It’s an old joke from Borscht Belt comedians. A man comes to the rabbi and asks, “Rabbi, is it true that a man and a woman dancing together is forbidden?” The rabbi responds rather vehemently, “Yes, of course. It is forbidden for a man and a woman to dance together.”
The man goes on to ask another question. “Rabbi, what about a man and a woman having sex?” The rabbi responds, “If they’re married, of course. It’s a mitzvah! [A positive, commanded deed]
The man asks, “Is it okay to do in the bedroom?” Rabbi: “Of course.”
Man: “How about in the kitchen?” Rabbi: “I see nothing wrong with that.”
Man: “And what about positions? Could we do it laying down?” Rabbi: “Naturally. It’s a mitzvah!”
Man: “How about in a sitting position?” Rabbi: “Yes!”
Man: “Side by side?” Rabbi: “Without a doubt!”
Man: “Standing up?” Rabbi: “Absolutely not! Totally forbidden!”
Man: “Huh? Why not standing?” Rabbi: “Could lead to dancing!”
This joke came to mind this week because, if it weren’t for… ummm… “dancing”… none of us would be here and there would be no Father’s Day which some of us happily celebrated on the weekend. Long before I donned a pair of dance shoes and took my first nerdish steps on a dance floor, I heard many stories of my parents going out dancing to live music at the Palace Pier Ballroom, the Palais Royale, and on very special occasions, to the Royal York Hotel.
Now, close to celebrating his 90th birthday at the end of the year (G-d willing), my dad dances far less than he used to. Nonetheless, he still has a great love for good music – mostly jazz – and a warm place in his heart for moving with a great partner to great music on a great dance floor.
My own, most recent, fatherhood is also the result of dancing – salsa dancing, specifically – which is how I met a wonderful woman who is both a great dance partner and life partner. That’s not to suggest that the main reason for learning to dance is to meet a life partner. But, there are worse “unintended consequences” than connecting with someone through dance. As my students have heard me say many times, “salsa is a metaphor for life.” Meeting someone with whom you have great connection, wonderful communication, equal push-and-pull on each other, and the ability to execute both the rote patterns and unexpected improvisations of life is not a bad thing. Certainly, dancing with a partner gives you a way to know someone in a variety of ways and situations before feeling moved to make a long-term commitment.
So here’s to the fathers particularly on this post-Father’s Day week. And especially, here’s to the father who dance, and who will inspire their children to dance because, grandchildren, when we…
See you on the dance floor (or maybe not… you know… if you’re “dancing…” 😉 )