Polkadate September 2019. This is not a news flash, but the average age of folks on the dance floor is rising as fewer “younger” dancers are attending polka and waltz events.
Somewhere in the last several decades, the ball has been dropped in families attending dances together, indoctrinating their children and grandchildren in the fun of dancing. In the first half of the 1900s some dances were advertised as “Children’s Ball” and included masquerade balls (balls occurred in dance halls, and dancing was only in drinking establishments), with the same bands playing for them as for the adults. Up until the mid-1950s (pre-electronic age) the nuclear family had very few distractions from regularly attending dances, whether it be weddings, celebrations, or just the fact a public dance was being held.
After seeing a comment or two on Facebook suggesting we keep youngsters off the dance floor, it wasn’t clear what they were referring to. The editor recently was involved with a couple who clearly believed that short people should not be on the dance floor. Several young brothers and sisters, nine years and younger, were attempting to learn to dance on their own (they had been singularly dancing with adults). They were observed trying to figure out the steps, sometimes making up their own, but they were moving with the crowd, as much as the adults do (their own chosen speed and direction) and returning to their mother when the song was over. The four-year-old boy once went out and stood beside another older couple and tried to figure out the line dance steps on his own (for some reason they were the only three out there).
At the beginning of another song, three of the aspiring dancers went to the floor holding hands and laughing preparing to dance, when a couple came across the empty floor and bullied them off the floor telling them to stay off the floor. The two younger children were confused and the older one was scared. After the song, the couple returned to chastise the children some more in front of their mother. The couple’s reasoning was that the children might get hurt by adults dancing into them.
In the following week, the TPN editor put the question to a cross-section of dancers and the answer was unequivocally "Yes," they supported children dancing. Just today a posting arrived from a retired lady stating that people need to “Keep teaching these young ones to dance so our country dancing [keeps] going.”
The Texas Polka News staff supports the idea that all ages are welcome on the floor and should be encouraged to learn how to dance; how else will there be dances in the future? Now, we are talking about dancing; not playing or running through the crowd on the floor while the music is playing. During intermissions, the kids can have the dance floor to continue the time-honored tradition of sliding on the floor, burning off the accumulated energy from soda waters, and learning that the dance floor is a fun place.
Dancing is alive and well at the dances where the music is aimed at the youthful crowd.
Dance on. Teach that next generation so we can keep the dancehalls open.