Dance to lighten up and feel good – told friends who never danced before

We came back from the Asian Market this afternoon with happy faces, my Japanese and Chinese friends and I. Who wouldn’t be happy and satisfied, with loads of groceries and heaping boxes of cooked food. It’s like hitting the jackpot despite paying the price. The prize was more than the price – we came home with lots and lots of food! That’s the jackpot.

My bonus today was discovering that red cured Chinese ham (that’s how I call it) was superb with pickled kelp. The red colored meat carried a very distinct sharp barbecued flavor accented with sweet, most delicious with steamed rice. One of my best simple meals. I can have that combo over and over again.

As I was driving from the market with two Japanese and Chinese friends, I listened to the oldies radio station and half sang along with the music. Suddenly, I felt like yielding to subtle dance moves. I did, while focused on the road, of course.

My friends noticed my accented slight sways. If I could guess their thoughts, they must have been thinking I was strange. It didn’t matter; I carried on. I asked if they like to dance. The cryptic answer was no from both. I inquired if they ever danced before. Again, the cryptic no. I quizzed further and asked why. Doesn’t everyone have the natural secret or open inclination to move their bodies with the rhythm of music, I wondered. I do. To my surprise, their answer – it’s not in our culture. Not cultural folk dancing, but social dancing, they clarified, further claiming that dancing is not against any of their norms or religious belief, but it’s just not encouraged or promoted. When they “get into the groove” of dancing, they’d feel good, I suggested. I don’t think they believed me, maybe, not just yet.

Silly me – I zealously started to extol the benefits of dancing like it was the best thing since sliced bread, so to speak – that it’s a kind of happy expression, a venue for venting and release of energy, an artistic exploration of form with music, an exercise for strength, a healthy diversion, not to mention an exhibition of talent and skill, and on and on and on. And then, you know what? I offered to teach them to dance the easy disco moves just to enjoy the infectious beat of the music, maybe even the simple electric slide (my favorite, I’m embarrassed to say). Admitting that I don’t do ballroom dancing, I hinted that I know some cha-cha. I mentioned that I’d like to invite them to a hometown anniversary dinner dance. If they accept my invitation, I better teach them how to move on the dance floor – or my efforts at persuasion would go for naught. Let’s dance, I insisted, still jerking my shoulders left and right to an Abba hit, while focused, of course, on the road.

Did I intimidate my Japanese and Chinese friends who never danced before? Maybe so, but they’re coming with me to an all-you-can-eat crab dinner, the annual fundraiser of a service organization. And guess what, there’s usually a mini dancing gig after dinner, to melt down the pasta and crab, just while the dessert plates are being cleared off the table. That would be good practice for the big hometown dinner dance. Should I mention dance at the crab dinner to them? Perhaps not. That might scare them. The crabs may not be a strong enough draw to get them to the event. Talking dance to them would be akin to telling them they’ll have to crack open the crabs with their bare hands.

When I got home, I turned on the stereo for the same oldies station I listened to in the car, shimmied up the stairs, cha-cha’d between grocery bags and refrigerator, waltzed a bit to tiptoe up toward the high shelf, and parleyed some quick steps to the kitchen sink. That felt good. Yes, let’s dance!

Linda P. Jacob

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