February has long been cause for celebration in the Hamilton household, as both of our daughters were born during the month — five years and one day apart.
But seven years ago, we started a tradition that gives us another opportunity to celebrate, as our oldest daughter and I attended the inaugural Daddy Daughter Dance hosted by the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition.
Wearing her party dress and matching shoes, along with a corsage, that first dance gave us a good excuse to get all gussied up and go out on the town for some quality time together.
A lot has changed in those seven years. The event was hosted at a couple of local churches in its early years, but eventually it drew so many dads and daughters that now we’re raising the roof of a much larger venue at the Veterans Memorial Building in Grass Valley.
That seven-year span also saw our oldest joined by our youngest on Dad’s opposite arm, making me the proudest papa in the place — at least for a couple of years, before our teenager’s social calendar started taking precedence over another annual Electric Slide with her pops. Just sayin’.
But the biggest change, at least on the personal level, came this year when I realized, “Daddy needs a new suit.” In addition to being one of our family’s most anticipated events, the Daddy Daughter Dance also presents me with an annual measuring stick of how I’m doing on my New Year’s resolution to get back in shape.
The verdict four weeks in? Not so good.
So, in addition to getting decked out in some new duds with my darling daughter, I’ll also be looking forward to the best workout I’ve had in weeks as I attempt to keep up with the energy of our soon-to-be 10-year-old. Fortunately, this year, I guilted … er ... encouraged our new neighbor and his daughter to join us on the dance floor, with hopes our girls won’t mind as much when Dad needs to take a break. And considering how things went when I tried on my suit for size, those breaks are expected to be a bit more frequent this time around.
In addition to grabbing a Shirley Temple and some of the tasty finger foods on hand, we dads also dedicate our down time to buying raffle tickets for silent auction items — “Don’t worry, darlin’, we’ll win that bike yet!” — to support DVSAC, which celebrated its 35th anniversary last year.
The organization has served Nevada County in Northern California since 1978. According to its website, it first served as a community group — the Battered Women’s Alliance — and since 1980 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.
Initially known as the Domestic Violence Coalition, the website states that it was formed to offer crisis intervention and safehousing services to the victims of domestic violence and their families in Nevada County. Within a few years, DVSAC also began offering counseling and advocacy services to survivors of sexual assault.
“The Daddy Daughter Dance provides another opportunity for girls to learn what a healthy relationship may look like with the males in their lives,” DVSAC Executive Director Gayle Guest-Brown states on the website.
One of my favorite things about the Daddy Daughter Dance is watching all the Dads figure out a way to slow dance with pint-sized princesses, whether bending down low or lifting their girls off the ground.
It’s a pretty precious picture to see that little girl resting her head on her daddy’s shoulder as they slowly spin in circles to the sweet words of John Mayer’s “Daughters” or Bob Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses.”
And that really is what this event is all about — dad and daughter making memories together that will last a lifetime.
Of course, Dad, do realize that memory could also forever haunt your daughter’s dreams — just something to keep in mind when the deejay turns up the jams and you’re suddenly inspired to hit the floor, just as you did so many years before.
After all, the “Running Man” ain’t what it used to be.
Trust me, it’s not a sight they easily forget.
Brian Hamiton is editor at The Union. His column is published Wednesdays. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 530-477-4249.