Feeling Tremendous Nerditude?

In our virtual worlds, we know more data about each other, but less about how to be with each other than ever before.

 

Younger people are often miles ahead of their elders in their ability to text, email, and use social media.  But relating to people through a screen is not the same as being together in person.  It can be a challenge to learn how to meet and connect with new people face-to-face!

Figuring out who we are within ourselves, and who we are with others, are major tasks of adolescence and young adulthood to begin with. (And even after all these years, I often have to psych myself up before going into a room full of strangers and beginning to get to know some of them!)  So it’s no surprise that any of us can run into high anxiety when it’s time to get together.  Picture a large group of uncomfortable people in a room = we are totally lovely human beings, feeling tremendous nerditude.

So awkward cartoon

Meanwhile, what is our image of a roaring good time?  Movies, videos, and models of social behavior from the rock generation often imply that in order to have a really great time, you need to “lose it” in some way.  What is the “it” that you’re trying to lose?  The awkward separate-ness?  That feeling of nerditude?  Does the desire to let loose combust into “extreme” behavior?  However we identify it, lovely human beings often come into social situations expecting that they need to be loaded in order to have a really good time.  This can affect anyone of any age, but is especially worrisome in younger people.

 

When parents, teachers, administrators, and health personnel see binge-drinking, drug use, and casual “hooking up,” their natural response is to say “Stop it!”

Stop_Sign_clip_art_hight

“Stop drinking!”  “Stop using drugs!”  “Stop having sex!”  This is totally understandable, and sometimes it works, but problems remain.  “Just saying NO”  doesn’t help someone learn what to say “YES” to.

The more intriguing fundamental question is “What makes it FUN?”

 

 

The need for fun and for social connection among people is part of our basic nature as human beings.  It is not going away. We may like our electronic toys and enjoy using technology, but relatively few of us actually prefer to live as nerds (defined primarily by a set of technical abilities combined with a lack of social skills).  We would greatly prefer to be loving, well-loved, socially successful individuals with awesome computer skills!

 

Learning what makes it fun on the most basic human level is the most pro-survival thing we can do.  In order to get through this next phase of human history without destroying our environment, we’re going to need to be able to connect with people who are very different from ourselves.  One of our best moves is to learn how to have healthy fun with as many different kinds of people as possible.  We’re not denying our inner nerditude, we’re claiming our ability to connect with and enjoy a wider and wider circle of people.  All our computer skills will help, all our personal abilities will help,  we can have fun in both new and old ways, and we’ll stand a better chance of solving big problems.

There are a million reasons to be interested in these questions, from the most local to the most global, from the most mundane to the loftiest, from the drunk college kids next door to the international groups we don’t yet know or understand.

 

So let’s keep asking ourselves:  What makes it FUN?

Join this conversation!   Click the Follow button to subscribe to this blog.

What was your favorite sentence from this post?

Did you find yourself strongly agreeing or disagreeing with anything here?  (I’m serious – I’m looking for feedback on this – it’s an excerpt from a much longer piece.  Thanks!)

 

Copyright 2017 Ginny Bales

Advertisements

How Much News Do We Need?

Because of the storm this past Sunday, a woman at the gym has not had power for several days.  She reported that every in-person interaction she’s had with people during those days has been positive. Under normal circumstances, she’s a self-described “news junkie,” but while unable to hear much news, the tone of her daily life has become calmer and more reassuring.  Even while her house has gotten colder and colder each day, her emotional life has felt warmer.

 

What do we make of this?  It’s one person’s experience at one moment in time, so we can’t draw sweeping conclusions.  Still, there may be some resonance to things we have experienced.  What are we noticing at different points in time?  Which of our emotions are being massaged and to what purpose?  How do events of daily life strike us when our heads are full of “news” of desperate, tragic, or violent events somewhere in the world?

IMG_9402

The point is not to disregard events that impact our lives whether from a distance or closer to home.  We need the storm warnings when a hurricane is approaching.  There are clearly valid reasons for reporting serial robberies or personal attacks in a region where people may be similarly targeted.  Some kinds of publicity about incidents of terrorism like the recent New York terror attack on bicyclists may be useful for alerting people to say something if we saw something or if we see something questionable in the future.

 

But, as certainly has been noted by many others before me, 24-hour-news requires a constant stream of content and for the most part, bad news sells more than good news does.  We are probably hardwired to a certain extent to attend to possible dangers;  this has probably had survival value for our ancestors.  However, our ancestors were not continuously bombarded with news of unhappy events all over the world.

