by Loui Tucker

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This article appeared originally in the December 2009 issue of Let's Dance!


We are a diverse group of people:

Our dances show an amazing variety, and not just in their ethnic sources:

        So what's my point? We are different in so many ways and so are the dances we do. Because of that, we need to find a way to get along, to tolerate, perhaps even embrace, our many differences.
        We are having a hard enough time getting new people into our dance venues. Why chase away someone who likes Dance X by telling them the dance isn't "real?" Who benefits when somebody decides to set limits on what is an acceptable dance? Acceptable to whom and who gets to decide what dances are acceptable? And what do you tell the dancers who have learned and like that "unacceptable" dance?
        Try putting the shoe on the other foot, so to speak: what would happen if someone were to decide that henceforth, dances having more than two parts will no longer be accepted in the repertoire (too difficult to remember!). When we make rules about what dances should and should not be accepted, we skirt some dangerous territory. It has been said that a wise man does not take the reins of power unless he is ready for those same reins to be wrested from his grasp and used against him.
        Square dances, round dances, and contra dances were once sheltered under the umbrella of international folk dancing. Those groups and their dancers left our dance floors for good in the 1960s when a large number of non-partner dances entered our repertoires. We rarely include those types of dances in our repertoire mow, and square dance groups and contra dancers have eliminated any taint of international folk dances in their programs. Can we afford to alienate another group of existing dancers and divide us again?
        Does this sound like Rodney King's "Can't we all get along?" plea? Perhaps that's all I'm saying. Can we be more accepting of the likes and dislikes of our fellow dancers? Enough with the crossed arms and looks of scorn! Think before you criticize another dancer's choices. You may not like the dance that's being done, but there is a group of people on the floor dancing that is clearly enjoying it. Take the three minutes to have a drink of water, visit the restroom, chat with a friend, or step outside for a breath of air. Just don't rain on another dancer's parade, or in this case, dance floor!