Teaching Teens About Dance and Marriage

A few weeks ago my wife and I began teaching teens to dance at a nearby city park. I thought it would be fun to chronicle this event.

My goal is to work with young adults,  educating them about relationships and marriage, using the Bible as a guidebook and Ballroom Dancing as a metaphor. After a great deal of planning I decided I had sufficiently over-engineered it and needed some action. So we found a city park, grabbed a portable bluetooth speaker, and went down there. Fortunately there was a nice big rec-building with a good size room, just right for a dance party. I set up my music, and we began dancing. This is an on-going chronicle of this adventure.

Week 1 (January 10, 2017)

After about 15 minutes, we began to see two young ladies (the staff) peeking around the corner. We tried to engage them in light conversation, and then invited them to join us. Being naturally shy, and never having seen us before, they declined. We continued dancing for a few minutes, and tried again, emphasizing that I would be happy to teach them. Still no results. So after an hour, we thanked them and left.

Week 2

Same place and time, with pretty much the same results. The same two staff members were there, and one or two others who peeked in. We invited them again to join us, but received a nice decline.

Week 3

Same place and time, but this time we had two young ladies who joined in, and another few watching. We were able to teach and dance for about 20 minutes, and they had to leave. I promised we would be there the following week, and what did they want to learn? They said they wanted to learn country two step. Finally, we had broken the ice! I spent several days of the next week brushing up on my country two step, all ready to begin teaching.

Week 4

I was delighted to see the young girls there, as well as a couple of their friends.It the country two step I had prepared lasted for about 10 minutes, after which the girls asked if we knew any line dances. They had a family birthday party coming up and wanted to do line dances. So we dialed up Electric slide ( they loved it), the Wobble, and the Cha Cha slide on my phone app, and started in. The easiest way to teach it I found was just begin doing it slowly, to let them follow along. Eventually, they began to get it. I must confess, I haven’t done the cha cha slide before, but the directions were contained in the lyrics. They loved it all!

Finally, we had begun to see results. Four ladies and one young man had joined us, and they had a great time – playing, taking pictures, and texting. When  I saw all of them sitting and texting I realized the class was over, so we called it a night. But we had great results, getting to know them and them trusting us. I wasn’t able to get any relationship information across, but that will come in time. I found that teaching dance is easy, but teaching them how to learn is going to take some time.

Week 5

No class – rec. room closed for maintenance

Week 6

It was a delight to see these same kids coming into the room, and wanting to dance! I was really happy for them. We had up to six girls during the hour, and more watching. One young man was paying careful attention from the sidelines. I’ll bet within a month he’ll be joining us.

The cell phones are still a bit of a problem, but for now it’s not a show-stopper. I know they just want to have fun, and the phones were part of that fun. They were streaming the activity and lesson to someone via Instagram, and I decided it’s free advertising. Hopefully the person on the other end will join us someday.

I taught Cha Cha for about 45 minutes, then went to line dances – electric slide and cha cha slide. It’s amazing how these girls respond to line dances – they just get out there and have fun. My wife and I just get out there and lead the pattern, sooner or later they start getting it.

I’m praying that this activity continues to grow, and becomes a ministry more than an activity, but either way we’re all having fun. There’s nothing more I’d like than to talk to them about Christ, and about relationships and marriage.

Week 7

Rain, rain go away – you ruined my dance class! While the rain is most always welcome in Arizona, in this case it kept all the students away. We showed up to an empty room, except for the staff. Disappointed, but not knocked out, we used the time to practice some of our own work – an upcoming showcase (to a song whose lyrics feature the rain in Africa), and some silver level swing.

While I didn’t get to teach the Swing I wanted to, it still brought me a bit closer to the project by showing kids that adults can be faithful, even when times are tough. Maybe next week!

Week 8

A beautiful day to go to the Park building and dance. When we arrived, there was one staff member there, and a few other kids playing pool. We went into the dance area, set up and said hello to the staff lady that was there. After that, we began to practice our own routine we’re working on, and some silver swing we’re trying to refresh ourselves with.

Finally one of the young ladies that has been coming in with us showed up, along with a friend. She told us she had the flu and was unable to join in. I invited her them to stay and watch, and we proceeded to demonstrate our showcase routine. Then I began to tell her about the differences between East Coast and West coast swing. I played a sample of each, and my wife and danced each. Then I asked which type of music she preferred, and she definitely favored East Coast, because “it was faster”. So I actually got some teaching in, even though she wasn’t able to dance.

We were disappointed there weren’t more of the kids there, but were greatly flattered that this young lady took the time and effort to come in and make a sincere apology that she was sick. That was very thoughtful, and we appreciated it – it showed some definite maturity and interest.

We’ll try it again next week.

Week 9

Closed for spring break

However I stopped by a coffee shop that this charity runs elsewhere and talked with them about how to volunteer with them; I was given the phone number of the man who started and runs the charity; perhaps i can meet him there sometime and have a cup of coffee with him..

I also made contact with a local Charity caned “dancing classrooms”, a charity that brings ballroom dancing in 5th and 7th grade public schools. The organization started in New York City by Pierre Dulane, the dedicated teacher portrayed by Antonio Banderas in the move “Take the Lead”‘ . They responded to my inquiry and want to talk with me; Hopefully something good will come from it.

I feel like something between a detective and a stalker i this effort. How come I’ve got the world’s best product – love, marriage, and Christ, and I can’t even give it away?

Week 10, 11,12,13

No class held due to a combination of facility issues.

 Week 14

We were there and danced, with a few on-lookers but nobody joined in. I’m starting to wonder if this effort may be coming to an end, and time to try another venue or something else. I’m thinking more about the Dancing Classrooms organization that i watched a couple of weeks ago. Maybe that will be the best outlet for now?