Admit it, girls …
You’ve done it.
At least once.
Maybe once a day?
Don’t play coy with me.
I’m willing to bet a bushel of beets that you’ve succumbed to that toe-tappin’, arm-flappin’, booty-shakin’ boogie that can sweep even the most demure damsels into a frenzy.
I’m talking about the happy dance.
Yes, the happy dance. No special steps, no partner required. It’s just a spontaneous physical expression of joy. Gratitude in the raw. If you haven’t done it, you really ought to try it. Dancing takes happy and makes it happier. Farmgirls on my chatroom cluck about doing the happy dance when they receive random art in the mail from their mail art efforts.
I can think of only one thing that could make the happy dance better:
Making other people happy while you’re doing it.
That’s right—going public.
Kind of intimidating, right?
Doing the happy dance in private is one thing. Displaying it is another.
But don’t tell that to Erica McElrath.
The self-proclaimed “Happy Lady” of St. Louis, Missouri, makes her mark on a daily basis, singing and dancing on city street corners.
“I don’t want money,” she says. “I come out here to make people smile.”
Back in January of 2010, Erica lost her full-time job as a nursing assistant, but instead of mourning an empty glass, she got busy filling it up, sharing her gratitude by dancing.
With no schedule to maintain, Erica took to the streets. Dancing, that is. She wanted to spread the message that no matter how difficult our circumstances, we should all do something that makes us happy.
She actually started singing and dancing publicly on her days off a few years earlier in order to cope with the pain of a divorce. Her words of wisdom: “I was too happy for him.”
By devoting herself to happiness (her own and that of passersby), Erica has opened doors for herself. She is working again, and she has created a Facebook page where friends and fans can bask in her daily doses of optimism: That lady who dances on the southwest corner of grand and Choteau.
You can soak up a bit of Erica’s happy dance by watching this video, filmed by St. Louis photographer Mark Katzman: Happy Lady.
“Just be happy and do what you love,” Erica tells all who will listen. “The money will come.”