The Death of the Slow Dance

Julie Ballantyne Brown
4 min readSep 21, 2021

No more swaying to power ballads in the gym?

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Picture it: a sweaty high school cafeteria dance, circa 1992.

“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory has just ended and the first strains of Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” start to swell. There were apparently a lot of parentheses in 90’s pop songs.

The dance floor changes over from 200 gyrating, hopping, teenagers grouped in circular clumps to couples swaying under the required disco ball that always accompanies these dances.

The couples all dance a little differently, but the basic stance prevails: the girl has her arms wrapped around the guy’s neck, the guy has his arms wrapped around the girl’s waist, teachers watching closely for hands that wander to much. (Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye” was a good song for that.)

Those were the days.

It wasn’t always a good time. Sometimes, someone asked you to dance who you didn’t really like, but you accepted to be polite. There was a picture taken of me at the Band Camp dance one year, dancing with someone who I clearly did not want to dance with. I caught a lot of flack for that, which I brushed off because I was ‘tired’, but from my expression is very clear that I was not happy with my dance partner.

But mostly, the slow dance was fun. There was kissing, sometimes. There were whispers of promises. The were new couples dancing for the first time, awkward and shy. There were couples who seem to stay locked in a kiss for the whole song. Above all, there was romance for those 3-ish minutes until the last notes echoed away and Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch started “Good Vibrations” with Loleatta Holloway. The couples dispersed, hand-in-hand, or rushed with the others back onto the dance floor for another “fast song”.

But, according to my sons, high school dances don’t really work like that anymore, at least not where we live. When they started to going to Homecoming and proms, I asked who they danced with during the slow songs. I was informed, with lots of eye rolling, that no one did that anymore, Mom.

That made me sad. I always looked forward to slow dances. I loved the romance of being with that crush, the chance to catch my breath from “Mony…

--

--

Julie Ballantyne Brown

Future London resident. Follow Julie on Twitter: @BrownBallantyne or on FB and Instagram: @JulieBallantyneBrown