Marybelle Alston may live in Florida now, but this former longtime resident of Wayne and her family never stopped being proud citizens of the Eagle Nation.
This week Alston, 88, also officially became a citizen of Rhythm Nation, after a video of her dancing to Janet Jackson’s “All For You” in a pair of Eagles sweatpants went viral, attracting fans. attention from Jackson and over a million others who have now seen Alston’s incredible moves.
Of the thousands of comments the video received, there were dozens saying, “This made me smile”, “This made my day”, “This will be me at 88”, and “Go Birds”. .
Danita Alston, 53, said she didn’t expect the response the video would receive when she posted it to Twitter on Saturday, tagged Jackson there and wrote, “@JanetJackson in an effort to make my 88 year old mom tired and ready for bed, she dances to your song. Good luck to myself.”
“I just thought it would be fun to post it, I never imagined it would get to this point,” Alston said. “And I never thought Janet Jackson would respond.”
But Jackson responded when she retweeted the video of Marybelle Alston dancing and wrote, “Love it.”
” I could not believe it. I was jumping up and down,” Danita Alston said. “I pointed to my mom and she put her hands over her mouth and said, ‘Oh my God, she really answered!'”
Originally from Henderson, North Carolina, Marybelle Alston and her husband, Virgil James, who died in 1996, moved to Wayne when they were in their twenties, raising their family of seven children there for nearly 50 years.
Danita Alston said her parents were still “the life of the party”.
“We would all get together in different houses on the weekends and it would just be a dance party. As far back as I can remember, she danced,” Alston said of her mother. ” It was great. I’ve always filmed it, never shared it as much as I’d like, but I will now.
Marybelle and Danita Alston moved to Riverview, Florida four years ago so Marybelle could be close to her youngest son and youngest grandchildren, who live in the area. But the two still go back to their Philly-area roots, watching every Sixers, Eagles and Phillies game in matching team gear with Danita’s dog, a shih tzu named Eagle.
Eagles fans who watched Alston’s viral video couldn’t help but notice the decor in the room she filmed it in, including two Eagles rugs, two Eagles soccer balls, a ” Fly Eagles Fly”, an Eagles coaster and a framed Eagles print. Off-camera in that same room, Alston said, there’s also an Eagles loveseat and an Eagles sofa.
“So this is my wife cave, you might say,” Danita Alston said.
Danita Alston said that after her mother was recently diagnosed with dementia, she began to notice how music was affecting her well-being.
“Every time I put music on, especially upbeat music, his whole mood changes,” Alston said. “If there’s music and it’s upbeat, it’s going to move somehow.”
Thus, every evening, before dinner and before going to bed, Danita Alston plays music and her mother dances. It could be James Brown or Janet Jackson, but in those few moments, even though the rest of the day was difficult, they find joy in each other and joy in being alive.
And that’s also what Danita Alston hopes others will take away from her video.
“The world is a little crazy right now, so I just wanted to bring some joy into everyone’s homes,” she said. “The video is only a minute long, but that minute, I’m sure, made a lot of people smile. And that was my goal.”