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Get Your Groove On with a Superstar Dance Party

Photo by Cameron Whitman / Stocksy United / 717271
Photo by Cameron Whitman/Stocksy United

By Anna Sachse 

My house has seen some epic family dance parties. Born from rainy-day boredom and, admittedly, my desire to whittle away some baby weight, it quickly became clear that our boogie fests were here to stay.  I highly recommend them.

This is generally what dance parties look like for us: The 4-year-old strips down to her Wonder Woman underwear, dons a crown and butterfly wings, and begins a routine that resembles a mashup of ballet, krumping, and parkour.

The 2-year-old demands a cape and then runs around the table in circles, squealing. I am in sweatpants and glasses, often un-showered, shaking it like a Polaroid picture, laughing, and far more energized than I was five minutes prior.

Here are a few of my insider tips:

Be Ready to Sweat!

While pure joy is plenty reason to drop it like it’s hot, dancing is also good for both children and adults. Kids learn that exercise is fun while gaining coordination, balance, strength, and endurance.

Moms and dads can burn approximately 240 to 500 calories per hour while increasing flexibility and lean muscle mass. At times I’ve also incorporated dumbbells, lunges, and plyometrics in the mix for myself—or surreptitiously put away the tsunami of toys in our basement while bopping about.

Let the Music Move You!

When it comes to the playlist, Spotify and Pandora can dictate your tunes, or search for favorites like Kidz BopThey Might Be GiantsRecess MonkeyDan Zanesthe Laurie Berkner Band, or movie soundtracks.

Also feel free to blast whatever gets you grooving. To my husband’s dismay (and my immense delight), my daughters love up-tempo club “hits”—we’re talking the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling,” Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for a Hero,” Haddaway’s “What is Love” (yes, really), and “Jump” by Kriss Kross.

Some of my friends’ kids are fans of “Uptown Funk,” “Shake it Off,” and “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” while a teacher pal says her 60 East Harlem first graders are partial to Timber’s “Just Dance 2014.” Hey—all that matters is that you’re doing it.

Get Your Group On!

Free dance is fabulous, but sometimes it’s nice to include a little structure. We love:

  • The hokey-pokey. You can find plenty of versions online, like this one (which comes with a playlist), or simply sing it yourselves and let each person take a turn naming body parts. Buns are always the favorite.
  • Freeze dance. Everyone shimmies and shakes until the music stops or someone yells “Freeze!” YouTube has a surprisingly large collection of official freeze dance songs, which vary from a little annoying to very annoying—here’s an example. But they get the job done. Another option is to start on stop your own music using a smart phone or dance with no music at all.
  • Take turns at follow the leader—e.g., “Everyone flap around like a butterfly! Now shake your tail feathers!”
  • Create awesome challenges, like racing across the room while leaping Flashdance-style, navigating an obstacle course of toys on the floor, or spinning until you fall down.

Prop It Up!

There’s really no such thing as a bad prop—well, except maybe food or liquids. Kids love watching the ways scarves or ribbons (perhaps leftover from holidays or birthdays?) flutter and fall as they move around the room and toss them in the air.

Dancing with a favorite doll, stuffed animal, or plastic dinosaur is also a great inspiration for tripping the light fantastic. Capes, wings, magic wands, hats, hula hoops, instruments—you name it. You can even plan ahead and dole out glow sticks so you can cut a rug in the dark!

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