Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Singles Dance: The Mormon Equivalent of Bar-Hopping, Without the Getting Drunk.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all single, Mormon, 30-somethings must be in want of a dance.

Honestly, I will never understand why it is that every activities committee in the Mormon singles world seems to think the only good way to get people together is to organize a dance.

I didn't like them when I was 16, and I don't like them any better at 36.

There are multiple problems with the whole Dance thing.

For one, there is the simple fact that some people simply don't like to dance in public. I mean, they aren't necessarily Elaine Benes or anything, but they just don't feel comfortable showing off their awesome moves in the company of strangers.

For another, there is always a disproportionate number of men to women. ALWAYS. And when you account for all the creepers and the ones with bad breath or BO, the ratio gets even more lopsided. SOME people don't want to get stuck with the weird guy, even if he IS the only one who will talk to us--er, them.

Nevertheless, we are Mormon and we are single, therefore, we must dance. I'm pretty sure Brigham Young said that in his first General Conference Address.

So, it was with this winning attitude and charming demeanor that I agreed to go to the Orange County singles' dance this past Saturday. My roommate's band was playing in the Listening Lounge and the thing was being hosted in my own town, so I felt like I should just show up and see what happened.

But by Saturday morning, I had myself worked up into such a ball of anxiety that I was ready to skip it. In fact, when Laura got home from work that afternoon, I told her I wasn't going and she told me I was. So I popped an Ativan, got myself dressed and fretted some more.

Just as we were leaving, my married friend Rebecca made a joke about going with me. I jumped on it, telling her I needed a "chaperon." Still a bundle of nerves, I downed a quick Xanax to go along with the slow acting Ativan and headed out the door to pick up Rebecca.

We arrived before the crowd. Which was just...awesome.

Laura's band was setting up, so we sat and chatted with the wife of one of the band mates. But when they still hadn't started playing a few minutes later, Rebecca and I decided to wander around and see what else was happening.

There were a few old people on the main dance floor. Everyone was technically welcome there, but it was really intended for the over 50 crowd. And since none of them looked like geriatric billionaires, I quickly moved on to the mid-singles (30-45ish) dance floor where exactly three people were dancing.

I had no intention of being one of them.

That was when we wandered into the karaoke room.

Oh, that was the place.

Spoiler alert: I did not sing. Sorry.

But we watched. We watched the tone deaf lady with all the rhythm of Oprah Winfrey as she tried her best to belt out some great songs. And we watched the guy who thought he was awesome and trying to impress the empty room. There was also the lady dressed in this weird vinyl dress who was quite obviously determined to snag herself a man before the night was out. And we watched one guy who was having a great old time, laughing at himself, and actually had a pretty decent voice.

But that was it.

There wasn't much mingling. Pretty much everyone only talked to people they already knew. Or they talked to Rebecca, probably because she was wearing a wedding ring and was, therefore, "safe." And also because she was friendly and chatting people up.

Even on way too many anti-anxiety meds, I could not bring myself to be as social as she.

That's not to say that I was a grouch the entire time. In fact, other than my determined refusal to sing karaoke or dance, I think I had a fairly not awful attitude most of the evening.

But it was still a dance. And I'm very socially awkward. And I really think there is nothing that will ever make me want to go to one of these things willingly.

I haven't had fun at a church dance since I was 17 and my friend Lisa and I were the last of our age group stuck at the end of the year dance waiting for our younger siblings to be ready to leave. Devoid of dance partners our own age or height, we picked up folding chairs and spun ourselves around the gym like it was the best dance of our lives.

And at every dance I've been to since, I would much rather have danced with a folding chair than find myself standing awkwardly against the wall because I couldn't bring myself to speak to strangers and my friends had all been snatched away by eager singles seeking partners.

I've never been the girl that gets snatched up.

Which is fine.

Except for that persistent feeling that this just isn't the setting for me.

If I am to meet my hypothetical future husband at a church dance, it will only be because he happens into the wrong restroom and finds me hiding from any and all social interaction.

Can't we just all go bowling?

Or to a baseball game?

Or watch paint dry?

Why does it HAVE to be a dance?

