NOTE: Not sure if this ever ran in the paper, but it was written back when I was doing a bunch of dating advice pieces (and yes, I'm aware of the irony of taking said advice from me!)
We can dance if we want to
We can leave your friends behind
'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance
Well they're no friends of mine
For those of you too young to remember, the above song is the “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats – which, cheesy as it is, is still far better than anything performed by any of today’s Girls Without Talent. Plus it’s true…you can dance if you want to! The problem is, not all of us want to – but, as the song implies, not dancing can lead to social rejection and isolation. So what’s a non-dancer to do? I say if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em (even if you can’t feel the beat) because this disco-rimination has gone on long enough. It’s time to get over your fears and on to the dance floor. And don’t worry if you can’t dance, for I have learned it is far better to be a dancing weed than a pretty wallflower.
Growing up, I never wanted to dance – even today it still takes a little “encouragement” from my friends Sam Adams and Bud Weiser – but back then that wasn’t an option. And unfortunately for me, I came from a family of dancers, meaning I spent many a wedding alone at my table watching everyone else having a good time on the dance floor. Part of me wanted to join them, but the parts I needed (feet, hips, and rhythm) just weren’t interested. And to be honest, I thought they looked rather foolish flailing about out there. So I’d just sit around bored and embarrassed, praying no one would pressure me into dancing with them. Which of course they would, forcing me to feign an illness or injury as an excuse for why I wasn’t dancing. I became so good at this ruse that I would actually end up feeling sick by the end of the evening. It got to the point that I dreaded weddings and parties where I knew there’d be music and dancing.
It wasn’t until the advent of the video camera that I realized it was I who looked foolish, which is hard to believe when you consider what some regard as “dancing.” Take my brother for instance. He doesn’t dance so much as act out the songs being played. It’s as if he’s signing the lyrics for the deaf. But when we watched the video of my cousin’s wedding, no one commented on his moves, or those of anyone else gyrating on the dance floor. They were too busy pointing and laughing at me, often visible in the background pleading and protesting and pulling away from anyone pressuring me to dance. It was then that I realized it was better feeling like a fool while dancing than looking like a fool for not.
So I started dancing. Actually, my first attempts should be called stancing, because I mostly just stood on the dance floor while others danced around me – but at least I was out there. After a while I learned to shake with more than just nerves. Twenty years later and I’m still not a good dancer, but at least I have a good time. And so can you.
Chances are you’re dating a girl who likes to dance. They all do. It’s a gender thing. Girls tend to be much more enthusiastic and uninhibited when it comes to dancing. Guys, on other hand (and the two left feet), are probably a little more reserved and hesitant about it. Girls just don’t have the same hang-ups that we do about looking silly or awkward in public. This doesn’t make them good dancers…it just gives them the confidence not to care.
I’m guessing the only reason most guys go dancing is because that’s where their women are. And if they don’t do it, somebody else will. If you watch closely, you’ll see most men aren’t really even dancing, they’re actually acting as human shields, rotating around their dates to repel any unwelcome advances.
But I’m here to help you Dance, so here are a few tips to get you started. First, get over yourself. All eyes will not be on you. As far as your eyes, they should maintain contact with your partner’s as much as possible. The reason being, if her eyes are locked on yours she won’t notice any of the clumsy movements going on down below.
And with regard to said movements, keep them simple. In fact, many of your everyday motions can easily be modified into dance moves. Do lots of landscaping? Then imagine working with an invisible shovel or rake in your hand, add a few head bobs, alternate your “digging” from left to right, and you’re dancing! Data Entry? Work the hands and “type” to the beat. Policeman? Pretend you’re directing traffic at a four-way intersection. Basically anything from plunging toilets to changing light bulbs can look like dancing with the right attitude.
Finally, do not try to replicate or match her moves with your own – technically you are leading, and even if your “lead” consists of nothing more than standing stiffly and bobbing side to side like a drunken boxer, she will be able to work with it and make both of you look good.
And you’ll feel good. Once you get over the initial fear, dancing can be quite enjoyable, so have fun with it. Just be sure to stay clear of my brother if they’re playing “Kung Fu Fighting.”