Clean Dance was started with a simple solution to the problem within the music industry – how do you sort through the noise to find clean danceable music? We found that publishing a list or starting point was the most effective way to help out. Now that guidance is available for clean music, what we wish we could provide is clean dancing. It seems like this can be a losing battle as leaders struggle to teach and help youth to understand the need to dance appropriately. Perhaps it might help to understand the why behind a dance.
So, why do you have a dance? My wife helped me to answer this question when we visited with her family recently. I would often ask “what are we going to do there” and her responses ranged from pick apples in the orchard to eating dinner. Recently on this visit I made the mistake of dragging her away from her family so we could go home when the activity was complete. Hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn. Days later, after the atomic ash had settled, we had another conversation. She explained that we don’t go to the farm to do something, we go to the farm to spend time with family. That is what matters.
Thinking about a dance in those terms, that it becomes the mechanism to spend time with someone, this makes sense now why you’d want a clean environment. You have a chance to teach a genuine lesson to your youth councils with this framework “we do it to spend time together.” How do you want that time spent together – what activities within the event provide the best interactions – let me provide a few suggestions:
Teach a line dance. I have enjoyed watching groups have success here. Line dancing provides opportunities for creative development as a dance is created. They also provide an opportunity for everyone, regardless of level, to participate in either instruction or participation. The dance bonds the participants for future events together. I have seen many times the line dance is done spontaneously outside of a dance. The dance can be taught at the beginning and performed several times during the event.
Teach specific dance methods. The highest success rate I have seen for dance participation is when we had professional or volunteer instructors teach dance 30-60 minutes before the dance started. It removed the awkwardness of new youth who never received professional instruction in dance. It elevated the dancers IQ. It made the dance eloquent.
Teach chaperones to teach basic dancing. When chaperone sees someone out of line, they should have the authority and capability to correct with proper training on the spot. Telling a youth to stop is different from teaching them how to start.
Once you have a solid plan or framework for activities which support the dance. You then can move on to adding the other things you need like refreshments. Having a dance that promotes spending time together by teaching everyone to participate becomes infinitely more welcoming. When you are joining a group who can show you have to have a good time, you watch your attendance climb as you welcome more to the dance.