On an Unexpected Connection

Saturday is Dance Day and Down Syndrome Day – thus the perfect opportunity for a post about special people. After all, I imagine many may not see a link between ballroom dance and Down Syndrome.

I volunteer at a weekly dance event that is not only fun, but one with ample opportunities for smiles because it is for adults with Down Syndrome. Some of the attendees are functional enough to have a job, but others aren’t. Some a more coordinated and able to move better freely, but others physically struggle. Toss in a wide range of speaking abilities, it’s quite a gathering of about 30 attendees and numerous volunteers.

My smiles come from an action or something said. From a person running up to me for a dance to receiving a smile given by someone who has difficulty speaking. Simply put, the 45-minute session is a weekly delight in my life.

However, these events are not about the volunteers, but about the attendees. First of all, it’s a social event. They arrive with smiles and race to greet their friends they haven’t seen in a week. That is followed by the power of music and dance as it speaks to them just as it does to the rest of us.

Each week is the same. The 45-minute session starts and ends with the same song – the group’s theme song – a version of Over the Rainbow to which everyone dance a group routine. After a line dance or two, the instructor reviews the dance, and then a song plays for dancing. Another song for the same dance is the sign to change partners. The pattern stays the same through Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, Cha Cha, Tango, and Merengue – with the latter quickly morphing into a predictable conga line. After another line dance or two, the session ends with the same theme song that started it all.

I want to toast several of the attendees for the joys they give me.

  • To T, one of the better dancers, and one with an infectious smile and positive attitude
  • To K, whose quiet nature always answers question and giggles
  • To S, who is always smiling and laughing as she thinks I’m a bit crazy
  • To C, who best communicates to me through her eyes and smiles that make me melt on the spot
  • To J, who runs to me with a smile for a salsa or cha cha
  • To R, who insists on being a lady
  • To Teddy, one that I’ve written about here before, whose positive attitude about life is a role model for anyone
  • To the parents and caregivers for being supportive
  • To Mary, our leader (the blonde in the opening video), and the one who has made this happen

I close with a collection of clips for the competition held last October for these wonderful people. (Because you want to know, I’m in Foxtrot, Swing & Tango sections with contestants 35 & 54 – but I think that’s me in the center of the still)

Other Related Past Posts

71 thoughts on “On an Unexpected Connection

  1. Oh Frank! I am sitting here smiling and crying……. I had to watch ‘Over the Rainbow’ three times to get through it without missing bits for being so touched by the dancers. Everyone has music in them and for many of us it is expressed through dance. Dance is music made visible.

    What a wonderful initiative and I can really appreciate how great it must be for you to participate in. Keep it up won’t you. Lovely to get a little glimpse of you in action too – thank you for outing yourself 🙂


  2. Thank God for people like you, Frank. So heartwarming and lovely to see all you fine people coming together to share in your love of dance. It’s therapy for all involved. I loved the baseball player ..made me smile. All of it made me smile. Nice to see you, sir. Thank you for starting my day in such a kindhearted way.


    • Audra,
      Thank you … and that’s also on behalf of the 15-20 or so regular volunteers who attend. The baseball player is Teddy, and the past-post about him is linked at the end … he’s special and quite a local celebrity.


  3. UpChuck (see above ^) said it for (most likely) the whole lot of your nearest, dearest and closest friends and admirers…..Thank you, aFa, for starting my day, too, in such a kind hearted way. I’m buying the coffee this early morning…


  4. I saw the movie “The Homesman” this week. It is based on exactly the same theme that comes through loud and clear in your post: That you feel like you’re the one receiving the most benefit from the time you spend each Saturday with the Down Syndrome adults. And the movie also has a dance.


    • Catherine,
      That’s Teddy … he is a hoot … and everybody loves Teddy … and I did a entire post on him (linked at the end). He’s quite the story and an extra special person!


  5. Freeing and uplifting. Truly, this goes to dancing ones’ cares away -lesson learned. This has my spirit dancing into the weekend.


    • Calvin,
      Thanks for the kind words, and given the two celebrations for the day, I had to do this. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the celebration connection, so I had to get this post together very quickly.


    • Sylvia,
      It is a wonderful initiative and the program as grown from 4 people the first night to 30-35 attendees now. Unbelievable … and very supportive by the parents/caregivers. With your musical ability, BTW, I imagine you would be an easy dance student.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There are so many things these days that take a way our smiles. This one I will think about long and often and always with a smile. Thanks. And well done to you to be part of something this heartwarming.

    You look pretty much the way I imagined you, Frank!


  7. My uncle Richard had downs syndrome. He loved music and my nana bought him all kinds of musical instruments and a record player so that he could listen to, and play, music whenever he liked. He was born back when people with downs syndrome were tucked away discretely out of sight in homes and forgotten about. My grandfather refused to accept that his son would be considered as anything less than any of his other children and set about starting a school for children with downs syndrome in our hometown. Although my uncle never learned to talk, he was a much-valued member of our family and we learned many valuable lessons from uncle Richard. You get double kudos today from me Mr Frank. Not the sort of kudos that people hand out in “clapfulls” to “worthy citizens” who are doing their bit, but special kudos. I know how much what you are doing means to these attendees. You just went up a whole lot in my estimations Mr Frank 🙂


  8. What a most wonderful post, Frank! To be able to mix your love of dancing with such a “good deed” (for lack of a better word). Scratch that. To be able to share your love of dance with such a wonderful group is a most wonderful thing.
    Oh, and I’m in love with Teddy.


  9. Whew! Beautiful, Frank! Watched all 3 videos. I have a lump in my throat, a bursting chest and those annoying water pellets in my eyes, so I have to go, but I’ll be back!


  10. Awwe, Frank. I’m smiling ear to ear. What a beautiful post, it’s an honor to call you ‘friend’. You’re the cat’s meow!! XO
    PS…. I’m going to have to look into ballroom dancing, so much fun!


  11. Pingback: On Fall Break 2015 | A Frank Angle

  12. Pingback: Guest Post from aFrankAngle: On a Trip to the Ballroom | Happiness Between Tails

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