When I was young, I read everything. Anything I could see that had a word on it was fair game. I would sound the words out in my head and proudly announce them to anyone near enough to listen. One of the first signs I distinctly recall reading was hanging in the Rugby Rescue Squad building. When the community would have a gathering, they would drive all of the emergency vehicles out of their garage bays and set up rows of tables in their place. The ladies cooked all day and brought trays of food: chicken and dumplings, barbecued pork, bowls piled with green beans and collard greens plucked from their gardens that morning and simmered in pork fat all day. Banana pudding, strawberry layer cakes, peach pies with flaky buttery crusts. A murphy bed style stage covered in brown astroturf-type carpeting was pulled down and microphones set upon it. My dad and other local musicians played music during the festivities. Hanging just to the right of the stage was a handwritten sign, always hanging slightly askew, that proclaimed "No Dancing".
I remember asking my dad why no one was permitted to dance along with the music, as I was pretty much an expert flat-footer at the age of 6 and couldn't wait to show off my amazing moves. Most especially the one I had just learned where I would bend my knee and hold my foot out behind me and frantically twirl it in a circle in hopes the rotations were in time to the beat. When you're six years old and dancing in front of a crowd of adults, that's the money move right there. After some research, YouTube has just informed me that the move is called the Haywheeler. I have attached a simplified version I found if you want to practice it yourself. Make sure to move knee-height valuables and check the whereabouts of your kids and pets first.
My dad told me that dancing wasn't allowed because the local religious leaders said dancing was a sin and that it was an expression of the devil. I remember thinking that seemed a bit farfetched to me as I enjoyed dancing to express happiness and it didn't seem to hurt anyone, but I was petrified to upset anyone or get in trouble, so abided by the rule. I found subtle ways to dance around the injunction a bit though (see what I did there?), bouncing on the seat of my aluminum folding chair while my dad played his guitar from the stage, and always adding extra pep to my steps as I circled around the cake walk.
I feel like the Dixie Chicks said it best, because Some days you gotta dance/Live it up when you get the chance/'Cause when the world doesn't make no sense/And you're feeling just a little too tense/Gotta loosen up those chains and dance!
Next time I will tell you about how a prominent member of the community, Kate Tucker, defied the No Dancing rule, and got the last laugh.