By Sarah Griego Guz
Father-daughter dances take on more inclusive flavor.-
For some generations, the mention of a father-daughter dance may evoke memories of young girls in ruffled white socks dancing with Dad while under a shimmering disco ball affixed to the ceiling of the school gym.
Mention a father-daughter dance to most kids attending school on the coast, however, and you might get a shoulder shrug and a blank stare.
Even three years ago, father-daughter dances were considered a relic of the past. Father-daughter dances on the elementary school level did not exist.
One reason could be that the definition of family changed. For many girls, a father may be absent from the core unit, replaced by a mother, uncle, grandmother or someone else entirely.
At Sea Crest School, a handful of parents presented the idea of bringing back the father-daughter dance. Director of Lower School Michelle Giacotto had a suggestion.
“When I was first presented the idea of a father-daughter dance, my challenge was, let’s not make it a father-daughter dance, because that’s sort of limiting. So that’s how the dance turned to ‘sweetheart,’” she said. “That was what we were trying to do, to have the tradition of a father-daughter dance that many parents remember when they were kids, but make it more inclusive.”
What happened next was such a sweet thing that many of the other schools followed suit.
Over the past two weeks, El Granada, Hatch and Sea Crest schools have hosted sweetheart dances, with little girls coming to the dance with a chosen person they consider to be their sweetheart.
“My daughter June was really excited to go because all her friends were going. So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll take you,’” said Sea Crest parent Heidi Bennett, whose husband happened to be on a ski trip with their son. “It was really nice that there was a mix of families there to celebrate the girls.
“There were a few couples, a mother and a father, who brought a daughter,” she continued. “There were maybe a handful of moms who brought a daughter, and it was totally not a big deal.”
Business trips and other travel schedules prohibited some dads from joining the dance.
In those cases, moms sprang to the rescue, getting dolled up along with their daughters and enjoying a nice meal before hitting the dance floor.
“My daughter got to wear a little bit of lipstick and a little bit of sparkly eyeshadow,” laughed Bennett. “We did our hair and our fingernails and we went out to dinner first.”Many of the pint-sized dancers were amazed by the transformation of the Kohrs Family Center, which featured a photo booth as well as a treat table laden with a plethora of sweets.
The funky photo booth, complete with oversized neon glasses, hats and other accessories, was set up in a section of the building.
Fathers, daughters — and mothers — took time out from dancing to document the evening with a funny photo.
“I think it was really good and really fun,” said second-grade Sea Crest student Madeleine Willits who attended the dance with her father, Chris. “They had cookies, cupcakes, candy and you get to make your goodie bags.
“My favorite part,” she continued, “was taking pictures and dancing with my friends.”
Besides inclusion, another benefit is that the cost of the tickets goes directly to the school.