their rivals with their arms around pretty girls who are laughing and whispering in their ears.

    The charms of this do not become apparent to little boys for some time, alas. But sign them up anyway. My mother used to sign us up for two sets of extra lessons a semester: one we chose, one she chose. That seems fair.

  2. Eilish September 17, 2007 at 1:18 am #

    Great post, Glinda! Thanks for your thoughts. I also like the raincoaster’s mother’s practice of signing up for two extra lessons a year. Especially now that so many schools have cut out electives, private lessons seem to be the only only options for many parents who want truly well-rounded children. (Remember when well-rounded was a mark of superfantastic-ness?)

    One of the reasons my husband and I have decided to homeschool our son is that it will give him so much more time for a variety of lessons (like dancing, sports and art) while still giving him a quality education.

  3. QueSarah September 17, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    My mom enrolled my two youngest brothers in an all-boy’s song and dance troop for a little while — back when they were about eight and eleven, and still more interested performing and showing off than in being “cool”. The teacher of the group was really clever in that she focused more on the athletic than the artistic parts of dance. It was really rough-and-tumbly, jumping and running sort of stuff.

    They did eventually demand to quit as they got older, but I think the experience was good for them. And it was nice that when they got into high school and decided that it would be cool to be in the musical, they were already comfortable performing and reasonably experienced with song and dance. Getting the lead in Charlie Brown was great for Christian’s social life and his confidence at a time when most kids are feeling pretty dang awkward.

  4. Ginger September 17, 2007 at 3:27 pm #

    I know that many years ago ballroom dancing was more common but today? Is it common in your part of the world? Here in th Deep South we do not even have much dancing at weddings. Maybe it is our Baptist heritage. So I do not see it as a useful skill to conjole the young men into. One thing I regretted was never learning to play tennis as this was very popular in college.

  5. Glinda September 17, 2007 at 7:28 pm #

    Rain- I’m not sure what exactly the right age is, though.

    Eilish- It is sad but true that those types of classes have been subject to severe cutbacks. Thanks NCLB!

    QueSarah- That is very cool!

    Ginger- Well, I don’t know about “common” but there are all types of dance studios around here. I don’t live in the entertainment capital of the world for nothing.

  6. hope September 17, 2007 at 9:07 pm #

    There is absolutely no way on god’s green earth I could get my son to take a dance lesson.
    No matter what spin I put on it.

  7. boogiemum September 17, 2007 at 9:26 pm #

    while I think it would be great to teach my sons these skills and instill some kind of elegance to them, I am not so sure it would matter. They have got to want it in order for it to have a positive impact. I still think it possible to teach them culture without having to actually participate in it. I think in some instances they may appreciate it better from afar.

  8. Suzanne September 17, 2007 at 10:15 pm #

    Glinda hits the nail on the head! Exposure is everything. Let our little darlings decide whether they enjoy it or not.

    My boy was in cotillion in 8th grade and a member of the ballroom dancing club in college. There’s benefit to being comfortable on the dance floor. Women adore a confident renaissance man.

  9. raincoaster September 17, 2007 at 11:23 pm #

    Anywhere there are Filipinos, there is ballroom dancing. Vancouver probably has more decent dancers than any other North American city, for just this reason. It doesn’t seem to be elective for them; everyone dances, and there is simply no question about it. You just do, because it’s what you do.

  10. class-factotum September 18, 2007 at 10:09 am #

    I live in Memphis and the kids here (of a certain class) go to Cotillion, where they learn to dance and the boys learn how to hold the door open for ladies.

    As far as weddings, when I was in college in Houston, I worked at the Faculty Club. There were lots of weddings there. The Baptist weddings were boring — no liquor, no dancing — but the Jewish and the Catholic ones were a blast — there was always a ton of food, open bar and a band. There is dancing in the South, but yes, it does seem to depend on religious affiliation.

  11. Ana September 18, 2007 at 10:42 am #

    Well said “the” Glinda! Well said!

  12. JaneC September 18, 2007 at 12:10 pm #

    I took a ballroom dancing and etiquette course when I was in 8th grade, and there were almost as many boys in the class as girls. Some of them clearly enjoyed it more than others. I did see some of the boys a few years later in high school, and I think the class did them some good–although, they may have been “nice boys” to begin with.

  13. Glinda September 18, 2007 at 6:13 pm #

    Hope- Even when he was younger? It’s all that hockey and ATV stuff you’ve got him into. 😉

    Boogiemum- You never know, they might surprise you one day!

    Suzanne- Oh, how I wish my husband knew how to dance!

    Rain- No doubt, there are some cultures where it is more prevalent and “socially acceptable.”

    Class- Hey, I had a Catholic wedding, and we had a blast!

    Ana- Why thank you!

    JaneC- I like the idea of those etiquette classes.