I'm not sure what it's all about (pun intended), but the hokey pokey is just about the most fun thing in the world with a class full of Japanese children.
The combination of watching the english teacher dancing/shaking it all about, and a japanese teacher who looks as though they are watching a train wreck of awkwardness is a type of magic that Japanese children absolutely love.
I did the hokey pokey with my classes today. I was a little worried that my over enthusiastic gestures would upset some of the teachers. Although they looked absolutely mortified in class, they raved about how great the class was afterwards.
Japanese students are very shy, and they are very cautious to not make mistakes. This is very counter productive in and language class, so I do put energy into showing the kids that it's ok to make mistakes, and that I under no circumstances will judge them. The hokey pokey is extremely effective because they feel like they couldn't possibly be judged by a person that dances like a trained monkey.
Awful, overly enthusiastic dancing is what I do. The most fun I ever had at a club was a night out with my sister, Kelly. I think club dancing is awkward and gross, and although I mastered the awkward part years ago, I have no interest in the gross. The dance floor was completely dead, apparently the sexual tension was not high enough. Kelly and I took the dance floor for ourselves, we did amazing moves like the lawnmower, the egyptian, and the scuba diver. Then, when all eyes were on us, we did our sister dance, .... the T-Rex. I'm not sure how to explain what the T-Rex is, but I'm fairly certain a real T-Rex would have more dignity on a dance floor then us. Their is a magic that happens when everyone in the room realizes they could not possibly embarrass themselves more then what they just saw. Dozens of people joined Kelly and I on the dance floor, and most of them tried their hands at moves like the bus driver, and the picture frame. We danced for hours, and had one of the most fun nights of our lives.