I Should Have Danced

Last night Teckla and I found ourselves sitting at a table in the Port Orford Community Building watching a bunch of people dance to excellent Cajun music. Peter’s band, Bone Mountain Brothers, had opened for the Etouffee Band, so we stuck around and listened. Some people were drinking beer, but no one to excess—at least at that point. Eventually the little dance floor in front of the stage filled with people.

But this is what was cool. They were mostly ugly people, many my age—some even older. It was nothing like Dancing with the Stars—this was dancing with the local yokels. A lot of the folks seem to know each other. Not only were these ordinary folks; they danced badly. And yet they had genuine fun. I even had fun watching them have fun. This wasn’t a crude mating or rutting ritual; it was just feet moving and hips swinging to some happy Cajun music.

Teckla asked me if I wanted to dance. I quickly said, “No.” She did not persist because she knew I have never danced—except a few bounces and two-steps in church. Teckla hasn’t danced since high school, so she was not overflowing with confidence either. So we sat and watched and felt ourselves more and more mere spectators.

Perhaps I should explain that I grew-up a pastor’s kid in a denomination that taught against dancing, movies, smoking, and alcohol. Although I have long been free (I hope) of legalism, I believe most of those teachings are probably wise. This is, however, part of why I have never danced.

I have worshiped in churches where people danced unto the Lord. I have no problem with that. But this wasn’t church, it was some people enjoying some wonderful Cajun fiddling. Is there a place for this in the life of a Christian?

So here is where it gets weird. After I told Teckla I wouldn’t dance, I felt terrible. Perhaps only evangelicals will understand this, but I felt something like conviction. It was like sitting through an altar call at church while everyone sang “Just As I Am.” I didn’t have a white-knuckle grip on the pew in front of me, but it was the same feeling.

I felt small, hard, and stupidly religious. I should have danced.

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About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.

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  • Sue Roth

    Yes, of course, I understand. You’ll have another chance. Interesting to consider…when there are opportunities for me to dance I probably refrain not because of my church background but because of (a debilitating?) self-consciousness. And my classic story is of the time I was at a secular leadership camp sometime in my high school years. I told them I couldn’t attend the dance. So I stayed with the nurse in her cabin. Where she taught me to shuffle cards. One of my many life skills. Gives me a great story. At least I laugh at it.

  • Tineke

    I really like this one.