The Happy Hora

Hubby and I, up on the chairs in 1995. Do you not love my shoes?

In 1995, when my husband and I married, I remember dancing to the hora. At some point, someone brought out two chairs. As the traditional music played, we sat down as friends and family members held the legs of our chairs and raised us gently into the air, turned us in circles, together, my new husband and me. I remember staring at my husband from my chair. Noticing his wedding ring glinting on his finger, how foreign it looked.

Over the last several years, I’ve been to a lot more bar and bat mitzvahs than weddings. I’ve danced the hora at least nineteen-hundred forty-six bazillion times. To the uninitiated, the hora is a dance where everybody forms a circle and holds hands. You are supposed to step forward toward the right with the left foot, then follow with the right foot. The left foot is then supposed to be brought back, followed by the right foot. In my experience, almost no one dares to do the crisscross thing with their legs because dance floors are generally jammed so everyone mostly just goes around in circles.

Tech in the air!

At bar and bat mitzvahs, it is customary to raise the honoree, and sometimes his or her family members, on a chair during the hora.

The last time I sat in the chair was nearly seventeen years ago, when my husband and I were married.

Let me tell you something: the wedding hora is different from the b’nai mitzvah hora.

First of all, by definition, there are waaaaay more kids at a bar mitzvah than there usually are at a wedding.

I don’t think any of our friends had kids when we married so our wedding hora was pretty sedate.

During certain parts of the hora at my son’s bar mitzvah, I felt like I was in a mosh pit. All those circles going in all those directions. And then all that going in and going out. I was digging our DJ’s version of Hava Nagillah and feeling pleased that I was managing to move so easily in my four-inch heels when some kid gave me a pretty good elbow to the chin.

Whatever.

I wasn’t going to let a blow to the face ruin my night. In fact, I barely felt it.

As the mother of an only child, I knew I needed to pay attention. After all, my husband and I recognized this would be our one chance to experience everything. I watched friends pull a cushioned chair onto the dance floor. Surrounded by cheering friends and family members, Tech went first and made it look easy. He laughed and smiled as the strongest men in the room bounced him around in a circle.

“Hold on, Mom!” Tech warned as we traded places.

Holy shizzlesticks.

I now understand why some friends had warned me before the fact:

I don’t know who was holding the legs of my chair but who put all the tall guys on one side and all the short guys on the other? I was positively crooked. At one point, I bounced so high off my seat, I thought I was going to have an emergency landing.

Listen, I have no fear of being lifted by people who are scampered. I just wasn’t prepared for the “let’s-try-to-eject-the-momma-from-the-chair” thing that was happening beneath me.

This video is every Jewish mother’s nightmare:

Someone snapped this picture and posted it on Facebook.

Waiting for the ride to be over.

Someone asked me: “What were you thinking about while you were up there?”

You wanna know know what I was thinking?

That I needed to keep my legs together like two tightly twisted vines.

Because there would be no “junk” showing at my son’s bar mitzvah.

Would I do it again?

In a heartbeat.

That night, I couldn’t stop smiling.

I am pretty sure I was radiating something close to pure joy.

All day, my son amazed me with his comport, his flexibility, and composure; I could have danced all night.

And once I got off that chair, I did.

What is the happiest dance you ever remember doing?

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29 responses to “The Happy Hora

  1. Had a great time dancing with you! What an awesome day!

  2. I am not a dancer. I was always afraid everyone was watching me. Unlike Steve Martin, in The Jerk, I never got the beat. But, I remember dancing the summer I met my wife and dancing at our wedding. Our first dance was to “Shout” by Otis Day and the Knights, when I close my eyes I go back to that moment…. sounds like you had a blast and it was a great party. Have a great day!

    • This is more like holding hands and moving in a slow, ungainly circle. I’m guessing you could handle that! ;-)

      But the chairs! The chairs! So scary!

      I love that you & your wife danced to Otis Day at your wedding! Fantastic!

  3. Going up on the chair was one of my favorite parts of my wedding. Loved it! When I am at an affair, I always rush into the circle to be part of the chair lifiting. I am not a big dancer and may not be on the floor much other than when it comes to the chair lift.

    • I am a big dancer (and Teri will tell you), but I can’t really lift the chair or anything. That said, I am always there smiling as folks go up up up! It is such a wonderful ritual, being supporter by your community!

