Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Time To Mourn And A Time To Dance

Recently I attended another in a long-line of parties populated by fellow saints from my singles ward – a dance party at the home of a group of reasonably high-profile girls whom I’d previously home taught. I thought it would be fun to support my former home teach-ees and eat their brownies.

My roommates, however, disagreed, noting that Mormon dance parties are pointless. “Why should we go to a party just to watch all the girls dance together?”

I hadn’t thought of things that way, but my friends’ prediction proved uncannily accurate: About 20 girls were dancing in a big, impenetrable glob – getting oh-so worked up when Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” came up – while the half-dozen attending men shuffled in the corner, talking amongst themselves about sports and eating brownies.

An utterly bizarre phenomenon, an outsider might observe: why would so few men come to an event where women are literally boxed in for them, and why would those who did come be so timid?

But to the Mormon single, particularly the male, this is a quintessential Kobayashi Maru, the no-win scenario.

Dancing is a casually intimate event, potentially enticing to continued romantic pursuit – a perfect ice-breaker in a typical setting. But even something as harmless as trying to initiate a non-threatening dance in a church-confined situation such as this can make a man seem too aggressive physically, and LDS girls are brought up to spurn physical aggression of any kind. So any girl a boy approaches will no doubt reject him publicly (either on the spot or amongst her friends after he’s departed).

In fact, the only thing more repellant to a girl in this scenario than being approached boldly by a man at this party is not being approached boldly by a man at this party. He’s got one shot with one girl, and then he’s ruined any hopes with the other 19.

It’s lose-lose. Because of this, many men will simply blow the event off, regardless of the fact that they would much rather carouse with girls on a Saturday night than stay home and play video games with their friends. Given this, the surprising thing to me is not that so few boys come to a Mormon dance party, but that so many do. It reminds me of a line from my favorite romantic comedy, “Annie Hall”:

This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken.” And, uh, the doctor says, “Well, why don't you turn him in?” The guy says, “I would, but I need the eggs.”

Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs.

Mormon men need eggs. Oh boy, do they need eggs, but when they can’t get that, most will settle for brownies.


Ashley C said...

I would disagree that girls think a guy coming to dance with them would be too forward. He doesn't need to single her out, just be willing to dance in general - girls are kind of annoyed that the guys never seem to be willing to dance and have a good time.

This is not a problem in Oz, incidentally. However, it does bring it back to the same problem that happens in the States and why I don't much care for dance parties myself anymore: they don't go anywhere. You aren't talking or getting to know anyone because the music is too loud and you are all just moving around. I don't think I've ever gotten a date out of a dance, even back when we did the slow dances in YM/YW.

Same with the big Mormon parties. You go around having the same 15-min conversation with 10 people, rarely making any real connections or memories, yet we all go to them regularly and feel like we are being socially active. I prefer to use them to meet new people, and actually go with a small group where we actually DO something and create memories.

Bryce's Ramblings said...

I know lots of single Mormon girls. Not many single Mormon guys. I've heard a lot of bemoaning about the reluctance of Mormon guys to go on dates, and this is something I've never understood. Back in my dating days, I tried to date as many different girls as possible. Just casual dinner and a movie affairs. Enough to see if I wanted to go on a second date or not. I only rarely had a girl turn me down, and that was because she had a boy friend.

Then again, I never went to dances unless it was with a specific girl. I can see why the situation you describe would be problematic . . .

Ironic collector said...

Jared - you know they are actually women, not girls, right? Because you shouldn't try to be dating girls.

Whitleypedia said...

Ironic collector, there's an old adage that you should always call a woman a "girl" until she has grey hair. Tis not intended as a pejorative.

Ironic collector said...

No offense taken, I just like to tease :)

Tiff said...

I always figured that guys didn't dance at dance parties because they did't like to dance or they were afraid of looking stupid or something. It was actually at an improv dance party that I decided I liked Albert because he danced and I LOVE to dance. If a guy refused to dance I immediate wrote him off as someone I didn't want to date because who wants to date someone who doesn't like to dance? That means they are no fun. I liked guys who were confident and relaxed enough to dance.

Sometimes we go to single friends' parties and they are so weird. I always thought they were weird before, but now not having the pressure of finding a mate, it's realy weird. No one will talk to you if you are married and everyone acts so strange, like they can't relax and they laugh really loud at really stupid things.


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