Tuesday, September 5, 2017


That much is true, and I have tried, Lord, I have tried. Indeed there have been times when I tried so hard, I thought I could, the joy and sweat both unbridled as the floor emptied about me. In fact, my dancing years can be contained within 3 succinct eras. But first the song:

This song, originally by Tom T. Hall, nails many of my feelings, even rationalisations, on the subject, and is written from the position of the lovelorn and forlorn dancehall wallflower, forever watching from the periphery, unable to get his girl on account his "affliction." Tom T. makes it matter of fact in his country boogie shuffle, but Gram imbues an extra poignancy and urgency into his cover, which, incidentally, is pegged up a pace or two, into a somewhat clumsy rhythm that is actually well nigh impossible to dance to. Even if you could.

So how did I deal with this, in phase 1, my youth? Luckily, it being the late 60s and early 70s, with the birth of the underground scene and prog, I could pin my flag to those genres. Sitting cross-legged, head bowed forward, shaking in, or slightly out of, time with the stop-start rhythms of Yes, King Crimson and E.L.P. warranted no knowledge of dancing. Dancing music: soul, r'n'b and disco, was for fools, whether they got the girl, and they usually did, or not.

Stage 2 was an awkward amalgam of conflicting pulls on my position. Punk arrived, and the demolition of all before it, including any orthodox styles of dance. And, yes, I could pogo, I discovered. And, with new wave, that slo-mo running beloved of, predominantly, Sting, came within my canon. But there was also the increased importance of Folk-Rock to me during these years, as I, simultaneously to the Clash and Costello, immersed myself deeper in all things trad.arr. I joined a Morris Dance side. There I had to discipline myself into the rigidity of 4/4 rhythmic movement. Like this:

It was hard, it was difficult, but I nailed it, albeit barely competently. It was bliss. Our side would convene once weekly for practice, and meet at weekends to give displays at school fairs and village fetes. Possibly as a result of this confidence, or probably the women I was taken with, I suddenly "got" the dance floor, hoovering up Motown and Stax into my record collection. I had the confidence of a dyspraxic Travolta and hurtled around equivalently. And for all the toes I trampled and ribs I barged, I apologise. Unreservedly.

For now, phase 3, I know I really can't dance. It is a pity, as my wife loves to and is an avid aficionado of electronica/dance. I love it too, but confine myself to listening in the car. As I drive. Occasionally thumping the windscreen repeatedly with my fist if particularly carried away. Just in case, at the age of 60 I have again joined a morris side, but I know I probably fool myself. And the moves are so much harder than they ever were.

A final reflection comes from proggers turned poppers, Genesis, originally just the sort of anti-dancing music I delighted in,  all those phase 1 years ago, latterly topping all sorts of charts with dance worthy tunes. Although I tell myself I shouldn't, I quite like this change in their style and fortunes, this song demonstrating that they too are not entirely unaware of the irony. So, like this song, maybe this dancing lark is my guilty pleasure.

But don't buy them, buy this

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