You don't have to frequent nightclubs or party into the early hours just to get your groove on. We have an essay now from author and father of three, Alan Heathcock, about why he's made dancing a family tradition.

ALAN HEATHCOCK, BYLINE: My wife suggested we have a dance floor installed in our family room. And behind her, our three kids took turns showing off their moves as Michael Jackson's "PYT" blared over the speakers.

I remember being a teen and my friends thinking it was odd that my father had dubbed Friday night "culture night" in our house. He'd play records and have us dance. I remember one night he was playing an old Wilson Pickett record and I tried out some new break dance moves, spinning around on my back, grabbing myself in precarious places. My father had looked confused, but said, not bad, kid. Now, step aside and let your pop show you a thing or two. Then he did this little James Brown imitation, sliding to one side while dragging a foot. I wanted that move. I stood beside my father and followed his footsteps.

So many things were affirmed on those Friday nights. We danced to everything from Jerry Lee Lewis to Lightnin' Hopkins, the Bobby Allen Band to Marvin Gaye. My brother and I laughed while we practiced our moves, imagining what we'd unveil at the next school dance. My mother and father waltzed around the room, smiling, and I knew it was love I was watching.

I fell in love with my wife dancing, kissed her for the first time on a dance floor. My daughters, who are 12 and five, spend hours working out little routines to Katy Perry songs. I watch them bounce about the room, hitting poses in unison without the slightest edge of self-consciousness. I tell my son, who's now 15 and worried about looking foolish, that the only foolishness is going to a dance and not dancing at all.

We have become a world of wallflowers. The only escape is to dance, to feel music in your blood, to have your heart alive and your body free. My wife wasn't serious about getting a dance floor installed, but I'm starting to like the idea. I think we could all use a little room to groove.


JACKSON FIVE: (Singing) Dancing, dancing, dancing. She's a dancing machine.

SIEGEL: Alan Heathcock is the author of "Volt."


FIVE: (Singing) Do it baby. Dancing, dancing, dancing. She's a dancing machine. Oh, baby. Move it, baby. She's a dancing, dancing, dancing machine.

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