 

Psychologists and counselors sometimes advise people going through episodes of depression or anxiety to avoid watching or listening to the news.  The reason is that we human beings don’t function at our best when we are overwhelmed with fear or sadness.  In monitoring our exposure to news, we’re not aiming to put our heads in the sand or to ignore reality, but to question the balance in what we are paying attention to.  Many aspects of our everyday lives bring us joy, comfort, and a sense of connection with people, animals, nature, our own bodies, and the wonder of being alive.  If we’re aiming to advance the cause of fun (and of mental health!), we want our minds working at their best.  Being here now helps us feel grounded and aware.  It’s worthwhile to consider how much “news” from elsewhere we really need to be exposing our minds to.

 

Have you ever spent several days away from exposure to the news?

Did it affect how you were thinking or how much fun you had?

Fun Has Changed

During our own lifetimes, ways of having fun have shifted.  Any older person can easily attest to this, but even the young ones among us can see differences. IMG_7722

 

At a college dinner a few days ago, a sophomore said, “I think our age group is lacking in social skills” and held up his phone to illustrate one of the reasons why.  The next day I mentioned this at the gym where I teach fitness classes and got a chorus of agreement as my older students reported on their grandchildren’s behavior.

 

So much has changed, and we all see it, but how do we understand it?

 

Fun isn’t what it used to be.

 

When compared with previous generations:

  • Children today have very little unstructured time.
  • Longer school days and shorter recess periods.
  • Structured sports teams rather than sandlot games.
  • More screentime, more online, and less time in person.
  • More social time in groups and less dating.
  • More work demands on everyone.
  • Families are squeezed for time.

 

Nonetheless we can all still have more fun more of the time.

It’s part of our nature as human beings to want this, but some ways of having fun work better than others.

How do we maximize our chances?  By being born into fun-loving families and communities?  We don’t have much choice.  Partying all the time?  That doesn’t actually work well even when people can afford to do it.   Choosing fun-loving friends and finding work that is enjoyable?  Ok, sure.  Nice work if you can get it, as the old song says.  In this economy, just finding a job at all can be pretty darned challenging.

But our own actions and attitudes still make fun more likely or less likely.  Besides noticing the factors that are affecting us and noticing the choices we have, we can also step out a little, embrace our own social leadership, and figure out how to create more fun for ourselves and those around us.

For most of my adult life, I’ve been a bandleader and singer, helping people have fun at parties and celebrations.  For the past seven years, I’ve also been helping people have fun with exercise classes.  I’m going to begin posting ideas from the book I’m writing called  What Makes It FUN?    I invite you to join this conversation and subscribe to this blog.

Let’s make it fun!

 

Do you think that fun in general has changed?  Is it just because we are getting older?  Or are different kinds of fun available now (or less available now)?

Highlighting What’s Important at a Wedding

Brides and mothers of brides often say afterward that the actual wedding day passed so quickly that it almost seemed surreal.  That they expected to feel in charge of what happened but it was as though a wave suddenly overtook them and threw them through the day without their being able to really feel what was going on.

 

That’s why it’s so important to take a moment several times during the wedding day to stop, breathe, and look around, with someone you love, and just notice where you are, who you’re with, and what this means.

A well-planned and well-executed wedding allows time and space for feeling what is going on.  Good planning and appropriate MCing allow some of the emotional moments to shine without trying to over-control every little thing.

 

Timing is important for making an event work, but scheduling every detail down to the minute does not guarantee a successful wedding and can actually get in the way. It is far more important to allow opportunities for everyone present to understand and feel the fact that they are forming a community that will hopefully support this couple throughout the rest of their lives.  Ideally you want moments for basking in the joy of all this.

Being dressed up, seeing flowers, and being together in a beautiful location that has been specially decorated, all help set the stage for a wedding.  Certain kinds of announcements at a reception, such as welcoming the guests and thanking them for coming, making toasts, and giving a blessing, all allow people to feel the importance of their being there together.  They also allow the guests to focus on the couple and each other.

 

It’s useful to have an idea of the “wedding formalities” you want to include in your wedding.  However, this doesn’t mean that you have to have the toast at 7:13 PM as I saw on one wedding planner’s timetable.  (Decades of experience have shown me that any timetable with that unreasonable degree of exactness will be off by at least 15 minutes before the first course comes out.)  Events need to breathe and so do the bride and groom and their guests!   It’s very desirable to think ahead of time about what you want to have happen, but to allow for some “play” in the schedule.  For one (very major) thing, you—as the bride or her mother–aren’t in control of the food service, so you simply can’t schedule everything down to the minute.

