Tom and Rahm Do It—Who Else Has Dance Fever?

By: Gwendolyn Purdom

Tom DeLay isn’t alone. While the former House majority leader had a quick fall from grace on Dancing With the Stars—stress fractures in both feet caused him to drop out early—a lot of fancy footwork is going on in political circles (and not just in the health-care-bill negotiations).

President Obama, who danced onstage with Ellen DeGeneres to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love,” has a classically trained ballet dancer heading the White House staff: Rahm Emanuel studied dance throughout his Chicago childhood and was offered a scholarship with the Joffrey Ballet. We even hear that Emanuel worked with a private ballet instructor at a downtown DC studio in recent years.

In his years on Saturday Night Live, Minnesota senator Al Franken danced up a storm, including in a memorable sketch where he played Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.

GOP senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina helped his mother run a dance studio out of their house as a child and still loves doing his home state’s official dance—the Carolina shag.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton busted a move twice on an August trip to Africa, prompting husband Bill Clinton, at a Harlem event, to compliment her on her ability to “boogie.”

Fresh from her Supreme Court confirmation, Sonia Sotomayor cut a rug to celebrate Labor Day weekend at DC’s Irish Channel Pub. Then days after her investiture, in her first outing as a justice at the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts gala, she danced the mambo with actor Esai Morales (see photo on page 107).

According to Peter DiMuro, director of Dance/MetroDC, dancing and politics are a natural fit—even if DeLay’s cha-cha needs some work.

Says DiMuro: “You learn how to partner, to lead, to follow, to collaborate.”

This article first appeared in the November 2009 issue of The Washingtonian. For more articles from that issue, click here.

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