The Amish are an ethnoreligious group that is known for its refusal of modern luxury, convenience, and technology.
But that explanation doesn’t give a great idea about what the Amish can and can’t do, specifically.
For example: Do the Amish dance?
The short answer is no.
Still, there’s a reason and a history behind it.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the short answer to our question and then a deeper dive into the reasons why that answer exists.
Do the Amish Dance? No.
It’s a fact that the Amish don’t engage in any form of dance. This is dramatically different from almost every other culture and subculture in the world that observes some method of music-making and dancing, whether it’s on a ritualistic or recreational level.
But the Amish strictly do not dance. In fact, they don’t even play musical instruments to produce the music to dance.
The Amish only sing, and almost all of their songs are religious hymns.
(There are a handful of others that are more similar to folk or work songs, but those are for another blog.)
In fact, the Amish are reputed to be non-dancers in a lot of circles that know them. There’s a joke among those familiar with the Pennsylvania Amish that goes like this:
The joke works on two major levels. First, the Amish notoriously have huge families with many children, so obviously sex is a common part of the Amish life (even if it’s primary purpose is reproduction instead of pleasure or bonding).
Second, the joke points out the absurdity that the Amish will engage in sex to an extreme degree while completely avoiding dancing, which is comparatively innocent.
So this begs the question: Why don’t the Amish dance?
Why Don’t the Amish Dance?
There are a few reasons why the Amish don’t dance. They all come back to Amish religious beliefs, just like many other parts of an Amish person’s day-to-day life.
1. Dancing Could Yield Pride
The first and most commonly-given reason that the Amish forbid dancing comes back to the concept of pride.
The Amish are a hardline humble people to the point that others may consider them a cult. This sense of humility and being “in the world, but not of the world” is a major motivator behind their belief in soulful purity and following biblical law.
As a result, they craft their lives around the concept of humility and hard work. This is why they shun many of life’s modern conveniences.
It’s also a reason that they don’t dance.
For the Amish, dancing can call attention to someone individually. It’s not necessarily a way that they can express themselves, but a method by which they can win the attention and possible affections of others through displays of self-indulgence.
This means dancing is an inherently proud activity by Amish reasoning, and it’s avoided for that reason.
But pride isn’t the only reason that an Amish person may avoid dancing.
2. Dancing Is Considered Sexual
Sexuality is the next major reason why the Amish don’t dance.
While some styles of dance could be predicated around sexuality, others are not. Still, the Amish often view the movements and activities associated with dancing as sexual.
Sex is about as taboo as you can get from an Amish viewpoint (if two people aren’t married), so any activity that could be viewed as inciting sex is culturally incompatible with the Amish way of life.
From the Amish viewpoint, sex is something to be done for the purposes of procreation between one man and one woman who have been married for life — no exceptions.
This also makes Amish have a hardline (and sometimes aggressive) stance against homosexuality, most pre-marital shows of affection, masturbation, and other sexual, semi-sexual, or romantic activities.
Hence the joke.
3. The Amish Don’t Play Music
While the Amish certainly sing in religious, folk, and work contexts, there aren’t any banjos, guitars, hammered dulcimers, washboards, drums, fiddles, or other instruments that are actively practiced and performed.
So while the Amish don’t dance for a variety of reasons, they also don’t play the music that’s required to dance anyway.
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