 

Sometimes people have seen enough of a “wedding conveyer belt” approach to know that they don’t want that.  But going to the other extreme may not give you what you really want either.  People who want “no programming at all” and want everything “low-key” may also end up with that feeling of having missed things, because they often get more chaos than they expect:  being pulled in many directions, having trouble knowing where to focus, not having any quiet time, not allowing important people opportunities for input (through readings, toasts, special songs).  Equally importantly, if there is very little structure, their guests may have a vague feeling of disappointment that the wedding didn’t provide the fun or the group experience that the guests were hoping would make all their travel arrangements, expense, and time investment worthwhile.

It’s just natural that such an important day will be filled with moments that go by quickly.  People often say “It was great, but the whole thing was over before I knew it – it was just a blur.”  So it’s wonderful that we have photos and videos!

 

But good party planning also allows the important moments to be shared and felt.  Good MCing also helps highlight what’s happening, informing people about it, without overshadowing or adding irrelevant or tacky elements to it. Without appropriate MCing, guests and even principals in an event have a harder time coordinating their participation and some may have no way of knowing what is going on. They very literally don’t know what they’re missing, but you can be sure that some of the people who never saw the cake cutting or missed the father-daughter dance feel cheated.  They wanted to be part of this event and if you don’t have any signposts for your guests about what is happening and when, then in effect, you are shutting them out.  This is even more obvious if you are using an older venue, like a historic house, where everyone cannot fit into one room.  If someone doesn’t let everyone know what’s happening in the other room, some of your guests will feel like second-class citizens.

 

This doesn’t mean you need a Las Vegas or carnival barker sort of MC who booms out in a television announcer’s voice “Now let’s welcome our bride and groom!” but uses the generic “our bride and groom” because he has forgotten or never bothered to learn the couple’s names!  What you do need is someone with some personal warmth who can let everyone know what’s happening and can do so in a style that reflects or enhances your own.

 

Everyone who attends your wedding is there because they love and support you and your partner.  Give yourself and your family and friends a chance to savor the wonderful reality of the day by including moments where you can feel – and where you can all feel connected.

Sound Quality at Your Wedding

How many otherwise beautiful weddings have been marred by bad sound?  Don’t let this happen to yours.

Most wedding planners and many brides are visually oriented.  From what I hear, many don’t understand the importance of sound at a wedding. Think of the vows (especially at outdoor weddings) that no one except the bride and groom could hear.  Think of the weddings you’ve attended where the band or DJ was so loud that no one could talk without screaming.  How relieved were you when you could leave?

Being able to hear and to talk is enormously important at virtually all social functions, but especially at a wedding where part of the goal is the creation of a community that will support you and your intended for the rest of your lives!  You want people to feel connected.  Good sound helps everyone connect, just as good music does.

How can you insure that your wedding will sound good?

When you begin checking out possible settings for your wedding, notice the sound quality of each place.   If possible, visit when an event is in progress.

 

Choosing a ceremony venue may be easy if you are getting married in a church or temple you already belong to.  There are exceptions, but most houses of worship have reasonably good acoustics and many already have PA systems, so they are less likely to present a sonic challenge.  Hotels and country clubs also usually have ways of dealing with ceremonies that they know have worked well for previous weddings.

But if you want to be married outdoors, being heard can be tricky.  Sound disperses in all directions, both outward from you and your officiant toward your guests (and the sky), and also occasionally inward toward you from the environment.  A plane flies over, a train goes by…  and they become part of your memory of the wedding.    These interruptions can be charming, but be realistic about overtly noisy spaces:  we once had a client who wanted to get married outside on the New Haven Green at 5 PM on a Friday, despite warnings about how noisy and non-romantic downtown city streets can be at rush hour!

If you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, accept the fact that everyone may not be able to hear, seat your guests as close together as possible, consider whether you may need a sound system, and be ready to speak up!

Now on to the bigger challenge – the reception:

Check out the sound quality and hard and soft surfaces of any indoor space.   (Tents for outdoor weddings usually sound fine.)

