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Ford column: I hope you dance

Honestly, can you say you’ve driven past Shoaf’s Wagon Wheel on Highway 601 and not wondered…
What goes on in there?
Packed or pitiful?
Could I?
Should I?
Thanks to a friend with an adventurous spirit, a group of us recently ended years of curiosity. And just let me say, you could and you should.
Fulfilling our friend’s final wish before she moved to the Midwest, we pulled somewhat tentatively into the parking lot at the Wagon Wheel on a Saturday night.
Three minutes later, I believe everyone was on the dance floor.
Three hours later, we’d line danced and partner danced. We’d danced the two-step, the shuffle and Cotton Eyed Joe. Our feet hurt from stomping and our faces hurt from smiling.
Basically, none of us had a clue what we were doing. But by watching experienced dancers and following the lead of some sure-footed cowboys, we caught on pretty quickly.
With a live band, $10 admission and no alcohol, the Wheel is all about moving your feet. While I love a good mosh pit as much as the next girl, galloping across the floor and learning the steps to old-fashioned folk and country dances felt just as exhilarating.
Regardless of the moves or the music, adults need to dance more.
Kids dance all the time. They leap to their feet when the mood strikes, when the music moves them.
They take tap and ballet lessons. They have dances at schools and parties. They whirl and twirl with abandon.
Adults dance at rare special occasions, like weddings or charity fund raisers. But generally, once we hit our 20s and 30s, we’d rather sit down than boogie down.
Which is unfortunate, since dancing can bring such joy. Dancing makes us feel connected to each other and to our past.
Dancing is profound and silly and ancient and fresh.
My favorite viral videos show dancing. Try watching these on YouTube without smiling.
The guy who does a passionate (and spontaneous) two-minute dance to “Living on a Prayer” on the Jumbotron at a Boston Celtics game.
A flash mob of 200 dancers who surprise people at a train station in Amsterdam by suddenly breaking into dance to the Sound of Music’s “Do-Re-Mi.”
And Matt Harding, the 32-year-old video game designer who quit his job to film himself dancing extraordinarily badly all over the world.
Harding made two solo videos, then decided the third should include other dancers. So he traveled the world again and filmed himself dancing with bouncing bushmen in New Guinea, giggling waitresses in Tokyo, ecstatic children in Yemen and Bhutan and Jordan and South Africa.
While watching Harding dance alone is entertaining, watching him dance with others brings me to tears every single time.
All over the globe, his awkward jig draws crowds of enthusiastic, joyful people of different ages and races and nationalities, dancing alongside him in their own goofy style.
Whether watching Harding’s video or country-western dancing at the Wagon Wheel, the world seems smaller, simpler.
We are human. No matter where we live or how different we appear, we all love and hurt and yearn and celebrate.
We all dance. At least, we all should.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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