Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | January 17, 2013

Hosting the Social Dance

So I posted on Facebook awhile ago that I would be a host at Zachary’s social dance class. As host, it’s my job to actually WATCH the class instead of curling up into the couch and reading my magazine or playing Words with Friends. I also have to DRESS UP instead of wearing jeans and a sweater, and my sneakers. But mainly, my job is to greet the children (so formal!) in the beginning and say goodbye at the end, complete with handshakes.

My Facebook friends had all kinds of good ideas of how I could greet the children. Like putting a hand buzzer in my hand, or even better, planting Zack’s fart machine in my pocket and triggering it at various points. It was tempting!

I’ll have you know that Dori has threatened me with certain death and old age in a subpar nursing home if I volunteered to host at her class. I take her threats seriously. Zachary, my sweet, darling angel who loves his mommy, still isn’t totally embarrassed by me, and he begged me to volunteer.

So I did my turn. There’s me, below (much taller than the other host), greeting some of the kids (why we had to stand back to back, I don’t know  – that fart machine would have come in handy).


The scenario given by the instructor: I was hosting a party, and the boy was allowed to bring a guest (a “plus one”). He had to walk up arm in arm with his gal and say, “Hello Mrs. Kaplan, my name is (Insert Name) and this is my guest (Her Name). He was to shake my hand and then she was to shake my hand, and say “Thank you for inviting me.” I know, it’s a lot to remember when you’re 9. Especially that Mrs. Kaplan part.

Here’s how it went:

Boy: (Shaking my hand for a good 2 minutes) – Hello Mrs. uh, uh, uh

Me: Kaplan

Boy: Mrs. Kaplan. (mumbling in a voice I can barely hear) My name is (mumble mumble) and this is my guest (turns to her with a quizzical look) – (mumbles name).

Me: (I make sure he stops shaking my hand and turn to the girl, to shake her hand)

Girl: (mumble mumble while looking down) Thank you for inviting me to the party.

Instructor to the boy: You need to look in the eye! Let’s try it again!

It was a little awkward, but I felt for these kids.


They had fun dancing and doing their various social games – while I sat, knees together, in rapt attention. In the class, the kids learn some conversational skills, like how to make small talk with others. Questions like, “did you get a gift for holidays?” This was followed  up with a group discussion of how to respond to said gift, which might be from your grandmother. It took 5 kids to come up with “call and say thanks,” and another few responses before someone came up with the idea to “send a thank you note.” Unfortunately that answer did not come from my son, who graced everyone with one of his smart-alec comments.


The kids were then asked what to do if you get a gift you DON’T like, as in a really awful sweater you’d never wear. And the answers were equally inappropriate. (Correct answer: say thank you, you could really use another sweater.)

And then it was time for me to say goodbye to the children. This time they had to say “Goodbye Mrs. Kaplan, thank you for the party.” This time the other host and I were side by side. And some of the kids called me by the other mom’s name. Don’t worry, I went with it. These kids still have a long way to go socially. But they were adorable.


  1. This is SUCH an East Coast thing! Shane got invited to attend similar classes. I didn’t send him after the look he gave me (and probably my CA attitude kicked in a bit too). I hope they had fun! And it’s sweet Zack wanted you there 🙂

    • I’m not looking forward to the day he realizes how awful and embarrassing I am. The company that runs this is East Coast, but I went to a similar program growing up in Phoenix! I don’t remember talking about manners, but it was a white gloves/dress up and learn how to fox trot thing.

  2. Many of my elementary school classmates in San Diego did such a thing, but I did not. Oh, the inadequacies of my uncultivated existence. P.S. Thanks for the “heads up” on the unwanted gift advice. Thank you for the party, Mrs. Kaplan.

  3. Such fun! The kids look darling.

  4. Excellent. Would love to hear more about the responses to Granny’s sweater. I’m sure one step below the fart machine for sure.

  5. Debbie, I find it funny that the program you attended involved wearing white gloves. Back in the 1950s, long before Vassar College got rid of dorm dining and built the dining hall- affectionately called ACDC for “all campus dining center”- Jane Fonda, who refused to dress up for dinner, was told that all they wanted from her was to come to dinner wearing white gloves. So, she came to dinner wearing nothing but white gloves.

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