Maybe Mennonites Dance Now
But they Didn’t in the 1950s
In Lancaster County, PA
In her nineties, my mother jived to music on iTunes from my iPod. But she was dancing with her hands and heart, not her feet. Her heart? Yes, she was probably recalling Daddy playing the piano “Turn Your Radio On.”
Growing up, I knew that dancing was forbidden by Mennonite church rules. Article V—Restrictions, Section 1 states:
Members shall not indulge in the world’s methods of pleasure-seeking, amusements, and entertainments, patronizing or taking part in fairs, parades, circuses, commercial moving pictures, theaters, mixed public bathing, regularly organized, contesting ball teams, dancing, card parties, gambling, and such like. (1968)
Though no longer Mennonite, I don’t dance either very much, though I balance myself on a ballet bar in my Pilates class (no tutu), which hardly counts as dancing! I’ve tried line dancing a few times and square dancing last summer with a caller in Montreat, NC. Waltzing looks like fun and so does ballroom dancing, maybe adventures to pursue in the new year!
In her book Mennonites Don’t Dance, Author Darcie Friesen Hossack devotes an entire chapter to the topic of dancing and offers a reason why Mennonites don’t dance in her collection of stories.
The Goodreads reviewer of her book praises her debut fiction
This vibrant collection of short fictions explores how families work, how they are torn apart, and, in spite of differences and struggles, brought back together. Darcie Friesen Hossack’s stories in Mennonite Don’t Dance offer an honest, detailed look into the experiences of children – both young and adult – and their parents and grandparents, exploring generational ties, sin, penance, and redemption.
Taking place primarily on the Canadian prairies, the families in these stories are confronted by the conflict between tradition and change. One story sees a daughter-in-law’s urban ideals push and pull again a mother’s simple, rural, ways. In another, a daughter raised in the Mennonite tradition tries to break free from her upbringing to escape to the city in search of a better life.
This month, I read and reviewed Darcie’s story collection. You can read my review of Darcie’s book here.
One of the pleasures of blogging is meeting other readers and writers of similar tastes, kindred spirits, actually. In December, writer friend Linda Hoye listed her top ten reads for 2018. Mennonites Don’t Dance was among them. Thank you, Linda for posting the list, which inspired this blog post.
What are you reading these days? Any book(s) to recommend?
Did you learn to dance as a child? Do you enjoy dancing now?