Filed Under:

The Magic Of Music And A Little Room To Groove

Play associated audio

Alan Heathcock is the author of the story collection Volt.

Last week, my wife suggested we have a dance floor installed in our family room. She was smiling ear to ear, wiping sweat from her eyes. Behind her, our three kids took turns showing off their moves as Michael Jackson's P.Y.T. blared over the speakers.

Years ago, for our wedding reception, we rented steel-reinforced parquet tiles that made up a dance floor in our family room. Every time I stepped onto the floor I felt empowered. I couldn't cross those tiles without tapping my toes. Back then we'd discussed buying the dance floor. But at best a dance floor seemed impractical, at worst a little crazy.

But is crazy all that bad?

I remember being a teen and my friends thinking it was a little crazy that my father had dubbed Friday nights as "Culture Night" in our house. On such nights he'd play records and have us dance. I remember one night he was playing an old Wilson Pickett record, and I tried out some new break-dance moves, spinning around on my back, grabbing myself in precarious places. My father had looked a little confused, but said, "Not bad, kid. Now step aside and let your pop show you a thing or two." Then he did this little James Brown-type thing, sliding to one side while dragging a foot. I wanted that move. I needed that move. I stood beside my father and followed his footsteps.

So many things were affirmed on those Friday nights. We danced to everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to Lightnin' Hopkins, the Bobby Allen Band to Marvin Gaye, my brother and I laughing while we practiced our moves, imagining what we'd unveil at the next school dance. Or watching my mother and father waltz around the room, smiling, and knowing it was love I was watching.

I fell in love with my wife dancing, kissed her for the first time on a dance floor.

My daughters, who are 12 and 5, spend hours working out little routines to Katy Perry songs. I watch them bounce about the room, hitting poses in unison, without the slightest edge of self-consciousness, and I know they know the secret.

I tell my son, who's now 15 and a bit worried about looking foolish, that the only foolishness is going to a dance and not dancing at all.

The world is always moving, cars speeding here and there, the Earth spinning and turning around the sun, and day becomes night and the night becomes day, and even as our lives pass us by we stand still, trapped in the calcified malaise that too often rules our spirits. We've become a world of wallflowers.

What a thing it is to dance, to feel music in your blood, to have your heart alive and your body free. My wife wasn't serious about getting a dance floor installed. But I'm starting to like the idea.

I think we could all use a little room to groove.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Poetry Behind Bars: The Lines That Save Lives — Sometimes Literally

Words Unlocked, a poetry contest for juveniles in corrections, has drawn more than 1,000 entries. Its judge, Jimmy Santiago Baca, says it was a poetry book that helped him survive his own prison term.
NPR

When It Came To Food, Neanderthals Weren't Exactly Picky Eaters

During the Ice Age, it seems Neanderthals tended to chow down on whatever was most readily available. Early humans, on the other hand, maintained a consistent diet regardless of environmental changes.
NPR

Trump And Cruz Campaign At California GOP Convention

The remaining Republican presidential candidates have been making their case at the party's state convention. Capital Public Radio's Ben Adler explains the divisions on display among Republicans.
NPR

'The Guardian' Launches New Series Examining Online Abuse

A video was released this week where female sports journalists were read abusive online comments to their face. It's an issue that reaches far beyond that group, and The Guardian is taking it on in a series called "The Web We Want." NPR's Audie Cornish speaks with series editor Becky Gardiner and writer Nesrine Malik, who receives a lot of online abuse.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.