In the last few years the world has finally caught onto a phenomenon that has fascinated me for the better part of a decade. That phenomenon is the intricate ballet, beauty, and art of Mom Dancing. You know what I’m talking about – it used to embarrass the shit out of you at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the like as a child. You turned beat red watching your Mom and Aunt Sally get down on the dance floor. What you didn’t know – is that later in life you’d look back inspired and only wish you could be as wild and free.
Mom Dancing and I go way back to before Jimmy Fallon and Michelle Obama did ‘Evolution of Mom Dancing’ volumes one and two. It also predates this lady who busted out some serious moves at a Warriors basketball game. It was 2004 – I was living the American college dream of cohabiting with my three best girlfriends. Can you imagine that now? Living with three other people? How did we ever do that? And we enjoyed it. College was like being able to have a slumber party with your BFF’s that never ended. You could stay out all night and not have to sneak out the back door or put pillows under your covers to make it look like you were there. Anyways, my friends and I were sitting around one day and we were probably either stoned, drunk, or both. I’m not above admitting I was a pothead in college. I went to a small liberal arts school in New Hampshire where I had to walk through hoards of hippies playing ultimate Frisbee to get to almost every class for Christ’s sake. I rode my longboard around campus and thought Phish was the best band ever. Use your deductive reasoning skills – I still graduated Magna Cum Laude.
“Have you guys ever taken the time to like…appreciate Mom Dancing? It’s kind of amazing.” I wasn’t surprised to have several blank faces staring back at me – I almost regretted sharing my flippant thought but then I locked eyes with my best friend Andrea. “I know exactly what you mean.” She went on, “My Mom when she dances…her face, there’s so much attitude…” “Yeah,” I said, “When Mom’s dance it’s just like they’re having the best day of their entire life, every time.” Needless to say it didn’t take long for us, much to the dismay of our friends and roommates, to break out in a very long and detail oriented performance on the art of Mom Dancing. From then on it was our thing. We threw a lot of parties back then and Mom Dancing went from thought to a party tradition and way of life. In my many years of experienced Mom Dancing, I’d like to share some pro-tips with you:
- Mom dancing is about 5% actual dancing skills, and 95% enthusiasm. This is your night. You have a sitter for the kids, and they’ll be asleep when you stagger in holding your high heels drunk. Let loose! Start a conga line! Experiment with your body and see how it moves. If you’re at a wedding, this wedding isn’t even about the couple. It’s about YOU and how confident you look when you do the electric slide.
- Expression is everything. You should look genuinely surprised at almost everything you do and people should not have to guess if you’re having fun or not. You will wear fun like a goddamn badge on your face. Sass is not a suggestion but a necessity – you should be secreting sass out of your pores, and doing a lot of gratuitous finger wagging. Mouthing lyrics dramatically gets you bonus points.
- A huge part of successful Mom dancing is community. Engage with those around you – where there is one Mom with the night off and time to shine, there are bound to be more. Flock together, dance in a circle and take turns with who gets to be “on stage” next. If you see another Mom who looks like she doesn’t want to party, you throw an invisible fishing line out to her and you reel that bitch in – she won’t be able to resist flapping towards you like a fish and joining in!
- Music is everything when it comes to Mom dancing. These are a few of my all time favorites to bust Mom moves to: ‘The Groove Line’ by Heatwave, ‘Get Down On It’ by Kool & The Gang, ‘September’ by Earth, Wind & Fire, ‘Flashlight’ by Parliament, ‘Got To Give It Up’ by Marvin Gaye, and ‘You Make Me Feel Like Dancing’ by Leo Sayer. You’ll notice the trend of old-school funk but feel free to experiment with what works for you.
- Snapping and clapping are highly encouraged – especially when it’s not rhythmic.
- Air instruments are some advanced level shit but I invite you to try out the full scope of the world of imaginary instruments. Don’t stop at playing a comical air guitar – tickle some invisible ivories, or get all Kenny G on a non-existent Oboe or Saxophone. Think outside the box!
- Don’t forget to hit the bar to load up on plenty of Pinot Grigio and Rose. For the apprehensive Mom Dancer – this liquid courage can be the reason why she has the best night of her life or a sub-par evening. If they won’t let you bring your drink on the dance floor, put in a PICC line and take your wine intravenously.
- Maybe you’re reading this and thinking: “Geeze, that sounds really fun but I’m not a Mom.” I have great news for you – you don’t have to be a Mom to Mom Dance! Mom dancing is a state of mind and even though I gave you some helpful tips on bettering your moves, the best rule is that there are no rules! I’m certainly not a Mom and I Mom Dance in the kitchen every damn morning when I’m making myself coffee and eggs.
A few years ago I was visiting my sister in Tahoe, California and we went to a show that her boyfriend’s band was playing – the whole night was a celebration of George Clinton and P-Funk. There was a woman in front of us who was throwing elbows, making space, and having the time of her life. She was in her mid-50’s and I looked at my sister and said: “She’s definitely somebody’s Mom, and I wish she was ours.” She was probably having the best night out of anyone in that whole bar. We could all stand to learn a little something from Mom Dancing – at its core it’s everything dancing should be: free-spirited, no fucks to be given, and an expression of utter joy. So you go ahead and raise that roof, grapevine clear from one side of the room to the other, moonwalk if that’s in your skill set. My Mother constantly sends me cards that say things like “Just Dance” and I’m sure she’d be thrilled to know…I am keeping that promise to her everyday of my life.