Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Forced Fun

Brueghel: "Peasant Dance"
I hate wedding receptions. There. I've said it. I loathe them. I'd rather scrape my cheek against a stucco wall and submerge my head in salt water than go to a wedding reception.

I know. I'm a stick-in-the-mud. Blah, blah, blah. I've heard it before. I'm a stuffed shirt because I don't want to do the chicken dance. I'm a curmudgeon because I don't want to join a conga-line and follow a half-witted dj around the room as he bleats through his cheap PA system about how much fun we are all having. I'm a prude because I don't want to reach up a strange woman's dress to put a garter on her thigh as a room full of orangutans yells "Woooooooo!"

You know, for awhile I believed all of this a little. I actually thought, "Dude, you need to lighten up a bit." But then it occurred to me: the reason I find this stuff so offensive is because there is a kind of personal violation going on. To be forced to "have fun" -- especially on someone else's terms -- is disturbing as hell.

Ever have someone make you laugh when you are mad? It does not help. It's like having your back lovingly rubbed when you have a blistered sunburn.

But the critics of guys like me who don't go in for dj-dictated merriment refuse to respect that someone might be perfectly happy to sit there and take in the scene, congratulate his friends who just got married and go home with a belly full of marginal roast beef and a Coors Light headache/buzz.

And then there's the dancing. To me, dancing should be an expression of joy and of connection to the music. If one feels joyful, one should dance. If the rhythm gets up in ya, dance. But nothing turns me off more than dancing to express coolness, to fake a good time or to stage an insincere, one-dimensional sexual performance. Worse, still, is dancing to music that doesn't move you. So dishonest. (As a drummer, I am not interested in a simple 4/4 thump. So hang me. Bor-ing.)

It took me years to figure it out, but I sometimes do like to dance. You know when? With my kids. It's hilarious. We go nuts. We act silly. But we do it because we feel like it, not because some seafoam-satin-gowned harpy with seven-inch French nails, a three-hour hairdo and so many layers of makeup that a paleontologist wouldn't be able to find her pores grabs our wrists and drags us onto a dance floor. Here's what a real party looks like, if you ask me:

They're celebrating their joy, these lovable (and exceedingly verbal) animals. Some dance; some clap; some watch . . . complete jolliness.

What's more likely -- that the full grown adult who doesn't want to participate in engineered wedding fun is simply unaware of what it means to have a good time or that he just doesn't find the same things fun that Captain Dj does? The question sort of answers itself.

If you like all that stuff, cool. But, for Bacchus's sake, leave people alone who don't want to be dragged into it. Truth is, I like to watch people having fun at weddings. It's perfectly cool to me if you like to dance and play wedding games. As long as everyone is sincere and respectful . . . good times all around.

Anyway, I was thinking about that today. I'm pretty much out of the woods, what with most of my friends being married already, though.


  1. First of all, the highlight of this entry is "marginal roast beef". In that, you are spot-on. As for the rest, I agree in a sense, but something tells me the musician in you is speaking (think about it), not the guy who (like me) can't dance, and doesn't know HOW to fake fun. Maybe I'm off, but knowing you, and knowing how similar I am to you on matters such as this (in truth, I was nodding approvingly the whole time I was reading), I think I'm onto something.

  2. BTW, "not the guy" should have read "or the guy".

  3. I totally agree!!! I'm getting married in September, and I am so happy to be able to say that a). the food will be the highlight of the wedding (surpassing me is totally OK, as far as I'm concerned), there will be no DJ (why do I want some stranger barking orders at my guests?), and...wait for it... no dancing other than the first dance. My fiance was actually the one who hesitated on the no dance floor initially, for fear of disappointing our guests. But if the music so moves them, they are free to start an impromptu -- and genuine -- dance on the lawn. Oh, and no garter either. Ahhh. Because I'll be damned if I'm going to dread my own wedding reception. More food and wine please.

  4. Well stated good sir. I have long felt this way about dancing as well, probably why I was against going to the prom. I feel like there is a strong connection here between this post and the earlier one about tradition. I wonder if the mindset has become "weddings are supposed to have fun, so have fun dammit!" I find being in an enjoyable and jolly atmosphere while spending some time with good friends is a great time. No dancing needed, just a little background beat to bob your head to once in a while. Maybe we can start a whole new level of fun this way. We'll call it metafun: fun from watching others have fun in a fun atmosphere.


  5. Anonymous -- here's me trying to figure out who you are . . . but you are right about the musician angle, for sure. But I admit I'm stumped on "not the guy"? Movie quote? I can't find it in my post . . .

    Hungry Crafter -- first of all, congratulations! It is tough -- the point your fiance makes about letting people down is always an issue. My wife and I caved in on some things, but it didn't stop us from calling the important shots, i.e telling the band what NOT to play. And we eliminated the silly games. Comment quote of the day: "I'll be damned if I'm going to dread my own wedding reception." Awesome. It's true -- I suppose many actually do.

    Papi -- that "Have fun, dammit" atttitude is brutal and I do see the tradition connection. Well put.

  6. Oh, and, Hungry Carfter -- remind me never to look at your site before lunch again. I'm going to go and eat everything in my house. Great stuff!