Life by Design: Dance with Me

The 21st annual Rye Neck School dance was held Friday night at Orienta Beach Club.

The words "school dance" can send people running from bad memories of their own botched youths, or the dreaded anticipation of


now being a grown-up who must decide if the school dance is a place where you have to act like one.

For the Rye Neck schools, they roll all the grades into one giant fundraiser which allows you to see everyone you know, regardless of whether they’ve got a kid in your kid’s class.  The PTSA president, Patty, told me it’s all about community, a function that also allows you to show the principal via your dance moves why your son Johnny can’t sit still in his seat.

I knew there was going to be trouble when the invitation arrived announcing: Rye Neck Disco Dance Party.     

I compared notes with a Rye mom whose middle school dance was themed Night on the Red Carpet, allowing people to be dignified in their cocktail dresses and tasteful hairstyles.

Hearing this I couldn’t help thinking of how in the old movies, where Grace Kelly wore couture to spy out windows and Cary Grant chased planes in a suit.  I still marvel at how young these people were and how middle aged they appeared in their mature grown-up style.

Not so with today’s stars like Adam Sandler who recently headlined a move called Grown Ups where he and Chris Rock, David Spade and a cast of forgettable best friends demonstrated their grown-upness by not acting like they were.  Their epiphany came in the end, when they could admit to each other that they were actually losers, oh really?  Except for Adam Sandler who must have insisted he be the successful, sensitive one.

The no-shame approach seemed the right tone for the Disco Dance.  No pretty dress; vintage blue jeans, platforms and sequined cami—gold chains in abundance.   And although there have been more times than not that I wish I were raising my family in my home town, the big people’s school dance would not be one of those times.  Knowing that I would have little resistance to do floor spins to Stayin’ Alive, I found a quiet solace in the fact that no one could say they were the exact same moves they had seen me make in the late 70’s.

Meanwhile, over the in the Mad Men part of town, my girlfriend was sipping silently to a string quartet in the basement of one of the stone churches.  Their dress-up party had frozen the parents into the role of what we thought grow-ups were supposed to act like when we were busy getting trashed at prom.

The husbands clustered together talking finance while the women talked about where they chauffeured their kids that day.  The endless loop of kid/money chatter can only be busted open by a very loud Billie Jean.  And anybody who doesn’t rush to the floor with the first mention of “She was more like a beauty queen from a movie scene,” needs to just go home.

Speaking of chauffeuring, rumor has it that at “Ballroom” in Larchmont, that rite of passage weekly pre-teen dance social, the carpool tells the tale. Are you with the cool mom? Sadly, Mamaroneck Avenue Elementary School, still, it seems, never “invited to the dance,” wouldn’t know.

Orienta Beach Club, one of the many shore clubs that has good reason to rent their space in the winter months, did a stupendous job with the food, eating being a top notch idea on one of these occasions.  The silent auction items were splayed out on tables all over the room making it easy to meander around and sign your name to items you don’t necessarily need.  Not having to pony up the cash on the spot always makes these drink inspired charities successful.  And they had the right size dance floor-just small enough to make it look like a lot of people were dancing and those that were, were kind of group-dancing, a very community thing to see.

At one point a circle formed that was initiated by the Mean Girls, aka, the girls that don’t really talk to you, and maybe for good reason.  It opened just wide enough for a solo dancer to plop themselves in the middle while the crowd howled to their unique style.  I resisted the circle as I have constantly tried to resist singing with the band and have only been successful at that about 50% of the time since my husband has become very insightful about when it’s time to get the hook.    

Now I wasn’t thinking of how late I had sent my money in, lamenting about how dull these things can be when everyone stands around as though it’s a parent-teacher conference with booze.  But it was a benefit, for the children.  How could you not go?  And if you’re going to go, well then.

When I entered the circle, pushed on my backside by friends, one with a video, I dropped to the ground, a full spin, popping back up to Thriller’s Beat It, down again, keeping my balance on the platforms with each Russian kick that went out, and finally spinning out of the circle to deafening applause.  More than one gal-pal noticed that my pants had split down the back, wide open, exposing my nude colored Spanx.

Laughing at yourself is one of the first signs of becoming mature; the only thing missing was Adam Sandler spinning onto the floor.

All this fun and approximately $50,000.00 raised for our children who might be shocked how grownups really behave.


Kim Berns is an interior designer and writer technically living in Rye.        

1 Comment

  1. Unintentionally bustin’ some moves encircled by a crowd? Splitting the seam of your haute couture for all to see? Walking shamelessly away from it all? I admire your chutzpah. You go girl! It was for the kids, in more ways than one.

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