The cake has been cut and the booze has been flowing freely for about an hour when you look across the dance floor, and you see him. He was at your table, and sitting, he was a well-dressed nothing. But now, he’s dancing, and there’s something about the fluid motion of his arms, the way his kneebone connects to his thighbone, and oh lordy, will you look at his hips? You look away before your heart pops over your sweetheart neckline. You look back, and there he is, asking you to dance. You take his hand, and take your place in the crowd of people swaying and celebrating a new marriage. Welcome to the dance.
What can I say about the wedding dance as a writing prompt? It permeates most cultures, so we’ve all seen it, or can enjoy it on YouTube. When you see the same ritual conducted in so many different settings, it’s easy to imagine it conducted in more fantastic places. A historical Scottish penny wedding, as described on Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion website here. Or a frontier wedding dance on a newly settled planet. Or maybe a fantasy wedding in some delightful fairyland of your imagination.
And of course, what kind of story doesn’t have Things That Go Wrong?
It seems to me that the dance floor at a wedding could throw together all sorts of people who bring their problems with them. A love triangle between college friends of the groom. A heel malfunction that results in a sprained ankle and a call-out for any doctor in the house. A dance move that goes horribly wrong. The historically popular invasion of the enemy powers-that-be while the wedding guests are slowly moving through a formal dance (ick). What she said about Our Shawn’s dancing, the nerve of that woman, she’s always been snooty.
What else can I say? Family, friends, frenemies, booze and other mind-altering substances, high social expectations, music, and of course, people bumping together on and off the dance floor. It’s a keg of dynamite that has a lot of potential for a great story. Happy ending, tragic ending – it’s all up to you.
Here are some links to some wedding dances from around the world. If you’ve got any favorites, please feel free to leave the links in the comments below.
In Japan, and apparently Korea too, friends of the bride and/or groom will do a special performance at the reception to honor/embarrass the bride and groom. Here, the bride and groom join in on the fun, showing a great spirit of cooperation as well as busting some funky K-pop moves. (Duration: 2:01)
I adore the Bollywood take on Jane Austen, Bride and Prejudice, which also happens to feature some great dancing. Here’s a clip from the welcome dance at a real-life (I assume) wedding in India. (Duration: 2:43)
One of the big wedding situations is that the bridesmaids and the groomsmen are often paired up. The artificiality can lead to humor, situations and even luuuuv. These couples are having so much fun in this clip from South Africa! (Duration 1:55)
The dance that captured my heart last night was this dance/performance between a magician groom and his new bride. She casts a spell on him! I’m not sure what this symbolizes for the start of their new relationship, but it sure provokes an interesting story! (Duration: 2:41)
SPECIAL FANGIRL SQUEE
Oh, and by the way, I have some exciting news for Lois McMaster Bujold fans – she’s announced on her GoodReads blog that her new novella is coming out soon. “Penric and the Shaman” is her second written-for-self-publication work of this century, following 2015’s “Penric’s Demon” (Kindle link) which we announced here (scroll down to the end of the post, and for extra unrelated fun, read the comments for Jilly’s “herosmellslike.com” link which was hilarious).
Lois is no novice to self-publishing, and she kindly answered some of my questions about her experience – coming next week on Eight Ladies Writing. Stay tuned, and keep an eye here in the comments, or on Lois’s blog to find out when the new story goes live!