Marble, stonework, glass, concrete, and architectural features such as vaulted ceilings, allow sound to bounce around a lot and become muddy. Soft surfaces such as carpeting, fabric wall coverings, drapes, acoustical tile, and fabric-covered furniture absorb sound.  The ideal is a mix of hard and soft surfaces in a space that is not shaped like a box (too many right angles makes for a mid-range-y boxy sound that feels harsh – odd angles in a room often “naturalize” the sound and make it more comfortable for listeners).

Wooden floors and walls can also give the sound a warm quality.  The classic combo of wooden dance floor and carpeted dining area is a classic for a number of reasons.  One advantage is that if your band or DJ’s speakers are aimed at the center of the dance floor, the sound will be full where people are dancing but will fall off by the time it reaches the tables.  You want people at their tables to be able to talk comfortably.

.

Clap your hands together in the center of the space and listen for any echo or natural reverb.  If you hear any, you have a fairly “live” room.  Even before you add any music, conversation among your guests will produce a considerable buzz.  The larger your tables are, the harder it will be for guests to talk across the table and hear each other.  Tables for 6 or 8 may be a better choice in a very live room than tables for 10 or 12.

What if you’ve already committed to a space that has sonic problems?

1.  Be sure your band or DJ shares your sonic goals!  This is the most important single thing you can do.  Hire people who don’t have to be loud to be good.  If your musicians or DJ usually play at very loud volumes or with distortion, they are likely to apply those same approaches to your wedding.  If accustomed to playing in bars or clubs where their task is to “drive the patrons to drink,” they may not actually prefer the sound quality or volume that is most appropriate or functional for a social event like a wedding.  People who think that a heavy sternum-vibrating quality sounds “good”  (think of a car with a big speaker system playing rap music so that you can feel it from the next lane with your windows rolled up) may not want to adjust to make their sound cleaner and may not even know how to. Sound travels in waves – be sure you are on the same wavelength with your band or DJ!

2.  Think about sound when deciding on the seating for your guests.  Music is naturally louder nearer the band or DJ’s equipment, so be sure to seat younger people in those areas and older people further away.

But also recognize that different crowds like different volume levels along with different styles of music!   (We have played for a handful of wonderful Persian weddings.  These have been some of the only times in my career when we’ve had what felt to us like a big full sound and yet still had older women guests coming up to us saying, “This is great, but can you make it louder?”)  The important thing is to think well about your own audience, your friends and families, and to know that your band or DJ will be thinking well about them too.

3.  Use fabric-covered chairs, tablecloths with skirts, draped fabric or screens, or area rugs in your décor – the more fabric, the better if you are dealing with an echo-y muddy-sounding space.  (When I was in high school in Tennessee, we used the National Guard Armory for our school dances.  Using a pipe and drape system, we lined the walls of this enormous room with fabric.  We were not conscious of the sonic effect, only that it seemed much more special to see fabric than to see cinder block walls.  Now that I have played events in gymnasiums both with and without draping, I realize what a good idea all that fabric was and is!  Of course, if you choose a space that is already appropriately designed for parties and weddings rather than for tanks or basketball, you can just focus on being the bride!)

4.  Finally, the secret weapon:  Balloons!

The brilliant party designer Andrew Rubenoff explained this to me some years ago (www.andrewrubenoff.com – his work is far more beautiful than the photo resolution on the site can capture).  Think about how sound waves travel.  They travel through the air from one point to another by the movement of molecules.  If you fill the air with balloons, each balloon acts as a little sound baffle and absorbs some of that molecular motion.  The result is a more controlled sound, but you have to use a LOT of balloons.  One room we often play in has a high vaulted ceiling and seats about 180 people.  This room needs 200 to 300 helium balloons released up to the ceiling in order to sound its best.  We have also seen balloons used in centerpieces or tied to the backs of chairs on long ribbons (only tie them to every other chair and vary the heights in order to prevent their tangling if fans or AC come on!).

Don’t plan your wedding as a silent movie!  It’s not all about the visual.  The audio matters.  People connect through conversation and music.  Make sound choices and you’ll strike the perfect tone for your wedding!

What are your strongest memories of sound at a wedding or party?  Has bad sound ever ruined an event for you?   What would have made it better?

Art Students Create Toys for Elephants

Who can resist a project like this?  This story is fun on at least eight levels at once.

The art students are challenged with a real-world problem.   Being challenged can be fun, especially when you are working with others and have some resources and some hope of “success.”

The students are stretching to think about someone else’s reality as a basis for their artistic choices.  How refreshing to see the challenge framed as making something that will be fun for an intelligent but non-human being.

