Friday, January 13, 2017

Just Dance, Mormon Style

If you've never been to a Mormon dance, then you are missing out on some genuine humor.  You had to be at least 14 to attend these dances, and most of the boys used it as a way to play hide and seek in the dark.  But when the opportunity arose to slow dance with that church crush of yours, that's where things got interesting.

First off, let me preface this by saying the girls, or sometimes the guys for that matter, were not exactly expected to turn down a request for a slow dance.  You better believe that there's pretty good odds your mom or dad were there at the dance to chaperone.  If you denied a dance, you'd be in some shit with them.  So, like the request or not, you'll accept the offer. 

When I was able to muster up enough courage to ask a girl to dance, it was always a delight.  Given the church is very conservative and it's rules against early dating, kissing and snuggling so strict, one may wonder why there would be any such dance to begin with.   Of course the church had a solution for the possible "feelings" a young man or woman may have if they were to dance together.  It was called the "standard works rule".

For a mormon, the standard works were the entire set of it's holy books.  This included the Bible, both old and new testaments, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.  More on these works another time, for now it's sufficient to just know they were all the word of God to a mormon.

The rule was simple.  When you engaged in a slow dance with another, of the opposite sex of course, you were expected to have a gap the thickness of the standard works between you and your partner.  On top of this, the male would have his left hand holding the female's right hand, while the male's right hand would rest on the female's midsection, above the waist but below the chest, and the female's left hand on the shoulder of the male.

We were not allowed to alter this stance at all.  Doing so would quickly draw the attention of any one of the numerous chaperones and would be dealt with by the appropriate adult priesthood (male) leader.  So, no holding each other by the waist only, or dancing close together so your bodies touch.  No putting heads on shoulders or making any move towards your partner's no no parts.

These dances, looking back on it were pretty lame, and the music was always the same playlist.  "Cotton Eye Joe" anyone?  There were not many options though, I had to go to the dances, just like I had to go to church on Sundays, Family home evening on Mondays, scouts on Wednesdays and other church events on Saturdays.  So, I'd make the best of it and was sure to slow dance with the prettiest girl in the gym.  Pretty on the outside, not inside.  I may have been mormon, but I wasn't blind.

Punch anyone?


  1. I'm somewhat surprised to hear that dances were permitted. A couple guys I went to high school with attended Mormon colleges. I can't remember which ones, but I know one was in Idaho. Neither allowed dancing. I suppose they must have been more fundamentalist-oriented than many.

  2. Probably Ricks College, now known as BYU Idaho. Doesn't surprise me. Being in college there may have been more worry about dancing leading to sex. Who knows. I have found that during my transition, the Utah mormons can be quite different than the midwest. Still bat shit crazy either way.

    1. Yep, it was definitely Ricks. From what I've been able to gather from some visits to Utah, there really isn't any meaningful church-state separation in some of the smaller towns.