May 10, 2018
Lessons in Parenting: The Dance Test

Ahhh.... Prom season. I love seeing groups of semi-awkward, overly excited teens getting up-dos, piling into limos, and eating at oversized tables at Olive Garden. 

The dance test

With five daughters, my parents (read—my dad) were very strict. We had lots of rules, early curfews and we were only allowed to go out one night a weekend and never on Sundays. When it came to school dances, there were never any hotel room parties or sleepovers with friends after the dance. But first and most importantly, there was...the dance test.

the dance test

The dance test came into being when my dad was less than impressed with a dress one of us had picked out for a dance. He didn't see it until the night of, and let's just say, he was less than pleased. Henceforth, no daughter of Jim Ryan's went to a dance without passing the dance test first.  

the dance test

It went like this. If we were asked to a dance, we would immediately start looking for a dress. Then we would bring said dress home, put it on, and dance with our Dad. Usually around the living room while all our other siblings watched and jeered.  He would dip us and twirl us around and make sure the dress stayed in place and didn't go too far up or too far down.

The dance test

Several dresses were returned due to the strict rules of the dance test. 

As a teenager, I hated the dance test or at least pretended too. In all honesty, it always made me laugh. I knew as my dad dipped and twirled me, he was, in his own silly way, showing us much he loved us and would protect us from anything (especially teenage boys). I hope that my daughter will look back on the times when I have sent her back upstairs to change (cue eyes rolling) and realize that it was out of love. I have to admit that the dance test must have worked because I am a t-shirt and jeans type of girl.


Maggie Allen

Comment (2)

  • Katy Bank Johnson

    Hi Maggie!
    Oh Man- will we be doing this for our daughter. What a wonderful idea and tradition.
    Hope all is well!

  • Jean Ryan

    I can see your dad’s glint in his eye and hear his laughter as I read this! Love the dance test! I make Nan take the Alleluia test! If I think her skirt/dress is too short she has to raise her hands up and say Alleluia. It must be a Catholic thing!

Leave a comment


Sign up for our newsletter