      The poor woman in the video! They aren’t supposed to let you fall! Oy!

  4. First of all, love your tagline When life doesn’t fit in a file folder. ;) Awesome! My favorite dance is a wedding I attended this year. There was a lot of bad (but fun) dancing, line dancing (go junior high dance lessons!), and I caught my first bouquet. :D

    • Hi Kristy! I love that you caught the bouquet! Did you have to take anyone down to get it? Once someone tackled me to get a bouquet. I was like: “That’s it for me. Someday my prince will come, but I’m not going after anymore bouquets!” Too dangerous! ;-)

  5. You guys are so cute! And those legs – you gave new meaning to “twisted sister”. But you looked great!

    And you’re right, you can see the joy radiating out from inside you. And isn’t that wonderful?

    • I was totally twisted up! Did you see that video of the woman falling off her chair! Omigosh! Disaster!

      These are not professional photos. In fact, I can’t even figure out who took these to give that/those person/s credit; it was shared so much, I don’t know where it originated. But I’m glad it conveys the joy of the moment!

  6. They danced the hora and put me up in a chair at my wedding. The gesture filled me with love for my family and friends but I’ve never been so scared in my life. I’m not a big fan of heights or of sitting on surfaces that are bouncing up and down, and this had both. I was glad when the ride stopped and I could go back to thanking my guests for sharing the day with me. You, however, look great in your wedding picture and not scared at all. And Tech seems to have inherited his mother’s comfort with sitting on a chair that’s bouncing in the air. Mazel tov!

    • Mark, our wedding was sedate. Probably because our DJ sucked. But for the bar mitzvah, wow! I was freaking out! They almost dropped me! There is another photo where you can see my mouth is a big “O” and I’m crooked! That one is with the photographer. It won’t be in the album. Thanks for coming to visit! ;-)

  7. I have never been carried around in a chair for a dance. I’m not Jewish, so it’s completely reasonably that that’s never happened, but it’s still a hole in my life.

    • Byro: It is something you must do. Just go to a bar, toss a back a few vodka tonics and ask some friends and strangers to toss you about. You’ll get the idea in about 3 seconds. Unless you are on the floor in 1.7– like the lady in the video.

  8. Love love love that photo of you. This appears to be the epitome of who you are: Fun, Laughing… & Loving Life. Briliant.

  9. Pure joy. What a beautiful feeling!

  10. When I was a kid, my sister and I would do the Dance of Joy from “Perfect Strangers.” Pretty much the happiest dance from Friday night television in the early 90s, which, aside from being wildly specific, is also really awesome.

  11. You look so happy and joyous in the celebrative and festive affair

  12. This post is just so…joyous. I love you on that chair, radiating happy. Awesome.

    My favourite dance (so far) happened just today, in the grocery store. Some rockin’ 60′s music was being piped through the store and I laughed as my sons boogied down the aisles. Felt my heart stop when they both boogied back and each took one of my hands (thankfully, I’d put the basket down to pick something off a shelf) and twirled themselves around like ballerinas and then continued on.

  13. My very best friend got tossed off the chair during the hora at her wedding (made the woman in the youtube video look like she gracefully stepped off). After reading your post, “cross your legs” will be added to “hold on for dear life” as reminders for my family and friends before a hora :)

  14. Yes! Radiant! That is instantly the word that popped into mind when I saw the first picture from your wedding, and then throughout the post. The two pictures (wedding and Tech’s bar mitzvah) of you on the chair are such perfect mirrors of each other.

    I had to laugh when you said you were only thinking about crossing your legs like a vine. Because that IS exactly what goes through your mind in these moments. Not, “Wow this is a special moment that will make its way into my memoirs,” but, “I hope I don’t show my hoo-ha.” Yup.

  15. Seeing my two children get married.
    Seeing my grand son and son get Bar Mitzvah and my daughter Bat Mitzvah.
    Seeing my other grandson at his confirmation.
    Seeing me and hubby get married in my parents backyard.
    All joyful.

  16. You look fantastic in that picture!!

  17. Love it! I’d have been scared to death that I’d fall out and land with my skirt over my head. LOL :)

    I’ll never forget when my aunt got a little toasted at her sons wedding and did the bunny hop…on her rear. She literally bounced flat down on her butt. Ah, memories…

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