Pet Peeve #2: Coordinated Dances at Weddings

Wow. This really looks like fun. There's nothing more fun than trying to do the exact same thing everyone else is doing.

I’m terrible at dancing at clubs without a date, but when I have a date–particularly at weddings–I actually enjoy dancing. I’m not a good dancer, but I like to get out there and have fun.

I was at a wedding a few years ago when a song I had never heard before started playing. It had a great beat, so I grabbed my date and headed to the dance floor.

Before I made it out there, though, everyone on the dance floor had lined up and were moving in sync with one another. Instead of loosening up and having fun as they did during the previous song, they were rigid, focused, intent on getting the moves right.

I was crestfallen. Not knowing the moves myself–and not wanting to become one of the automatons on the dance floor–I headed for the bar for another Dirty Shirley Temple.

The song, the “Cupid Shuffle,” is like many other songs commonly played at weddings that require you to know the steps. If you don’t, you can’t dance along to those songs, which sucks. And that’s the problem to me. I understand that some people genuinely enjoy learning and demonstrating the moves to the Electric Slide or the Superman song. But in selecting those songs, you are undoubtedly excluding people who don’t know the steps. That’s not cool.

So at my wedding (should it ever happen) and any event I organize, there will be no coordinated dances unless I hear a valid argument in the comments below.

Extra: One other song I loathe at weddings is “Livin’ on a Prayer.” I agree that the song is catch and a ton of fun to sing to at the top of your lungs. BUT it’s a terrible dance song. It is. Listen to it and try to dance to it without singing along. It has no discernible beat to dance to.


19 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #2: Coordinated Dances at Weddings”

  1. jamey – At the risk of sounding mean, what is wrong with you? honestly, these songs have dance moves that are intentionally remedial and repetitive. Maybe 8 measures of moves at the most. Most people learn them about 1/8th of the way through the song, and then it feels good to be part of a group dancing in sync. Like a flash mob! I’d venture to say that most semi-coordinated folks with a sense of rhythm can pick up these “group dance” numbers with ease…These songs do not intend to exclude, but rather to unite. However, I think they’re cheesy and a little bit tacky, thus I would similarly ban them at my theoretical wedding. But I do not object to them because they exclude – they’re pretty easy to figure out.

    NOTE: my group dance knowledge is limited to whatever was playing circa 1999, the year I hit the bar/bat mitzvah circuit in NY. The “Electric Slide” and “Cotton Eyed Joe” trigger a lot of feelings for me. Do they still play those at events, (ie: weddings) or is there a new dance I’m going to have to learn in approximately 20 seconds when I attend 4 weddings this summer?

    • Elissa–I think we’re arguing two different things. You’re saying that coordinated dances aren’t difficult, so anyone can learn, and thus they don’t exclude anyone. And perhaps you have a point about exclusion. But I’m saying that coordinated dances aren’t fun. You’re so focused on getting the moves right that you can’t just relax and have fun. So they exclude people who just want to have fun.

      As for the weddings you’re attending this summer, you should probably learn the Cupid Shuffle, the Cha Cha, and the Superman dance (which, if you know the meaning behind the lyrics, you might actually like).

    • Dirty Shirley Temples are amazing! They’re just a Shirley Temple (7-Up, grenadine, and a cherry) plus vodka. Oh, the things I’ve done after a few Dirty Shirleys…

  2. Being one who is ‘learning’ traditional dances – Livin on a Prayer is a good Cha Cha song. Lots of good moves there !

    I see dancing as good exercise – whether I can follow a line dance movement or just jump around – I am burning calories and then I can have another drink. ooooo But I have learned that dances with spins in them and alcoholic don’t mix too well, so then I can eat wedding cake when I have burned a few calories.

    • Dancing is a great exercise! But you don’t have to know steps to dance.

      That’s good to know about Livin’ on a Prayer. I should also note for the record that my parents danced what I believe was the waltz to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” at Trevor’s wedding. It was amazing.

  3. I, for one, COMPLETELY agree with you here, Jamey. I have always hated any group dance, and I can’t help but roll my eyes when they come on. I will admit to attempting the Electric Slide once when I was young and didn’t know any better, and it was awful. I’m actually quite coordinated and but I felt nothing but shame as I tried to catch on to each move as I stood (in the way) on the dance floor. Embarrassed that I wasn’t learning quickly enough just led to an even worse performance, and I felt utterly defeated by the time the song was over.

