The Dance of Life

by Vicki Nunn

Many years ago I began dating a man that I’d met through friends at a nightclub. We’d been going out for a while, but had never actually danced together.

When we finally got up on the dance floor one night, I wanted to laugh out loud at his silly antics. “What a clown!” I thought, “He’s certainly got the wackiest sense of humour.”

After two minutes, it became evident that he was in fact being quite serious… and I was left stunned by the shear uncontrolled mayhem of his dance movements. My boyfriend’s dancing was so atrocious that he was in danger of seriously maiming people within three metres of himself.

I blushed with shame and humiliation… How could I face people once they knew I was dating someone who danced like a spastic chicken? (One gets upset over such important issues when one is young.)

I never did go dancing with him again, and despite his complete and utter lack of grace and anything remotely resembling a dancing ability, we still dated for almost two years.

Dancing is a funny thing isn’t it? We each have our own ideas about what are acceptable dancing styles and what are not, especially when it comes to our parents. It doesn’t matter how talented our parents are (even if they’re operators of a dancing school) when we’re in our teens, anything our parents do, especially dancing, is always going to cause us complete and utter humiliation.

Is it just me, or did everyone else grow up with at least one other relative who enjoyed embarrassing us with their outlandish dancing style when we were out in public or at parties? Or was that just lucky me?

When it comes to more mature people, we know that they’re older simply by their dancing styles. That idea got me thinking: could our walking style also suggest something about dancing?

Most of us at some time have found ourselves in that situation when we’re walking towards someone and then comes that moment when we almost bump into the other – we each try to move out of the way of the other person, but sometimes begin moving in the same direction, and  end up doing a strange, awkward little dance as we try to step around each other. Backwards and forwards we go, mirroring each other’s steps and mumbling an apology when we finally get by? It almost seems like some kind of terrible waltz don’t you think?

So then I thought, what other parts of life are like a dance? Could walking barefoot on the bitumen on a hot summer’s day be likened to a ‘Polka?’

Would we seem to be doing the ‘Cha Cha’ when an insect gets under our clothing?

‘Tap’ might seem to be an appropriate style the moment a cockroach enters our line of vision.What about those instances when we slip-over in the bathroom, or take a tumble down the steps, desperately flailing our arms about as we try to regain our balance – could we appear to be doing the ‘Jive?’

I personally think the ‘Bump’ from the 1970s was invented by someone who’d spent way too much time endeavouring to stay upright on public transport. (If you’re under the age of 40 you’re probably wondering what the heck ‘the Bump’ is, and now you’ve automatically relegated me to the ‘old fogey’ category haven’t you?)

There are times I’ve seen girlfriends of mine doing ‘The Twist’ in those dreadful dressing room as they try to see if they can pull on the smaller sized item of clothing they deluded themselves into believing would actually fit them. Perhaps someone could also invent a new dance called ‘The Mangle,’ based on women trying on full-piece swimsuits.

This whole thought process had begun when we were having renovations done at a previous work-place. Two workers were talking as they were placing cables up into the ceiling cavity near my desk.

At one point I was reminded of Chubby Checker and said, “It sounds like you’re giving dance instructions.”

This was in response to the comment one of the workers had called out to his mate holding the other end of the cable:

“Just twist again, like you did last time!”