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Unchaining the Human Heart
— A Revolutionary Manifesto
A Book by J. Neil Schulman
Chapter 5: Stomping Out Dancing

When I was a small child — through around age seven — I was as physically active as most normal children. I ran, jumped, played outdoors with my friends. I was not overweight and I don’t recall having any less physical energy and stamina than the friends I played with. But just a few years after that I was overweight, had no physical stamina for running, and compared to the kids around me I had little upper body strength. I’ve never been able to do push-ups, pull-ups, climb ropes, and my one attempt to do overhand bars resulted in my falling, hitting my head, and losing consciousness. Frankly, I don’t know how to account for what happened to me, but I do know that for most of my life physical activities that require stamina and wind have been challenging for me.

No, I’ve never been diagnosed with a breathing disorder such as asthma.

Ironically, I’m otherwise gifted at physical coordination. I have good hand-eye coordination. I’m a good shot with both rifles and handguns, and the first time I had a shotgun in my hand I hit four out of five skeet clays launched for me.

When in ninth grade I tried out for my junior-high-school’s basketball team, I was as good or better than anyone else in the try-outs at sinking baskets. But I couldn’t make the team because after only a few seconds into court play I didn’t have the wind to continue.

I did a little better at boxing because I could learn and use combinations effectively. But if I couldn’t beat my opponent quickly it was over for me: I’d simply run out of breath and have to give up.

These limits on my capacity for physical exertion meant that I could never become an expert dancer. When I think about this it’s painful. It may be one of the few actual regrets I have in my life. Because of this, if there has been any envy in my life, it has always been for dancers even more than for accomplished musical instrumentalists.

Because my father was a violinist, classical ballet music became some of my favorites; but I always hated watching ballet on TV. I thought it was ballet dancing I hated. It took me years to discover — and only when in my thirties I first attended a live performance at the New York City Ballet — that the reason I hated watching ballet on TV, and thought it was ballet itself that I hated, was that TV directors told the camera operators to stay close on the dancers and track them across the stage. In other words, all the choreography was lost to me because I couldn’t see the full stage. It was probably the low-resolution of American television which made this necessary, but in my opinion only large-screen HDTV can show ballet the way it needs to be seen: by locking a single camera on the whole stage and simply televising what someone seated in an orchestra seat would see.

So, I discovered late in life that, despite it largely being a spectator sport for me, I love even ballet dancing. Including figure skating.

And, for the record, I also love show tunes. If it weren’t for the fact that I have zero interest in sex with other men and am obsessed with wanting to have sex with women, I’d make a pretty good gay man. I think this makes me what lately has been called metrosexual.

I passed through puberty in the early 1960’s, close enough to the 50’s that it was still expected that a young man should learn ballroom dancing. In seventh grade, after school, I attended a class in which I was taught — among others — the Foxtrot, the Waltz, the Tango, and the Mambo. In fact, on the day of the big Northeastern Power Blackout on November 9, 1965, I was in my dance class when the electricity went out.

But the 60’s was also the decade in which traditional ballroom partner dancing was largely replaced at social functions by free-form solo dancing: the Twist, the Frug, the Swim, and the Hully Gully. I never warmed much to the change. It was the romantic in me. Why would I want to be on a dance floor by myself instead of holding a girl in my arms?

Which brings us to the recent case of high-school senior, Tyler Frost.

In May, 2009, Tyler Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in Findlay, Ohio, was suspended from his school because, after being warned not to, he defied his school’s ban on dancing and took his girlfriend, Rebecca Smooty, to Findlay High School’s prom.

Heritage Christian School is a private Baptist school that bans dancing, rock and roll, and hand-holding.

Suspended for going to another school’s prom. The Baptists running the Heritage Christian School might as well be the Taliban.

I’m a solid believer in God, but self-righteous Christians and Muslims who make music and dance their nemesis are my enemy and should be the enemy of all freedom-loving Americans. Just because they conduct their jihads without taxpayer funds doesn’t make them any less vile.

The fanatic Baptist hatred of music and dancing isn’t new. The wonderful 1984 (1984!) movie Footloose fictionalized a story of Baptist-controlled Elmore City, Oklahoma, which through 1980 had a city ordinance banning dancing. This wasn’t just a private school enforcing its dogmatic policies on one of its students. This was an actual American city whose tyrannical blockheads used the police power of government guns to enforce their theocratic prohibition of a major form of human self-expression.

Oh, but surely the federal courts will protect us from such theocratic laws?

Guess again. The town of Purdy, Missouri also banned dancing. A lawsuit was filed against the town in federal court — Clayton v. Place — which reached the United States 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. That court upheld the town’s right to ban dancing — and both a request for a re-hearing and an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States were denied.

The right of a town to ban dancing is established federal law in the United States of America.

And some might wonder why I consider the religious right just as much a threat to human liberty as the secular left.

No, the Baptists weren’t the first to ban dancing, nor are they the last.

If you watch another 1984 movie Amadeus — 1984 again? Hmmm! — you learn that 18th-century Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II — a secular autocrat considered hostile to papal authority — nevertheless had to be convinced by Mozart (and possibly in real life by Salieri) to rescind his ban on ballet dancing within operas.

But it wasn’t just ballet that has inflamed the guardians of public morals. It was also ballroom dancing.

When the Waltz spread from Austria and Germany to England and France in the early 19th century, The Times of London in 1816 wrote, “‘National morals depend on national habits: and it is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs, and close compressure of the bodies, in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adultresses we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced upon the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

The reason dancing is threatening is that dancing is sexual. Oddly enough, the sexuality of dance was used as a substitute for sex, itself, by the 19th century Christian sect, the Shakers. I’ve visited Shaker Villages in New England. These are historical preservations because there aren’t any Shakers anymore. They refused to have sex and died out. In my view that’s taking the love of dancing just a dance step too far.

Other ballroom dancing — particularly the Tango and the Lambada — have provoked similar reactions.

Islam doesn’t allow dancing between unmarried men and women, nor dancing intended to arouse sexual passion.

So the banning of dance is just one battle in the War on Sex.

Which I’ll discuss further in my next chapter.

Next in Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is Chapter VI: Go Kuck Yourself!

Unchaining the Human Heart — A Revolutionary Manifesto is
Copyright © 2010 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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