Tuesday, October 15, 2013

I'm in the wrong business

I recently went to one of my grandson's T-ball games, and as I was walking through the parking lot I noticed almost every car there had multiple window decals announcing their kid's participation in a dance studio, karate school, pee-wee football / baseball / soccer team, etc.

I remember years ago when my girls were small several went to a dance "academy".  Judging by all the car window decals I see today I'm guessing the phenomenon has grown even bigger.  And it's a great business, too, about as recession-proof as you can get.  Parents will eat Ramen noodles three meals a day in order to scrape together enough money to keep their kids enrolled.  But the tuition is just the tip of the iceberg.

Every little girl needs at least one dance outfit, and of course special shoes, and a monogrammed bag to carry it all in, and one of those car window decals for mom's minivan.  All these things and more can be ordered directly from the dance studio.  It was the original one-stop shopping.  *Cha-ching!*  

Then every 6-weeks or so you would get a note from the teacher that says your child (all of the class actually) has REAL talent and is being promoted from the Beginner's Level 4 class to Beginner's Level 3 class.  There were about 48 levels, best I could tell, each with their own distinctive outfit, bag, and window decal.  Also conveniently enclosed with the note was a new order form.

The payoff was the annual Christmas dance recital.  My kid's dance school rented the local 1,000-seat high school auditorium for both a Friday and a Saturday performance.  The lights would dim, the curtain would rise, and out would trot 15-20 kids....the "Tuesday, 5pm, Beginner Level 4 Class, aka The Dazzlers."  They would do their little kick / spin around / fall over / pick nose / curtsy, and the curtain would close.

Five minutes later the same thing all over again, this time the Thursday, 6pm Advanced Beginner Level 3 Class, aka the "Highsteppers."  Then the "Showoffs", followed by the "Lil Darlin's", then the....

It was funny watching the parents in the audience.  The mom's were always grinning and waving and taking pictures, while the dad's were sitting there doing mental math.  

You could just see their wheels turning:  "20 kids to a class @ $40 each, they're running through 10 classes an hour, 4 hours on Friday night, 8 hours on Saturday, plus all the tutu, gym bag, and decal income....and these are just the little kids.  Then there are the cheerleader classes....that's next weekend.  Holy crap!  I'm in the wrong business."

But of course we all did it because it made our kids happy, plus it kept peace in the family.  And give 'em credit, this is probably where most of today's world-class ballerinas got their start, not to mention more than a few pole dancers.  :)

Ahhh....the days.



  1. My niece is 2 and she's already in a dance class. I blame my sisters wanting to live out their ballerina fantasy vicariously.

  2. I remember them well. The recitals were murder. I did the mental math as well, only I was computing how much time before the show would be over and I could get the hell out.

    Thanks for reminding me of the misery. Well I guess it wasn't that bad...at least when my little princess was on stage!

  3. My wife took ballet classes as a child. Her dad should have demanded a refund.

  4. Oh how well I remember! I have videos of every recital. And in every one, Abby is too busy bossing the girls around her about how to do their parts, to being doing her own part correctly! Just different colored sequins, lol! And guess what her personality is like now? Just the same... she got it from her dad!

  5. I knew there was a reason I had three boys!

  6. LOL - you are so right! My niece is into competitive cheer (at least their competitions are more interesting than dance recitals). They enrolled her to use up some of her excess energy & now it's a full time job for her AND my sister-in-law.

  7. Plus, then Abby moved on to Cheerleading and was the flyer, because she was small, on a start up team. Before the first show, her base failed her, and she broke her wrist in the growth plate. Over. Done. Mom's had it. On to the Indianapolis Children's Choir.

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