I got an email today. All it said: “I trust this in your hands,” followed by a link. In this age of hacks and leaks, I couldn’t help but be a little on edge by this prompt.
It was a YouTube link. I watched it for five seconds, immediately minimized it, and looked around to make sure no one had seen what I had seen. I went outside and, on my phone, emailed back this man we’ll call “Aaron.”
It’d been months since I’d gotten a lead on something this big. Rarely do I get to actually break a story, so time was of the essence. A few minutes later, “Aaron” responded.
Friend from Mississippi showed me on Sunday…
And then he was gone.
I went back inside, took my computer into an empty conference room, and shut the door. And then restarted the link. The first images.
Following those photos, this text:
As a baby, you wiggled…….
As a toddler, you rocked…….
As a teenager, you threw DOWN………
WHO WAS THAT AT THE END? WHO THE HELL WAS THAT?
I quickly learned that it’s Bob Thomas, host of Grown Folks Dancing. And then I dug. I dug so deep, in fact, that I found a website titled grownfolksdancing.com. You should probably click on that right now. Immediately.
What I learned, after getting past the Flash intro looping explosion, is that Grown Folks Dancing is a public access show, airing at 12:30 p.m. Saturday nights in various parts of Virginia and North Carolina. They tape the show every third Sunday at a venue called the Comfort Zone in Hampton, Virginia. Their most recently uploaded video was from the third Sunday in November. As in, this is happening in real time. Grown Folks Dancing is not the past. Grown Folks Dancing is right now.
That most recent video is the video “Aaron” alerted me to. This is the footage from that third Sunday evening in November.
Are you ready? Because I’m ready. And so is Bob Thomas.
What you first learn in the opening moments of the raw Grown Folks Dancing footage is the layout of Comfort Zone in Hampton, Virginia. It’s a dance floor with a column in the middle. The Grown Folks orbit this column as they do the appropriate line dance to each song. The first song in this clip is “New Wobble.”
Not everyone has to participate in each dance, as you can see from the posse of Grown Folks on the sidelines. Also, there appears to be a snack bar of some kind.
Watching Grown Folks dance on Grown Folks Dancing reminds me of many a wedding, with one major difference. Grown Folks Dancing doesn’t really seem to be an event where you smile.
People seem to be enjoying themselves, no doubt. But it appears to be a very serious event. There’s not much mid-dance conversing happening on the dance floor of the Comfort Zone.
It’s unclear when all of these dances were learned, but you get the feeling some of the Grown Folks on the floor are instructors of some kind. Grown Folks from whom other Grown Folks can pick up moves. So that stood out.
Also worth noting: Grown Folks Dancing is basically a roller skating party without the roller skates.
The longer I watch, the more I begin to wonder how my mom and all her friends keep learning all the newest line dances. And whether or not, if I keep watching Grown Folks Dancing, she’s going to pop up.
She’s definitely going to pop up.
One thing I really love about Grown Folks Dancing is that everyone is welcome, as long as you are a Grown Folk. It’s absolutely beautiful. Just look at this Grown Folks sequence, danced to a Grown Folks remix of Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.”
LOOK AT HOW PURPLE SHIRT POPS IN, TOWEL IN HAND, IN FULL GROWN FOLK MODE.
LOOK AT HOW SHINY ORANGE SHIRT GROWN FOLK BECOMES SHINY BLUE SHIRT GROWN FOLK
Unconfirmed, but Grown Folks Dancing might just be the reunion of the first high school to integrate in Virginia. Again, unconfirmed, but just something to think about.
The more you watch Grown Folks Dancing, the more you wish you were there with them. There’s no FOMO quite like GFDFOMO. Whether it’s a new song, an old song, or a completely made-up song, the Grown Folk fun makes you want to transport to the Comfort Zone, wearing your basketball jersey over a turtleneck, pleated pants, and a Kangol to dance the night away, while never smiling or speaking to anyone.
I’ve said too much. Luckily for all of us, who needs words when there are SO MANY MORE Grown Folks Dancing videos online to watch immediately? If you’re looking for a place to start, let me recommend “GFD DEMO” or “GFD 1094.” Or, of course, GFD Show No. 1078.
In this chaotic year, thank you, Grown Folks Dancing, for reminding us what it means to have fun, to be Grown Folks, and to do what it do.