Dads, daughters saddle up to dance night away in Iwakuni
A night of flannel shirts and cowgirl boots brought fathers and daughters together to celebrate their love during the Boots ‘n Belles Daddy-Daughter Dance at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Jan. 13, 2018.
They spent three hours stepping and swinging to popular dance songs, taking photos together, playing games and – most important of all – holding each other close in what’s becoming an Iwakuni tradition, and it is a chance for service members to share a night with their little girls.
“I think it’s important for dads and daughters to be able to spend some extra time with each other,” said Joanna Gilbert, the daddy-daughter dance coordinator. “This is a very casual time, and it’s focused on the daddies and daughters. There are no other distractions. There’s nothing else to do but dance and have a good time, and I think it’s very important for them to have that bond because their dads are gone a lot. They don’t always have the opportunity to have something like this.”
The event featured everything from the days of the cowboys and gunslingers. Wooden horses, pigs in a blanket, people walking around wearing sheriff badges and bandanas, and even a lasso competition, which pit four fathers against each other vying for their little girls’ honor, were highlighted at this Old West get down.
“Every year we try to do something that’s with the theme of the dance,” said Gilbert. “We did a hula-hoop contest with the 1950s, a fashion show with our Paris theme and this year was our lasso contest. We’re always trying to do something a little different to keep the dads engaged and give them something extra to do. A lot of dads can’t handle three full hours of dancing so it gives them a little break.”
There was also a game of musical chairs, raffle-prizes given away and a photo studio filled with props and cutouts that gave the dads and daughters something to always remember the night by.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Paul Penn, executive officer of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, said it was his first daddy-daughter dance at MCAS Iwakuni, and he and his daughter had a wonderful time.
“It was a great event,” said Penn. “I got to spend time with my daughter. We danced a lot and had a good time. It was a good night for us.”
Emily Kowalski, one of the daughters who attended, said she also had a great time. She said her favorite thing about the night was dancing with her daddy.
Overall, those service members who attended took the chance to share a fun and relaxing night dancing close with their cowgirls’, no matter how old their little girls may have been.
Gilbert said she was very proud with the event and was excited that she, and those who worked alongside her to bring the night together, were able to provide those busy fathers and their daughters with a good time.
“I think the night went extremely well,” said Gilbert. “We just want to make sure we have the opportunity for all the dads and daughters to come and spend this time together. We had so many volunteers come help us set up and put it all together, and our DJ was amazing. It really looked like the dads and daughters had a good time. I hope everybody comes out next year.”