Life as Paraplegic: Dancing The Git Up Dance Challenge

My husband Arthur and I used to dance together. We waltzed and cha-cha-ed and twisted the night away. We attended Victorian balls and New Year’s Eve dances. In a fellowship that we belong to, Arthur and I planned several dances – a 60’s hippie theme, a Oscars red carpet theme. We were Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. (Well, not that good! But we dressed like them on Oscars night!)

Ballroom Dancing
60’s hippie dance

A motorcycle accident in June, 2015 left my husband a T-11 complete paraplegic. It took more than a year for him to recover. When we resumed our lives, I embarked on discovering how to do some of the fun things we used to do.

It was incumbent on me to find new ways for us to dance. I searched for a teacher or class that taught wheelchair dancing, but found none in our area.

One Friday night, a friend invited us to listen to a band. As the music played, couples flowed onto the floor. Going out on the dance floor with someone in a wheelchair felt awkward. I was shy about it; everyone would stare! On small dance floors, his chair took up a good deal of floor space. He was as uncomfortable as I was.

Then my friend pulled Arthur onto the dance floor. He began moving his body, his arms, his shoulders. Soon, he was enjoying himself, relaxing a little bit. I joined him on the floor. It was our first time out dancing since the accident. When I slow song came in, we weren’t sure what to do. How do you slow dance with someone in a wheelchair? We did a few spins, then left the floor.

After that, it became easier. We have not tackled ballroom dancing yet, but we’ve danced at weddings and birthday parties.

And each time, people cheer my husband on.

We have gotten more comfortable going out on the dance floor. This past New Year’s Eve we went dancing again with friends.

Since the lock-down from Covid-19, we have plenty of time on our hands! I found a few dances on youtube and thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves to learn a dance and adapt it to a wheelchair. After seeing this fun song, we chose The Git Up Dance Challenge.

We practiced for several weeks, whenever Arthur felt up to it. Some days, he lacks the energy to do more than take care of his personal needs. We practiced several times a week, usually 3 or 4 takes at a time. We took rehearsal slow, learning the dance and trying to have fun while doing it! When we knew it as well as we could, we taped our dance.

Here’s our version, which we hope will inspire both caregivers and wheelchair users to get out and have fun dancing!

We hope you enjoy it! Have you found ways to dance in a wheelchair? We’d love to hear about it!

Angela DiCicco

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