Wedding Dances and Sweden
Weddings are awesome. That's not just my opinion that I'm trying to impress upon you. That there is a fact. Weddings are awesome. They're so awesome that whenever they make a movie about weddings, that movie is a success. Think about it. Wedding Crashers, Bridesmaids, The Hangover, The Best Man, Four Weddings and a Funeral, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Wedding Singer, The Wood, My Best Friend's Wedding and the list goes one. They are all good movies because they are all related to weddings. It's a huge day for the couple celebrating and everyone is generally in a great mood. Generally people go to weddings with the intention of getting drunk and having fun. One of my favorite things about weddings is everyone's inhibitions on the dance floor. People don't care if they look like they're dodging bullets while being electrocuted, they just want to dance!
We had a wedding ceremony here in 2008. I consider it one of the best days of my life. My mother, sister and brother all made the trip across the Atlantic to celebrate with us. I will never forget how happy Mom looked on that day. Just dancing the day away. It was a beautiful thing. That wedding was my first wedding experience in Sweden, but it was my wedding. We did all of the things one does at American wedding reception that I like. Cut the cake, first dance and most importantly... group wedding dancing.
When I was a kid it was just "The Electric Slide". At every wedding you'd hear the that snare drum followed by the horns "Doot, doo-doo doot, doo doot..." and EVERYBODY goes to the dance floor. Any DJ worth his salt that sees an empty dance floor at a wedding reception would put on "The Electric Slide" to fill the dance floor. After that, the DJ has to just keep everybody out there. You will almost certainly hear "Shout", "Jump On It" and "Twist". But "The Electric Slide" gets it all started. Why? Because it's a simple line dance that gets everyone involved. You don't have to be good at dancing to do it. Just add your flavor to it. You're walking in different directions to a beat. Simple.
The first time I ever saw the Electric Slide was at a wedding. Everyone was on the dance floor doing this dance that I didn't know. It was pretty cool that everyone was doing it, so I figured I'd go out and try it myself. I saw that it was a repeating pattern. Should be easy. I caught on after a few sequences. It was so fun! Everyone at the party in sync. The bride and groom, my family, little kids, old people, everybody having a good time and smiling as they dip, kick and turn. And there's always that old uncle that spices up his Electric Slide moves. He's gotta throw a bit of hip in the kick and throw his leg as he turns into the rightward steps (my brother will be this old uncle one day).
Naturally, at our wedding in Sweden we did the Electric Slide. I was shocked that nobody knew about this dance. Swedie had done it numerous times with me. DJs in the US had been playing the "Cha-Cha Slide" and "Cupid Shuffle" (two of many variations of the Electric Slide) to fill dance floors and she had been to my family reunion. And a family reunion ain't a family reunion without an Electric Slide. How did people not know about this wonderful icebreaker of a tradition? But it was a wedding. Everybody wants to party anyway. I had my family with me to help demonstrate the dance. After a minute or so the entire room was in unison. It was a beautiful thing. You can do the Electric Slide to any song, as well. It was perfect for any wedding in any country!
Remember when I almost drowned at that bachelorette party? A few weeks later there was a wedding and outdoor picnic reception. It was beautiful. There were blankets set up in the park with champagne and good food and music. Everyone was having a good time. People did what people in most social settings do. They migrated to their respective groups and socialized with glasses in their hands. But this wasn't most social settings. This was a WEDDING! TURN UP!!! There was music playing and no one dancing. So I, being the social butterfly, communications expert and regular wedding/family reunion attendee decided to get this party going. Big Mike (the one that saved my life) and his wife knew how to do the Electric Slide. I rounded them and Swedie up and we started doing it. I had some friends try it as well. My friend Peter tried to join us and he became the first person I've ever seen not be able to pick up on the Electric Slide. Seriously, Peter?
So now the party is started, right? Wrong. We got everyone's attention, but they didn't get the part about joining us. Come on, Swedes! They just watched us. We're not hired entertainment! After a few minutes of this, my friends stopped participating one by one. Even Swedie! Now it was just Mike and me. Then the bride's father came up and tried for a bit. But it was too late. I was drowning again and this time Big Mike couldn't even save me. This was the first ever Electric Slide wedding failure. At the hands of none other than the social wizard Expat Jon.
As you probably know by now, I never learn. I'm not going to give up on my Swedes. I love them. The Swedish in them makes them want to stay who they are and the American in me makes me want to make them more like me. It's a beautiful relationship, I tell you.
Bro-In-Law tied the knot last week. It was a lovely ceremony. I'm glad for him and his wife. Love is a wonderful thing. I had mentioned that we would do "The Wobble". It's the latest wedding party dance. They're all updated versions of the Electric Slide if you ask me. Bro-In-Law is always down for some fun. Considering how my last attempt at a group wedding dance ended, I was a bit scared. Will they join me? Will I look like a street performer again? This time I wouldn't even have Big Mike and his wife to join me! I thought of just letting it go by. Don't mess up what was a wonderful and classy evening with an awkward attempt at a group dance. Maybe Swedes just aren't meant for this.
But the Maid of Honor (Hi Sara!) wasn't having it! She thought it would be fun and told me to just do it. She didn't see how people would not join in. She definitely would. Ok. I put the music on for "The Wobble". People were already dancing (this is a plus). Then I got to the front of the dance floor and asked everyone to join me in a popular line dance called "The Wobble". I assured them that it's easy and fun and is done at every American wedding. They looked skeptical, but we were all in this together now. We faced in the same direction and they watched me as I shouted the moves just before I did them. Everyone followed as best they could for the second go-round. I think the cha-cha part was kind of confusing to them, but they'd get it. With each time the room got more and more in unison. It was so cool. By the second time I could see the entire group (you face different walls of the room each time). It was like we had morphed into an American wedding reception! The entire room was "Wobbling"! Bro-In-Law was having a blast. Smiles were on everyone's faces. The fun of the slight embarrassment of getting the steps wrong was about. Even Bash was acting like a dance maniac in his grandma's arms. The night was complete. Swedes weren't so cold after all. Who doesn't like to line dance?
Now a monster has been created. Every wedding... no... every party I go to, I'll start up a line dance. It may be "The Wobble". It may be "The Cupid Shuffle". Hell, I might even go old school and whip out "The Hustle" leading into "The Electric Slide". Then throw on the "Cha-Cha Slide" to close off the night. Before you know it, people will be doing "The Wobble" around the giant wooden penis at a Midsommar celebration. A man can dream. Until next time...