First Dance

A little over a week ago (2/18) Keana and I attended our first Father-Daughter Dance at her school. The flyer came home a week before that and I have to say, I was a little shocked (for lack of a better word) when I saw it. I don’t know why exactly, but I hadn’t even thought about father-daughter dances and certainly not this early in the game. A hundred emotions and questions came over me and I didn’t even know if this was something I wanted to participate in. Keana was so excited though and couldn’t wait for us to go, so any reservations I had were instantly eliminated.

The dance wound up on the Friday of the week we had all been sick, so we were all still reeling a bit from that experience, but there were no excuses, we were going. On the night of the dance Keana said she had to get her best “rock star” outfit on, and chose a black top with rhinestone accents, stretch pants with hearts on them, and her Keens (her favorite shoes). Sarah pulled her hair back into a ponytail with one side wisp hanging down for a little whimsy I guess. She looked great and more importantly, she loved her outfit and was comfortable. I wore a standard black shirt and jeans and we were set to go.

It was pouring that night so we ran from the car towards the cafeteria from which we heard the blaring pop music. It was a pretty good turnout, maybe 40 or 50 duos. Keana made a beeline for the cookies and water, and after having finished her first cookie, was ready to dance. There were lots of dads standing around the perimeter as their daughters danced with their friends, and I sort of felt bad for them (even though I think they were all secretly relieved). Keana has some great moves though, often ranging between action-hero-esque punches and kicks, hip shaking, and twirls. It wasn’t long before she wanted some Michael Jackson, so we went up on the stage where the DJ was and made the first request for MJ. Keana has been on a big Thriller kick, so that’s the song we requested (and the crowd went wild).

We danced on and off, taking breaks for cookies and water, and a little later for pictures. Only three other girls from her class showed up, but two of them were up in the front by the speakers and it was way too loud for Keana there. I think my experience loud music and my own hearing damage made the sound level tolerable, but for her sensitive ears, it was too much. So we spent the last 30 minutes or so in the hallway, while she and her friend Nailah played under the awning as the rain poured down around us. I got to know Nailah’s dad better and we had a great conversation about the area and music. Turns out he mixes music for reality TV shows like Project Runway and Desparate Housewives, so it was cool to hear about his experience with that.

We went inside for the last dance and after she said goodbye to her friends, we headed to the grocery store for a late sushi snack. I think we both had a lot of fun, even though the music was too loud. It was just special to go out and do something different, just us, Papa and his first born.

Afterwards I realized that it was one of those experiences where all of your own memories, preconceptions, and emotions are edging your child’s feelings out. This dance triggered my memories of school dances and made me fast-forward to Keana being 12 and going to her first dance and all the wonderful and terrible things that conjures in a dad’s mind. Also I couldn’t help but lament the fact that some day she won’t be excited to have time just the two of us. But once I was able to settle all that down, all I could see was my five-year-old, excited about dancing at school with the other kids, and excited about getting me to herself for two hours.