Everybody loves a winner, but I’m particularly grateful to Pittsburgh Steeler football player, Hines Ward, for what he has accomplished for himself, and for the art of dance. Since his participation and win on Dancing With The Stars, dancing is experiencing an enhanced public image, particularly among young males. (And some women may have a new interest in football.)
I’m imagining the conversation when this popular wide receiver’s PR advisors suggested he participate in the television reality dance contest. Another football player, Emmett Smith had done it a few years ago, so there’s some data on what it could do for a football player’s endorsement career. Perhaps someone mentioned teammate Troy Palamalu who’s popular with a female audience and who, with his famous long flowing tresses, makes millions as spokesperson for a shampoo company.
Dance, one of the oldest of the arts, and a central part of celebrations and building community, has been maligned in western civilization for the past few generations. Except for weddings and ballet lessons for young girls, most people don’t dance, and maintain that they can’t. Like the line from the song, “I won’t dance, don’t ask me,” most white men avoid dancing like it was the plague.
As a therapist, I’ve encountered young single men, hoping to meet a special woman in their lives. Shy and unsure of themselves socially, they find the meeting and dating rituals particularly difficult. I would teasingly tell them, “I know where the women are, and I even know how you can meet them. All you have to do is be willing to learn how to dance. Your stock will go up on that basis alone.”
The generation who grew up in the era of the Big Bands was most often the people who did ballroom, swing, and Latin partner dances. Younger people took up dances that involved standing somewhere in the vicinity of a partner and gyrating. Twenty-five years ago, my husband gave me an anniversary present by agreeing to take ballroom dancing lessons with me. We took hundreds of lessons, usually on Friday evenings after work. It became a great stress reliever, getting us away from the weekly worries of being small business owners. Through the years since, it has become the gift that keeps on giving. Every wedding, cruise, or dinner dance fund-raiser we attend, we use the skills we acquired in those years, enhancing our enjoyment of those occasions, and of one another. (And Rich’s female relatives never mind if I had to miss a family social event because that means more opportunities to dance with him since the men in their lives never took dancing lessons.)
Thank you, Hines for demonstrating the fun, joy, and value of dance. And for all your hard work and willingness to learn something new at this time in your life. You are a great role model for people of all ages. Thank you especially for enduring the relentless teasing of your team mates as you began your dancing career. I’m guessing that in addition to this new skill enriching your social life, when you get those endorsement checks from products that appeal to women, you will have the last laugh.