Fairmont students and teachers reveal their favorite dance music and moves

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Photo: Emily Latham

Josh Oliver, an English teacher at Fairmont, busts his signature move: the Lawn Sprinkler.

When the music moves them, students and teachers like to boogie down and put on their dancin’ shoes. But what tunes inspire them to hit the dance floor and how they dance are usually worlds apart.

Hip-hop music seems to be the most popular genre for Fairmont students who enjoy dancing. Junior Adria Wenning says hip-hop songs are her favorite dance tunes because “they are easier to dance to,” but she also enjoys some slower music at school dances “to give a romantic feel.”

Among her favorite dance songs are Gas Pedal by Sage the Gemini and a few songs by Eminem. She also enjoys a song that immediately gets her to boogie down: Applause by Lady Gaga.

But Wenning admits that she also likes some older songs and even has a Dirty Dancing soundtrack that she dances to at home. “It’s just fun; it still has a really nice beat,” said Wenning.

As for what’s popular with her classmates and friends, Wenning said, “Everybody likes Lady Gaga or anything that has a good beat.”

Wenning said she likes to dance at home, where she practices and invents her own dance moves. “I make up my own moves mostly, but occasionally my friend Patrick Norman will teach me a new dance that he learned in Dance Club or I’ll Google something that I want to try.”

Wenning says she doesn’t have a favorite dance move, just a lot of inspiration moves, depending on how the music moves her. “They don’t have names; it just kind of happens,” she said.

Many students share their moves at school dances, but, like Wenning, they also enjoy playing the Wii game, “Just Dance.”

But does she think the game helps her with her dancing? “Not really. I mean they’re cool dance moves, but you can tell the dances are formulated,” said Wenning, who prefers to be a more freestyle dancer.

Junior Betsy Frias has a different experience with dancing because she’s involved in an amateur Latino dance performance group called Orgullo Mexicano. Her favorite dance songs at the Hispanic parties she attends are called Espanda and Bachata.

Frias said she doesn’t dance that much outside of the Orgullo Mexicano dance group, although her group tries to keep up with current dance moves. “We watch different dance groups on YouTube to see what new things they have,” she said.

She said the songs her dance group uses in its routines are usually from different regions of Mexico. Each dance the group incorporates into the routine is different; some are polka, some are similar to tap dancing and, in others, the girls wear dance costumes that match their Latino culture.

“Songs with a good bass” are the best for dancing, says senior Patrick Norman. Norman says he doesn’t really have a favorite song to dance to, but he enjoys dancing in general. “I will dance to whatever comes on, even if it’s ballet or something really lame or just hip-hop. I just dance to it,” said Norman.

Norman says he tries to keep up with current dance moves and even makes up some of his own moves. One of his favorite dance songs is Timber by Pitbull featuring Ke$ha. He owns all of the “Just Dance” Wii games and received the newest 2014 version for Christmas. “I love them, every single one of them; they’re so fantastic,” he said, adding that the games give him a lot of inspiration for his own dance moves.

East Unit English teacher Josh Oliver says he likes to both “fast dance” and slow dance. “With fast dance, it’s almost like exercise, whereas slow dancing is much more intimate and relaxing, so I like both,” he said.

Oliver laughed as he revealed that his favorite slow dance song when he was in school was Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. “It seems to have been the very last song they played at any dance, not that I wanted the dance to be over. But it was just a really long slow dance that also had fast bits included. As far as fast dances, there’s nothing that bears mention,” he said.

Oliver, 36, seemed to have a difficult time identifying the popular dances of his high school days. “I went to dances in the ‘80s and ‘90s, and I don’t know … moshing was gaining popularity in the ‘90s. They didn’t really like us to run in circles and run into each other, but we still tried.”

As with most high schools, Oliver said, there were students at his school who knew all the dance moves. “There was the lombada, which was the forbidden dance, except none of us knew how to do the lombada. We didn’t think to do the ‘hump snake’ that students do now, but we weren’t allowed to have sex on the dance floor, so we didn’t,” he said.

As for what song inspired Oliver to get up and dance, he said it had to be the Safety Dance by Men Without Hats … “and I’m sure there are others.”

His favorite dance move was called the “lawn sprinkler.” “There’s not a lot of good skill that I brought to dancing. There’s a lot of just cheesy disco ‘70s stuff,” he said. “I very much embrace the ‘cheese’ in my dance moves.”

Oliver said he mixed it up on the dance floor – whatever seemed right at the time. Oliver said dancers like him might do “sort of the hustle thing, then sometimes ‘deal the cards,’ and then you can do the ‘hitchhiker.’ If it was a faster song, then you do ‘lawnmower.’”

Culinary Tech teacher Kathy Rhoades, 63, offers a perspective that goes back a bit further. “Well, the first song or dance that we did was in seventh grade, and it was the Twist. I still love to Twist; nobody can do it like me.”

Rhoades said the Beatles were pretty popular when she was a freshman in high school. “All of the slow songs were popular, too, like The Shadow of Your Smile and Brown-Eyed Girl,” she said.

Rhoades said she and her peers went to Cotillion, which is a formal ball, and they did dances like the Monkey and the Mashed Potato. “We learned how to waltz and we dressed up, but my dad taught me how to waltz on the kitchen floor,” she said.

Rhoades adds that she likes country, and that she does line dancing now. “My son’s getting married, so I said, ‘Please put in a couple of line dances for me!’”

Honors Geometry teacher Katie Johnson, who graduated from high school in the early 2000s, says she enjoys both fast and slow dancing. “I remember dancing to a lot of Madonna,” she said. “The Cupid Shuffle, the Locomotive and the Twist were popular dances during my time, but I love wedding classics, like the Cha Cha Slide.”

Johnson adds that she really liked doing line dances, but in freshman year she went to Freshman Cotillion, where they learned how to waltz and square dance.

“In high school, there were a lot of break dance circles, and there would be dance-offs,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I had any particularly good dance moves. We all just had fun.”