For this one, we’re going back a couple of years to a small town wedding reception. It was my uncles wedding, with maybe 60 people at the reception. Just about everyone in attendance was white, so I’m sure you could guess what songs were played- YMCA, Shout, Footloose, Dancing Queen and many other classics that middle aged women like to get down to. I myself hit the d-floor for a slow dance at the start of the night. When I was out there I couldn’t help but wonder, who likes slow dancing? Dancing with any type of speed allows you to let loose, but slow dancing is two people slightly leaning left, then right, trying not to step on the other person’s toes, while making small talk. It’s not for me.
As far as getting down to some of the faster songs, I wasn’t feeling it that night. And by that I mean, I wasn’t nearly drunk enough to get out there. I’m also fortunate to not have been pulled out there by an overzealous aunt. My fear of being outrageously drunk, stumbling on to the dance floor in front of my mom stopped me from drinking too much. Also, $6 beers played a factor. Having an open bar is an insane choice financially, but the vibe at an open bar wedding versus a paid alcohol wedding is like going to a Buffalo Bills game versus going to watch your girlfriend’s last place women’s just for fun soccer league team play.
Anyway, the night was winding down as I stood on the sidelines with my three brothers and my cousin, watching some of the ladies trickle off the d-floor. When there were only 5 or 6 ladies left out there, the gambler in me came out and I decided to have some fun with it. I surveyed the field and landed on the women with short hair, a conservative black dress, and most importantly, no shoes. For the sake of this story, let’s call her Barb. Barb was having the time of her life. She knew the lyrics to every single song, and she was able to do two of her favourite things at once- dance like no one’s watching (we were all watching), and sip on her alcohol. The lack of shoes was the key for me. She went onto that floor with a plan to stay a while. For all of these reasons, Barb became the 1st overall pick in the Who Will Survive on the Dance Floor the Longest Draft!
As I announced the pick, my cousin and two of my brothers had their eyes light up. Finally, some entertainment! My other brother, the black sheep of the family, made it known that he would not be participating as he felt it was rude to those poor ladies out there to be mocked by the peanut gallery on the sideline. Alright nerd. We quickly maneuvered him out of the semi circle and my younger brother made his pick. With her Elaine Benes dance moves, Gerty, the white haired, striped dress lady made for a fine 2nd selection. Of anyone left on the dance floor, she was far and away the most enthusiastic dancer. My older brother quickly made the 3rd overall pick, going with black dress, short haired, drink in her hand Martha. She, too, was shoeless. In fact, she looked a lot like Barb. A solid selection, to be sure. With the last pick in the draft, my cousin was left to decide between two lackluster options. Both ladies were in red, wearing shoes, and weren’t dancing with much emotion. He went with curly haired Susan, and with that, the dance-off had begun.
It didn’t take long before Gerty was looked at as the favourite. Her moves were spectacular! Arms flailing, head bobbing, legs shaking; we all felt something special inside of us while watching Gerty go wild. After maybe two songs, the contest was down to just three- Susan and her undrafted red dressed friend had left the floor. It was simply a pitiful effort, and with that, my cousin had bowed out of the competition. At this point, rumblings of this contest had spread to the other wedding guests. Other onlookers became enthralled by The Dance-Off; my two aunts became the biggest cheerleaders of all in this riveting contest.
After five or six songs, I became worried that Barb’s drink might run dry. She was sipping it slowly but she’d been out there for quite some time. I thought about buying her a new one and bringing it out there, but I thought the better of it. If Barb was going to win this, she’d have to earn it for herself. We also established the official rule for elimination after a few close calls from Gerty tip-toeing the dance floor sideline a few times. In order to be out of the competition, both feet had to leave the dance floor.
In a shock to the crowd, after song number seven, Gerty left the floor! Her style of dance was too wild to last any longer. It’s akin to a power back like Earl Cambell; after a few spectacular years, he was bound to wear down. Gerty was applauded as she dragged herself off the dance floor and collapsed on the sideline. And then there were two.
At this point, something special was going on and the whole crowd knew it. Not a single other person stepped foot on the dance floor; everyone knew they had to let this battle play out. We were ten songs deep and by now it was evident that Barb and Martha were best of friends, perhaps even sisters. They looked the same, danced the same, both had a drink in their hand and had the presence of mind to take their shoes off before this dance marathon.
If you’ve ever bet on a dance-off like this, you know that the dancer’s will leave the floor at the end of a song. Never part way through, that would be psychotic. So all the drama in this spectacle came right at the end of each song. The ladies would pause for a quick second, hear what the next song was, and choose whether to stay or leave. By this point, we knew the end had to be near. These ladies were leaving it all on the floor, their knees were shaky, the arms movements were next to non-existent at this point, and their heads lacked the bob from the earlier stages of the competition.
It was around song 12 or 13 when my biggest fear came true. A slow song. Again, who the heck likes slow dancing? Not my Barb, that’s for sure. It’s not her style! As she headed off the floor, I knew my luck was about to run out. I leaned over to shake my brother’s hand in defeat, when the impossible happened. Martha tapped Barb’s shoulder and asked to slow dance! Incredible! The crowd went absolutely berserk! Martha refused to win in such a feeble way.
What the slow dance ended up doing was allowing the two combatants to regain their energy. This competition went on for another half dozen songs thanks to Martha’s shoulder tap. I’ll always respect her for that.
Inevitably, the battle had to end. After nearly 20 songs, both ladies were gassed. Their drinks were empty, their legs feeling like puddy, they both began the walk off the dance floor. I thought to run in there and keep Barb on the floor, but I realized that this one had to play out fair and square. Barb took a short, distinct route off the floor, while, to my dismay, Martha took the scenic route, making my brother (and her I suppose), the victor. I went to shake his hand but it was too late, he was already being mobbed by the seemingly hundreds of fans who had shown up to watch what will forever be known as The Dance-Off.