Feb 17, 2012

Teen Dancing, Clean Music, and Pulled Pork Sandwiches

by Debra Erfert

This past Saturday our ward, or congregation, of our church had a potluck luncheon. Its theme was a Cowboy Rodeo Roundup in celebration of the 170th anniversary of the Relief Society, one of our nation’s oldest women’s organizations. We were challenged to collect 170 items—any item—for a local charity as part of our celebration. We decided to collect 170 pounds of non-perishable food for the community food bank during our luncheon. We had barbeque pulled-pork sandwiches, plus nummy side dishes and desserts made by ward members. To get as many people as possible to come out on a busy Saturday afternoon, we promised a semi-professional photo booth, (which turned out totally fabulous) I also advertised we would have an instructor teach us country line dancing and the two-step.
Most everything went according to my plans. (I’m the whole activities committee. We have a small ward.) The weather was nearly perfect! Can’t beat 80 degrees during the winter, can you? Did I forget to mention this event was held outdoors in the church’s parking lot? Oops! Well, the slight breeze made keeping the plastic denim looking table clothes in place interesting, but otherwise, the outdoor venue was the perfect place to have our dance.
Oh, yes! Our country dance. I’ve heard over the past few years about delegating jobs, and I learned how to delegate with the best of them. One of the activities I handed over to a friend was finding someone to teach the electric slide and the country two-step. I thought these simple steps would be good wholesome dancing for the youth in our ward. And besides, I wanted to learn them, too.
The night before our activity, I stayed up late and downloaded two hours worth of clean country music from iTunes onto my iPod. Not an easy task, I tell you. If you’ve every truly listened to the words of any song, country or pop, you may be surprised to hear the suggestive sexual situations, or a curse word or three, or lyrics about drinking, or smoking! Oh, my! Finding 30 songs was almost impossible. I said almost! I did finally achieve my goal, and went to bed with a smile on my face and happy thoughts of doing some boot scootin’ the next day.
The only problem I had was with the couple that came to teach the dancing. They had their own ideas about what kind of dancing was proper for our youth and what kind wasn’t.  While I wanted line dancing, where everyone could participate, if they so desired, this couple insisted that teaching the youth of our church a dance where “they didn’t have to be part of a couple was wrong.” It was also “wrong for a group of girls to get out on the floor with their little girlfriends and dance together.” I tried my best to understand their theory, but my disappointment added to my already growing migraine I woke up with that morning. I wouldn’t get my dance choices. They would be teaching the Virginia Reel. Being the ever-diligent committee person, I dragged my husband out onto the parking lot dance floor and smiled, while mentally spinning back in time to my junior high school gym class.  
Yes, my friends, I learned to square dance when I was a youth.
Is it wrong for the youth of today to country line dance? I’m really trying to understand this concept, and since I didn’t have any daughters, maybe those of you who do have girls, grown or not, could give me a little advice on how not to take this couples' criticism of my dance choices personally. I really thought I had thicker skin. 


  1. I see both sides, honestly. I've actually been a swing dancer for many years, and I taught at countless ward and stake activities over the years.

    For a ward activity, I would tend to agree with you: we want something everyone can participate in, and that would be a line dance. There are (probably) singles, teens who are not of an appropriate age to pair off and children who are old enough to participate in something like this, but not old enough to be comfortable dancing with a partner.

    However, I also see where this couple is coming from. The Brethren have many, many times reprimanded the single adults of this church for NOT pairing off. Experts have warned of our lack of social dating skills as a society at large, leading to the detrimental "hook up culture" we have today. Encouraging coupled dancing and formally teaching it is a small step in the right direction, and an opportunity to stand up for something they feel passionately about.

    But their view would probably be far more appropriate to a priest/laurel activity or a YSA activity or such.

    On this point, I agree with you, but I see where they are coming from and applaud their efforts.

  2. As a single and a YA single I'm with you Debra...dances every one can participate in. It is crazy to have couple dancing only when there are more men than women or vica versa. I should know.

  3. Gina,
    Believe me, the lack of social skills isn't a new thing. I remember it from when I attended youth dances back in the 70s. I wanted this couple to teach a couples dance step, too, but I don't think the Virginia Reel, where it has to include five other couples out of necessity, really falls into that category. I would love to learn Swing dancing. How fun!

    I would think a cross-section of several kinds of dancing would be ideal, if I were to be asked. The kind were you could dance in a line, along with whoever would like to get up and slide with you, but also couples dancing. Always having only one kind would be heavy handed, and not very fun, in my opinion. I guess it will depend on the leaders inspiration.

  4. Variety is good...where everyone can feel able to participate is great. It is easy to get carried away with the "letter of the law" as that couple seemed to do. Like the other comments, I can see both sides. I am also seeing some extremes in trying to support different issues. Take all the messages about dating and marriage being sent out to the young adults: that there is too much group hanging out, etc. Now take an over zealous seminary teacher who, in trying to teach this concept, decides to tell all his HS age students that for the next month, they are to practice dating, one-on-one with no group dating. Did he forget that our HS age kids are admonished to group date? How did he forget that half of his students are not even old enough to date? Do you see what I mean?
    I see a similar issue in what this couple was trying to do. They just didn't think about the whole picture. So love 'em and smile and know that they were just trying to do their best. hugs~

  5. Balance, balance, balance.

    It isn't "wrong" to participate in line dancing so everyone, regardless of age or single/couple status, can be involved anymore than it would be wrong to participate in couples dances.

    I have a 17 yr old daughter whose reponse when I read part of your post to her was, "Have they ever been to a youth dance?" The kids dance in groups - all girls or uneven numbers of boys and girls - all the time. But they dance in couples, too.

  6. Hi! I'm desperately searching the Internet for a list of really good clean fun songs to play at a math summer camp this coming week. Did you keep your list of songs? All that work you did - maybe it can help someone else in your position (ME!). Hope you see this request and respond.

    1. Anonymous,

      All the songs are country western and are on my iPod mini. I'm not sure how I could share them with you, except to tell you who sings them and their title. I downloaded them from iTunes, like, one at a time. They are pretty upbeat (to me) and I listen to them on pretty much all of my car trips. ;)


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