The students use their creativity to come up with concepts for toys and have resources with which to build and test their ideas.  Getting to play with ideas and materials is fun.

They get to meet elephants and see the elephants play with their toys.  Yeah!

The elephants have new experiences with the toys.  We hope these are fun for them and would love to see even more about this.

Videographer Lauren Frohne creates this video and The Boston Globe posts it.  Thanks Lauren.  Thanks Boston Globe.

We all get to see and enjoy it. Thanks MassArt students and faculty.  Thanks elephants!

As with so many projects in the arts, there is a multiplier effect.  Many people (and animals, in this case!) get something out of this.  Win-Win-Win-Win…

Big fun!

Long-Time Friends

Why long-time friends are the greatest:

 

They knew you when you wore cat-eye glasses – they honestly know how much better you look now  (and won’t be put off by a bad hair day, the “wrong” clothes, or a few pounds one way or the other).

 

You don’t have to go through a lot of introductory chatter since you already know each other’s history.  (And unlike recent information about new friends, you lived this.  It’s more deeply wired in your memory and easier to recall.)

 

You don’t have to prove yourselves to each other since you already did that a long time ago.

 

They literally know “where you’re coming from” because they remember your old house and old neighborhood.

 

They know that the teacher hated you in fifth grade – and they never thought it was your fault.

 

Since before Twitter was invented, you have been “following” each other’s relatives.  You know their parents and they know yours.  You remember their brothers and sisters as children.  (If you’re older, maybe you’ve known your friend’s adult children since they were children!)  This long-term knowledge becomes even more important when some of these people are no longer living and memories shared with others help keep them close.

 

You don’t have to explain what you were doing in college since they were there and did it too (or some of it!).

 

Even if you haven’t seen each other or talked in decades, you can pick right up where you left off.  If the channel was open before, it can be open again.

 

You see how hard they have worked at things and admire what they have accomplished.

 

The pure passage of time gives your friendship additional credibility and tenure.

 

You’ve developed ways of talking, joking, or just being with each other that let you think, laugh, and go deep all in the same conversation.

 

You see the essence of your friend more clearly over time and love them even more.

 

They knew you when you were a dorfwad and not half as cool as you are now, but you’ve liked each other all along!

 

 

What makes your long-time friends special to you?

The Wheelchair on the Dance Floor

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...
This is the internationally recognized symbol for accessibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several of the most fun dance experiences I’ve had in the past few years have been at events where a person with a disability was central to the proceedings.  Contrary to what some people might expect, participation from the disabled person made the entire dance experience more engaging for everyone there.

One instance was a wedding and the ceremony took place outside, on a beach downhill from a hotel.  Everyone walked down a long zig-zag aisle to get to the ceremony location and once the processional began, we could see that this arrangement had been chosen not only for its visual beauty, but also for functional reasons.  The Best Man used a wheel chair and the zigs and zags were like a series of ramps, making it possible for him to process down to the beach as a member of the wedding party.

Later, at the reception, the dancing was all right, but really took off when a female guest invited the Best Man onto the dance floor.  As he rolled and spun in his chair, and everyone else joined in, the whole event seemed to lift.  It was suddenly not about dancing just like your neighbor danced, it was about expressing joy, rhythm, and movement in the ways available to you at that moment.  Dancing had become “safer” for everyone.

The Best Man was a good dancer.  He was in a wheelchair, but he was a good dancer. My husband leaned over to him and said, “you’ve got some good moves there!” to which he replied, “I had even more a few years ago.”  My husband just laughed and said, “Yeah, me too!” and we all danced with all the moves we had on that particular day.  It was fun!

Whether we say it overtly or not, people are always seeking that special chemistry that makes a party “gel,” the energy that connects everyone more intensely, the magic that makes an event memorable.  Back in the 1950s, politicians used to talk about “making the world safe for democracy.”  I’m interested in making the world safe for fun and one of the ways we do that is by being aware of the conditions that allow more people to participate more fully.  Making that zig-zag aisle allowed a man in a wheelchair to play an integral role in a major life event for his friend.  Including a person in a wheelchair in the dancing made the whole celebration more fun for everyone.  We’re not just “doing a favor for a disabled person” when we make our events more inclusive; we’re making our own worlds larger and friendlier.  And if we should become disabled at some point in the future, the image of the wheelchair on the dance floor will remind us that there are still many ways to dance.

Here’s a great article by Caitlin Kelly on how the current economy is affecting many of us.

