Like most addictions, it began innocently enough. Of course, I never meant to get the children involved. No one ever does. But I couldn’t stop myself.
It started one night last fall when a commercial featuring my eight-year-old daughter was to debut on the ABC affiliate in Rhode Island. We flicked on the set and a whirlwind of sequins, polyester, fake tans, and pulsating music steamrolled into our living room and our consciousness. It was our introduction to Dancing With The Stars and, as with truly addictive personalities, we were hooked within the first ten seconds. Quick Step! Tango! Cha Cha! We didn’t care which dance they did – we just wanted them to do more, more, more!
I confess that I’d rolled my eyes when I heard people carry on about how they loved the dancing and were thrilled to find a primetime show they could watch with children. Even starving children in Africa had no doubt seen the footage of Marie Osmond fainting in a skin-tight, electric blue sausage casing. I had watched it and snorted, Give me a break. Where’s Donny when you need him? My generation grew up doing the bump in neighborhood rec rooms while watching the Donny and Marie Show. We turned in circles at school dances while Led Zeppelin blared from the speakers. What do we know about ballroom dancing? But that is the beauty of the show – you don’t need to know anything.
“Wow, look at that,” I remarked as I plunked on the couch and stared at the set. Within minutes, the kids and I were talking about footwork and choreography and why the women’s costumes were the size of candy wrappers.
“She’s beautiful!” my daughter Jenson shrieked about the dancer shimmying across the shiny floor.
Jenson was right. The dancer was beautiful. Even more to the point, the dancing was beautiful. And we ate up the kicks, lifts, and flips as if they were a thick-crust pizza with extra cheese.
While Jenson threw her arms in the air and twirled around the room, my son Mitch practiced a combination of wrestling and Kung Fu moves. My husband Bill was the only one immune to the show’s flamboyant charms. Right after Jenson’s commercial aired, we all cheered then Bill congratulated her and he started to leave.
“Isn’t it time for the kids to go to bed?” he asked.
Glued to the couch as Mitch fought imaginary bad guys and Jenson swirled around me in a whirlwind of pajamas and prepubescent abandon, I mumbled yeah yeah as the next couple took to the dance floor.
Of course Bill was right. It was time for the kids to go to bed. But that wasn’t going to happen until the last dance was finished and a new champion was crowned. Then the addiction would end. At least until next season.