Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The first dance rocks

THE first dance — even now the words give me butterflies. And not in a nice way. For someone with

THE first dance — even now the words give me butterflies. And not in a nice way. For someone with all the natural rhythm of a potato, preparing for the first dance was without a doubt my least favourite aspect of planning my wedding two years ago. As a result, my fiancé and I let the first dance slip to the very bottom of the “wedmin” pile.

This is not to say that the issue wasn’t on our minds in the run-up to our nuptials. We did our market research. We polled all our married friends and family for song recommendations, baulked at the price of dance lessons and spent many an evening playing an iPod shuffle version of roulette — a never-ending game of “the next song that comes on will be our song”. Inevitably, the next song was always something with an inappropriate title, unsavoury lyrics or an improbable beat. We were drawing blanks left, right and centre.

Then, for a giggle, a friend emailed me a YouTube link to Jill And Kevin’s Big Day wedding video — 79 million hits no less — and introduced me to the cultural phenomenon that is the choreographed surprise wedding dance.

YouTube is now awash with amateur videos from weddings across the globe, where the bride and groom have followed (some very well, some appallingly) in the fancy footsteps of Jill and Kevin, Judy and Derek and my personal favourites, Michelle and John.

In case you are not au fait with the craze, let me bring you up to speed. The choreographed surprise wedding dance starts like a typical first dance — the couple swaying awkwardly in the centre of an empty dancefloor, friends and family packed around the edges taking photographs, groom leaning in to whisper something romantic in his new bride’s ear... and then the music stops. The couple stop dancing and look confused (cue dramatic head-scratching) before a new song begins and the newlyweds leap into a high-octane dance routine, sometimes complemented by ushers and bridesmaids.

When it’s done well (see Michelle and John) the effect is sensational. Done badly (see the majority of “surprise first dance” videos on YouTube) the effect is toe-curling. Needless to say, the first Gangnam Style wedding dance has just gone viral at the time of writing.

As I lost myself in these video clips, I became aware of a tough predicament. I wanted to do it. I really, really wanted to do it. Like so many brides, I loved the idea of shunning expectations and shaking things up a bit.

But in the end it was a safe, slow song for us, and an awkward shuffle around the dance floor. In our wedding photos where my husband appears to be whispering sweet nothings to me during our first dance, he’s actually whispering the mantra “side, back, rock, step” over and over in my ear. We had been taught this by Bob the Texan dance instructor on YouTube some 72 hours earlier and it was our lifeline.

My advice to brides? If you have an ounce of rhythm or truckloads of confidence, give your guests a laugh and go for the dance routine, or just pick a song you both love to dance to and throw yourself around the dance floor like a couple of loonies for three minutes. Remember what it’s like to be a wedding guest — the first dance is the last formality before the real partying begins, so why not bring the fun forward by a few minutes?

If, on the other hand, you fancy dazzling your guests, there are plenty of dance instructors out there who can take you through a few steps that will give your first dance a bit of pizzazz.

Good luck — and have fun!

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