Broadside

It’s not just lawyers who are hurting  — 7,500 of them surplus in 2009 in New York alone.

Or older men.

Or those who used to work in manufacturing.

The “creative class” is as well.

Those working in photography, architecture and graphic design have seen a 20 to 30 percent drop in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since August 2002, those working in the music field have seen their work opportunities plummet by a staggering 45.3%.

“The story has really not been told,” Scott Timberg, an arts and culture writer in Los Angeles said to host Kurt Andersen on the weekly public radio show Studio 360, which examines all forms of culture. “They don’t always have a tattoo or beret.  They’re like Canadians, among us secretly, silently and invisibly.”

“A life in the arts…means giving up riches, making a trade-off to do something they’re passionate about,” Timberg…

View original post 619 more words

Get This Party Started!

Get This Party Started!

Party-goers from different generations have very different expectations about how a dancing party gets started.  Our band played for an end-of-term college dance on Wednesday evening and saw a pattern that is typical for today’s students.  The dance was advertised as beginning at 10 PM and when we began playing, no one at all was there except for the two organizers.  A group of young women who were expert swing dancers were the first guests to arrive and they made great use of the open dance floor for about 15 minutes as other guests began to slip into the room and help themselves to the food.  (As I wrote in a previous post, women want to dance!)  Occasionally, another couple or two would join in on the dance floor, but there wasn’t a critical mass of dancers until over a half hour into the first set.

 

We mentioned the issue of late arrival to one of the students and heard an answer we have heard many times in recent years,  “you know it’s the old wanting-to-be-cool thing – no one wants to be the first one there.”  This is in sharp contrast to the behavior we have often seen from older groups of dancers.

Our band has played a large number of college reunions for three decades, so we have had many chances to observe dancing behavior of distinct age groups.

We have had long relationships with certain college classes, for example, having played every reunion for the Yale Class of 1939 for the 25 years from 1979 until they stopped having reunions in 2004.  We have similar experience with reunions for classes from the 1940s through the 1970s as well.

 

For many mainstream Americans who came of age in the 1930s and 1940s (during the big band era), dances with live music were important social occasions and dancing was an important social as well as physical skill.  People who grew up with this usually carry their comfort with dancing throughout their lives for as long as they can move.  We have seen very touching instances of this at weddings when Great Grandma dances with her grandson or whomever.  There were and still are groups, such as some Southern Baptists and Orthodox Jews, who don’t approve of couple dancing, but by and large, dancing in couples was fun for older generations.  Live music was precious and people were eager to take advantage of any opportunity to dance.  Playing for them was very easy.  They were on the dance floor from the first note.

 

What has changed for younger people in recent years is their sense of awkwardness about getting started.  Events take a lot longer to get off the ground.  They are wonderful once they’re in full swing, but there’s a long period of standing around, waiting for someone else to make the first move.

 

People with higher skill levels are often the ones to break the ice, as we saw on Wednesday.  The strong swing dancers, the very athletic break-dancer, the couple who know how to waltz, tango, or cha cha, the guy who can moonwalk or do the robot, often attract others to the dance floor–others who at first just watch and admire, but then decide to join in.  At other times, there is almost a group “charge” to the dance floor, as “I will if you will” meets “all right men, we’re going in!”

 

There are sometimes particular songs that signal “it’s time to dance” for certain audiences.  Classic party music reduces people’s uncertainty about what to do by several different means:

 

  • Familiarity – You may have danced to this before and have good associations with it.
  • Rhythm – The beat is very definite and you feel comfortable moving with it.
  • Instruction – The song may literally tell you what to do, i.e.  “come on baby, let’s do the Twist.”
  • Known audience participation aspects – People have learned to expect to sing along on “Living on a Prayer” or pump their fists on “Sweet Caroline.”
  • Choreography – The song may have definite arm motions that go with it, as in  “YMCA” or dance steps as in line dances such as the Electric Slide or Macarena.

 

I used to wonder why bands never played the more obscure songs I liked and why other songs that were not “better,” but only more familiar, were played so often.  Now I see why:  because certain songs work better on a social level than other songs do.  We hear the same central repertoire of older and newer “standards” in many different situations because these songs have proven to help get the party started.

 

The next post in this music and dancing series will be “The Wheelchair on the Dance Floor” May 5.

Click the follow button above to be notified of additional posts on this blog.

 

What songs, sounds, or situations make you want to dance?

Do certain dancing parties stand out in your memory?  What made them special?