by Father Mark Goldasich
FLOOR GIVES WAY UNDER POLKA DANCERS; SCORES INJURED; BAND PLAYS ON.
Thank goodness that headline never actually appeared in a newspaper, but it wouldn’t have surprised me if it did. I would have immediately known which floor collapsed and wondered privately why it hadn’t happened sooner.
Growing up, I attended more than a few wedding receptions on Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kan., in a building called Polaski Hall. As I remember it, the hall was on the second floor. And that floor was, for lack of a better word, “bouncy.” It seemed normal enough underfoot when you were just walking on it. But put several dozen polka dancers out there — make that enthusiastic polka dancers — and the floor literally shook in rhythm to the music. As I conjure up the scene, it was not a gentle little shaking, either.
That long-ago memory of wedding receptions and polka dancers came rushing to mind in mid-August when I was reading an essay in Entertainment Weekly magazine by the novelist Stephen King.
In it, he talked about a video clip that he had watched on YouTube. It shows a middle-aged man in the music section of a Best Buy store. The angle and quality of the picture suggest that the scene was captured by the store’s security camera.
What grabs you immediately is the music in the background. King points out that the song is an “oldie” by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: “Going To A Go-Go.” If you find yourself swaying a bit already just at the mention of that song, then you would feel right at home with the gentleman in this short video.
The guy, who would never be mistaken for a professional dancer or even a contestant on “Dancing With The Stars,” is uninhibited. Although he could have made as a contestant on the old “Gong Show.” In any event, in the video this man moves from nodding his head to the music, to making a few restrained dance steps, to playing a wicked “air guitar,” to finally really cutting loose right there in the store — twisting, shaking, and shimmying. The music itself and the pure joy of dancing have totally captured him.
They also captured Stephen King and me and the 421,933 people who have viewed this YouTube clip online so far. (If you’re curious and want to see it for yourself, go to: www. youtube.com, and then search for “crazy man Best Buy.”) That guy in Best Buy looks like he’s having the time of his life, and his enthusiasm and abandon are infectious.
Just like those polka dancers were long ago in my youth. Although there are three basic steps to the polka, every dancer adds his or her own flair and personality to it. The abandon and enthusiasm of those polka dancers at Polaski Hall were so contagious that even the floor seemed to “dance” along.
In his essay, King makes the point that all too often we surrender what we enjoy — what really touches our heart and soul — in favor of what reviewers or critics say. For example, we treat “their” top-10 lists of music, art, theater, books, or movies as “the” top-ten list. And that’s silly. We don’t need to apologize for what makes our spirit soar (provided, of course, that it’s not immoral or illegal). King concluded his essay with: “I don’t know if these things are art, and I really don’t care. All I know is that they make me want to laugh and dance in the aisle at Best Buy. And that’s enough.”
Without diminishing the importance of pondering the bigger, more serious moral issues during Respect Life Month, it would also be a disservice to ignore those small, personal things that can make our lives richer and more blessed. One exercise for our prayer time in October might be to compile some top-10 lists of our own. Start with scribbling down some favorite prayers, Scripture passages, spiritual books, saints, or hymns. While there is a certain feeling of satisfaction in simply compiling these top 10s, there is even more joy in making time to experience and savor these special prayers, readings or songs.
When people flip through the song library on my iPhone, they are amazed at the “weird mix” there: from classical to R&B, from smooth jazz to country, from polka to gospel music. I won’t apologize; these are the special songs that keep me “in tune” with my heart and soul . . . and jolt my feet every now and then into dancing.
Because my gyrations are known to send my cats scurrying for cover, I do have the decency to close my curtains and spare my neighbors any anguish when I’m seized with an irresistible urge to dance. Maybe one day, though, I’ll be so captured by the incredible joy of living that I’ll not hold back . . .
So, Best Buy beware.