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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

3 Dance Dance De-Evolutions

There's no doubt that dancing changed my life. It was the singular vehicle responsible for transforming me from a shy wallflower to the gregarious extrovert that most of you know today. I’ve written many times about the joy and wonder of dance, suggested it as therapy for just about any manner of blues and waxed poetic on the dance club where I really learned what dancing was all about. But in keeping with their tradition of bastardizing, perverting and utterly destroying any institution they get a hold of, the latest generations are having a similar effect on my most beloved of pastimes. There are of course, notable exceptions. At its highest levels, dancing has actually become more athletic, more artful, and more amazing. Unfortunately, everyone else couldn’t be further from these talented artists. Today’s dancing is yesterday’s seizure, lewd gesture or assault. After nearly twenty years spent on dance floors of nearly every shape, size and style, I may not know what good dancing is, but I surely know what it’s not. Here are 3 of the very worst examples of bad dancing for the casual observer:

1. Drop it like it’s not. Ladies, when someone asks you (1) if you like to dance or (2) if you know how to dance, please understand - they are asking two very different questions. The biggest difference being, the correct answer (for the vast majority of you) to the first question is “yes” and to the second question, a resounding “no.” You being good at shaking your ass is not you being good at dancing, it’s just you being good at shaking your ass (and most likely deluded even about that). Dancing like a stripper - sans pole, Motley Crue music, acrylic heels, or getting paid for it - makes you look, at best, desperate, and at worst, like a whore. Trying to look sexy looks just like trying to do anything does (or in other words, not sexy). The key element is not looking like someone with a muscle condition while dancing is to be genuine, because there is no other activity where being affected is more obvious (or more difficult to watch). Trying to emulate moves you saw on a Britney Spears or Pussycat Dolls video is a solid guarantee you won’t look anything like either.

2. Doin’ the Hump. Gentlemen, sneaking up behind a girl and driving your pelvis into her backside is not an invitation to dance, it’s sexual battery. While this type of behavior may be o.k. in rap videos, Spring Break in Mexico, and the Real World - everywhere else it’s actionably criminal. And though this will likely come as a shock to anyone who regularly engages in the this type of behavior, you’re not a star musician, a party host in Cabo or on reality TV. I honestly can’t recall when this became a widely accepted method of asking a woman to dance, but I suspect it was right about the same time that young men starting trying to attract women by making their crappy cars louder (rather than making them less crappy). What’s more, on the off chance you have successfully achieved an invitation to dance with a woman, a clumsy imitation of your sexual technique is about as enjoyable to watch as two dogs going at it in an alley. Trust me, you have a better chance of getting lucky with a proposition on a hand-painted sign around your neck than you do with your epileptic air-humping.

3. Strictly Ridiculous. Listen, I think it’s great that you’ve got the time and dedication to have taken ballroom dance lessons, and even better if you’ve done it with your significant other and the two of you are able to waltz the night away. But please be clear that (1) not every dance floor is a ballroom and (2) ballroom dancing to music other than ballroom music is like wearing black tie attire everywhere you go; or in other words: it makes you look like an asshole. Bringing special dance shoes to a nightclub is the only thing lamer than bringing your pool cue in its own little suitcase. Dancing with the Stars is a hit because it’s ridiculous, not because it's awesome. Besides, watching you prance around like you accidentally sat on your plunger isn’t even fun to laugh at, because you’re not famous. There’s a reason that ballroom dancing competitions (that don’t involve celebrities) are hard to find on television: because no one wants to see them. Besides, the last time being good at that kind of dancing made you look better than everyone else, folks were wearing powdered wigs and tights. If you find, while looking around to see how impressed everyone is with your hand-placement or soft-shoes, people looking at you like you’re covered in a thin layer of feces, take a hint and save that crap for rest of the douche-bags in your dance class.

* * *

To be certain, this list could have been a whole lot longer. I just didn’t have space to mention flailers, bumpers, and mimes (just to name a few dance floor tragedies that I’m sure you’ll recognize). But for all the horrors I’ve seen on countless dance floors, both public and private, I’ve seen just as many amazing, hilarious and heartwarming things. And for all the times I’ve wanted to run from them screaming (or at least scratching my head), there’s still no place I’d rather be. And with all that time on the dance floor, I’ve learned a few inalienable truths: First, good dancing has a lot more to do with being yourself than it does with technique, skill, or fancy moves. Second, it’s almost impossible to overcome a lack of rhythm, but a good sense of humor is your best hope. And third, unless you’re dancing for money, relax - it’s supposed to fun, and no one worth worrying about really cares anyway.


Jen and Tonic said...

This is absolutely my favorite piece to date! So funny...

(1) I have a friend who believes dancing involved looking like a White Snake video groupie reject. She watched some hip hop workout video, and now she does the routine on the dance floor. I am NOT kidding.

(2) Oh man, I can't tell you how relieved I am to hear that there ARE men in the world who believe that dancing doesn't have to involve involuntary (almost) butt sex.

(3) I love it when people take salsa/fox trot/swing lessons, and then try to do the routine to Ying Yang Twins' "Get Low" which....doesn't work.

Ryan Marie said...

I completely agree about this!
I absolutely hate it when a random guy comes up to me on the dance floor and starts trying to grind on me. GROSS. On the off chance that you do ask me to dance during a hip hop song and I say yes, that means I want at least 2 feet between us. You dance your way, I'll dance my way and if you get too close I will give "the Look" to my girls and they will intervene! Haha.

Eric said...

You've got your answers backwards in the "Drop it Like It's Hot" section...pretty sure you mean that the answer to the first question is "no" and the second is "yes"...Ed.

Eric said...

By the way...the easiest cure for overcoming a complete lack of rhythm is a healthy dose of not giving a shit about it..:)

Glenn H. Truitt said...

@Tonic - You say that every week, and I love you for it :). You really need to get the friend from (1) on video. Seriously. You might be the next YouTube millionaire. And I'm SO glad to hear someone else understands my hatred for ballroom nerds that have escaped from their ballroom... Makes me just want to slap that look off their faces...

@Ryan - This is something I first noticed when I went back to grad school at age 30... I STILL don't get it; and yet, I still see it being used, and unbelievably, working. Sad.

@Eric - good catch... and good call!

Jimmy M said...

Don't forget pre-choreographed duo/group routines on the dance floor. That is ridiculous.

But hey I like ballroom dance! And no it's not all Waltz and Quickstep. A lot of them are thoroughly modern (invented after the 1950s).

Anonymous said...



Glenn H. Truitt said...

A big thank you goes out to the G EFF for giving me this idea!!

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