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  1. I agree, dances aren't the best place to be social. Dancing is great among friends and just having a good time, but to actually meet someone who might be a potential someone?!?! I'm glad you challenged yourself to go and have a decent time. And maybe you'll just have to organizes a group of friends who have single friends open to anyone baseball game event. :)

    1. I'm tired of being the one that has to organize stuff in order to get it to happen.

  2. Ugh! So awkward. Seriously, is there no other activity that they can come up with?

  3. Oh, bowling would be fun! Dances are awkward; karaoke even more so. I can't imagine meeting someone there!

    1. Seriously! Although karaoke is fun when you're with a good group of friends or when people are drunk.

  4. Baseball game! That sounds much more entertaining. I don't dance either. If forced at a wedding, I will do one slow dance with my wife, because all I have to do is hold her and spin in a slow circle.
    And Karaoke is always amusing to watch.

    1. Baseball. I know. Plenty of time to sit and chat, while enjoying the fresh air and America's pastime.

  5. This post pretty much is putting a target on your back for being called into the singles activity planning committee. I give it 6 months.
    But good for you for going and I call that we get to be your next chaperones. Aaron doesn't particularly like dances but if you get some good 80's music going he has got some moves;-)
    I'm a little disappointed you didn't rock some Madonna in the Karaoke room. You are awesome at Madonna Karaoke.
    I loved going to dances but for the record I met my husband in ward choir.:)

    1. I was surprised it didn't happen the second the ward split, honestly. I've been expecting it for a while.

      I thought about rocking the Madonna, but there was no one I wanted to impress. Gotta save that stuff for the right time...

  6. Super awkward, Im totally with you on that! I'd probably be hiding too! lol

    Loved the whole geriatric billionaire thing... Darn!

    1. I'll just keep looking. He must be out there somewhere!

  7. Blah! Dances should be limited to middle school and prom. I think the bowling idea would be fun!

    1. Totally agree!

      But then, even in middle school the kids don't really do much dancing. They just stand awkwardly and stare at each other.

  8. There are few things that give more more anxiety than a church dance. Good for you for going!!!

    1. Thanks. I wouldn't have survived without the drugs!

  9. They are so weird and awkward!

  10. ok I am trying to commit to a reader.
    and I feel like an old person trying to navigate a new mobile phone.


    ♥ Celina

  11. Why DOES it have to be a dance??? All of your other suggestions sound so much better! You aren't going to meet a guy at a dance and bond over how much you love dancing and get married and go to dances the rest of your life. I'm glad you went though. Now you know you're not missing anything and can skip the rest.

  12. I would feel the EXACT same way friend, I swear. Dances should be a thing of the past once you graduate high school.

  13. Ug, that brings back memories of Junior High. Awkward! Bryan Adams on the stereo; boys on one side; girls on the other...

  14. I always hated Mormon dances. They were always the same. No one dance and everyone talking to who they already know.

  15. Hmm... actually as one of the organizers of this dance, which takes hours and hours for set-up, planning, and preparing (which is mostly a thankless task), there were other options at the dance who people to mix and mingle. We also had a game room with game room host so the anti-social crowd can mix and mingle that way.

    Sometimes at our dances, we have Speed Mingling (low key form of Speed Dating) for people to mix and mingle -- no dancing required :) . And while Karen, perhaps in the beginning there were a few Midsingles at the Midsingles Dance Floor, in the end, we had over 100 Midsingles dancing -- mixing and mingling on our own floor while the old skool crowd was doing their thing in the cultural hall.

    Mind you our regional dances are only done quarterly, not all the time, and there was plenty of ongoing activities that are not dances like hiking, bowling, kayaking, dinner groups, etc, etc...

    If you just put all your eggs into one dance, just know you will be disappointed. It's just a dance. But if you attend more activities to build your mojo skills and then attend the occasional dance, who knows that guy might be there. :)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really do appreciate the work that goes into planning and carrying out these types of things, because I used to have similar responsibilities in another organization. It truly can be a thankless task and I appreciate everyone who goes to the effort to try to make these events fun and inclusive.

      My issue is with the activity itself. I have been to dances many times. As a youth, YSA, and now MSA. My experience is always the same and I have no reason to believe that going to more dances will change that. Dances are not my thing, and no amount of going to them will ever change that. And there are a great many others in our demographic that feel this way. If people enjoy them, great, keep doing them. But it's just not the activity for me.

      As for other activities that go on, I have no idea where to find this information. Everything I've ever found about dinner groups or anything else has been for the over-40 set, or has been in conjunction with a conference.

      It seems that if we had something similar to Meet Up groups, where people could find activities that interest them (like classic movies, baseball games, writing groups, etc) it would be a great way for those of us with varied interests to find friends who enjoy the same things.


"You know what they say. If you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me."

~Clairee Belcher, Steel Magnolias

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