    I will, however, gladly participate in The Hokey Pokey, The Chicken Dance, or even (gasp!) The Macarena if in the company of only close friends and family and lots of alcohol. But given that each of these “dances” require mostly upper body movement only, or they instruct you on what to do with each body part, I don’t feel like those really count. That being said, having those dances at a wedding would be an entirely different pet peeve, at least for me! Cheesy dances like that are best performed in the privacy of one’s home, or your best friend’s basement after too many margaritas when you’ve already humiliated yourself enough by singing “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on their karaoke machine…or so I’ve heard.

    • Katie–I’m happy to hear that someone agrees with me! 🙂

      I have begrudgingly danced the Macarena myself, but heavy emphasis on the word “begrudgingly.” It’s just not fun for me to go through the same motions as everyone else. Perhaps someone can explain this to me: Why would it ever be more fun to focus on performing the exact same moves as everyone else when you could make up your own moves?

      Katie, we’ve all sung Total Eclipse of the Heart at the top of our lungs. Some of us in the car, others in the shower. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      • To try to play the devil’s advocate, I feel like maybe there’s some kind of unity that’s involved when everyone is performing the same dance moves–like it’s an exclusive club that the rest of us aren’t cool enough to join.

        This also makes me think about your pet peeve regarding piano bars because everyone knows the lyrics but you. Unless that song happens to be Total Eclipse of the Heart, apparently. 🙂

        • Katie–I understand that unity. I just like it better when it’s on YouTube than in real life. 🙂

          And for the record, the only lyrics I know from TEotH are “Nothin’ I can do except have a total eclipse of the heart.” And I’m not even sure that’s right. But that doesn’t stop me from singing when no one can hear.

  4. I voted for no dancing at my wedding, but I was overruled. Personally, I just wanted to sit around and catch up with friends & family. We did have Livin’ on a Prayer, which I like as a song, but always feel awkward dancing to. It’s basically a powerful sing-along that doesn’t have any movements that fit well.

    • Trev–No dancing at a wedding? That would be amazing. The two seem to go hand in hand–I never thought that dancing could be eliminated. I love the idea of just sitting around and chatting with friends and family. I’ll consider that for my hypothetical wedding to Amy Adams.

    • Is ‘overruled’ the word you want to use… or is it compromise? I did notice that you ‘caught up with friends with talk and chat’ while your beloved danced ALL the time. And it was nice to see that on some ‘slower’ dances you danced with your beloved…. A good compromise and a nice wedding party for all.

  5. Although I respect your distaste for coordinated dances (they are a tad 7th grade), they serve a very important function at weddings of getting people onto the dance floor. Because the steps are relatively well known and very easy to pick up if you are unfamiliar, they create a comfortable environment in which even the three-left-footed guests can join the party. Further, you don’t need a partner to dance the electric slide, ect, which allows everyone to participate. Finally, dancing is dancing – it’s fun to just move around and have a lot of energy. Coordinated dances accomplish these two goals at all levels – those who have no creativity can just do the prescribed steps, and those who have had one too many dirty shirley temples can add extra kicks, twirls, ect.
    As to a wedding without dancing, that is preposterous. If you do not have dancing at your wedding, I will stand up after dinner, put in my ipod headphones and start dancing by myself.

    • Ariel–I think you have a great point here that coordinated dances are good for people who don’t have dates at the wedding. I hadn’t thought of that.

  6. What are the types of songs you want to hear at a social gathering? Songs that you know the words to is the typical answer. This applies to your coordinated dances. By having movements that “everybody” knows the moves to it creates a mob where everyone can be stupid and enjoy the crazy exaggerated moves of these dances. When I play music in my house during a party, whenever i put on these songs everyone yells with excitement. These dances provide a “safe” environment for people to show off their wild side regardless of if they like to dance or don’t.

    Also I agree that if you try to act one of these dances out, you will get it in a min of two rotations of the moves. (what is the superman dance??? its not the solja boy dance is it?

    • Kevin–This is similar to what Ariel says above, and I think it’s a valid point. Although what I don’t get is, why would these types of songs provide any more of a “safe” environment than songs where you don’t have to know the moves? Aren’t the non-coordinated songs “safer” since you can just be as silly and crazy as you want?

      And yeah, the Superman dance is the Solja boy one.


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