Can You Feel the Awkwardness Tonight: The Quandary of The First DancePosted: February 22, 2011
Picking a song to dance to for the first time as a married couple can be difficult if you and your betrothed’s favorite slow songs are about dying of alcoholism and the perils of rodeo life. After combing our extensive music collections, I am now convinced that no musician worth slow dancing to has ever experienced happiness, or if they did, it lasted about one verse and ended with a broken heart and a solemn vow to never love again. And so the search for the right song continues. It’s not that Special Someone and I are so desperate to find the perfect summation of our love for each other in a three-minute ballad – we will happily settle for something far less meaningful. It’s more that we don’t want our guests wondering, “What does falling off a bar stool and hitting your head have to do with lifelong commitment?”
Slow dancing just the two of you while everyone looks on is an awkward ritual, made all the more awkward by the fact that these days, no one knows how to do it right (least of all us). Are you supposed to turn in circles the whole time? Because that is what I inevitably end up doing, but I think I must be missing something. (Special Someone is equally lost on this front.) I hear my imaginary Indie Bride friends whispering over my shoulder, “It’s your freaking wedding! Just say no to antiquated traditions that make you uncomfortable!” But, as ridiculous as we might look, I think I will feel unmarried if we don’t do a first dance. We’re planning on taking some lessons, and though these may help with footwork, I doubt they will help us look any less absurd. Can one really do a Viennese Waltz to a lo-fi hipster remake of some lesser Bob Dylan song? I guess anything is possible if you approach it with the right amount of irony.
An alternative is to pick a more fast-paced song and do a choreographed routine. This works for some couples and I have seen stunning proof. But at a wedding of up to 250 guests, many of them co-workers and family friends who don’t know you that well, and a majority of whom have never even met your groom, the prospect of “being yourselves” is intimidating. I don’t know if I’m ready for all of these guests to know how weird my fiancé and I truly are (though they might already be clued in somehow). On the one hand, watching us do our best impression of “Riverdance” or a dramatic interpretation of “If I Were a Carpenter” may be reassuring: “Those two rhythmless dorks were made for each other.” On the other hand, I have to see most of these people again, some of them at work.
Ugh. Well, that’s one more decision to put off until the last minute. And let’s not even start thinking about the father-daughter dance. In the meantime, in an effort to narrow things down, I have started compiling a list of songs that would NOT work for a first dance, but that I hope I can force our DJ to play at the wedding. They are all excellent in their own way, if not exactly marriage material.
Clarence Carter – “Patches” (Alabama sharecropper dies and leaves his son to care for the farm and family. Tear-jerking catastrophes ensue.)
The Shangri-Las – “Leader of the Pack” (High school charmer from “the wrong side of town” loses life in tragic accident.)
Hank Williams – “Wedding Bells” (This sounds like a winner! Until you remember the wedding bells are not pealing for Hank, but for the gal who dumped him.)
The Supremes – “Love Child” (Would definitely give people the wrong idea. Also, the repetition of “Tenement Slum!” seems just a little out of place in a country club ballroom.)
Tina Turner – “Private Dancer” (A not-quite-hooker’s lament. “You don’t look at their faces, and you don’t ask their names.”)
Billy Idol – “Dancing with Myself” (Self-explanatory.)
Lady Gaga – “Bad Romance” (Self-explanatory.)
Prince – “When Doves Cry” (“Maybe I’m just like my mother; she’s never satisfied.” Poor MOBs already get enough grief.)
Rick James – “Superfreak” (“The kind you don’t take home to Mother.”)
Paul Anka – “Diana” (For equality’s sake, we would also need to find a song with Special Someone’s given name, but our knowledge of Swedish techno is elementary at best.)
Wilson Pickett – “Land of 1,000 Dances” (On second thought, I love a good mashed potato almost as much as I love my fiancé, so this may be a First Dance contender.)