November 21, 2014

Just Dance

Shaw Dancingby C. Margery Kempe

Do you love to dance?

For some reason, dancing has been coming up this week in so many conversations online and in face-to-face too. Obviously I need to dance more and that’s good exercise. And it’s cold in the house so getting up to do some yoga or a little dancing is just a way to stay warm (praise all the gods, we haven’t yet got major snow unlike the folks in the west) because it costs a lot to keep a 200 year old house — well, not so much warm as not freezing.

So yeah, there’s a practical side to dancing. Whether you think it the first refinements of a polished society or the province of ‘savages’ dance has always been around. And it has so very often played exactly the role Shaw gives it in the image above: testing one’s sexual mettle. Years ago I berated a male friend for refusing to dance (as I often do). I told him, “A man who gets up and dances — however badly! — is miles ahead of the guy who sits at the table, arms folded, refusing to dance.”

My friend taxed the truth of that statement O.O (sorry, Howie, you know it’s true!) but he agreed eventually (cue that Footloose scene but ten times worse). Men will tell you all kinds of reasons they ‘can’t dance’ (most of them incredibly stupid and sexist and often homophobic). The real reason? To dance well you have to listen, feel, trust your body and respond to your partner.


Physical partnership with attention to details: well yes. As Christopher Morley wrote in Kitty Foyle, “Dancing is wonderful training for girls, it’s the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it.” In other words, it’s a good predictor of sexual performance. You notice the way someone moves, how they take your hand, how quickly they get in sync with your rhythm, when they’re gentle, when they push you to do more. How do they use their hands or is it all in the feet? How do your bodies fit together? There’s no one right way to do it: but you know what makes your skin come alive.

Consider the Finnish tango: even in the snow, the people who often seen to be the least forthcoming about how they feel (trust me, it’s a gene that gets carried along!) go for the sexy heat of the tango. Say it on the dance floor even if you can’t say it out loud.

Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Follow you dark dancing desires with Lady Smut. We’d never lead you astray — unless you wanted to go that way!

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      • Post authorKemberlee

        Jack Lukeman is a stellar performer and singer. And Irish 😉

        Reply to Kemberlee
  • Post authorMichelle

    My love of dance and being married to a nondancer, is what attracted me to take Zumba classes. I missed the freedom of movement to music and the social aspect of dancing so much that I became an instructor seven years ago.

    However, one of my most vivid and sensual fantasies is of being led around a dance floor, by a man who knows what he’s doing. Someday…

    Reply to Michelle
    • Post authorKel

      I think a lot of us have that particular fantasy… it weaves in so many elements of both simple fantasy (your dance partner has to care to b good) and the erotic component of being forced to hyper-awareness of someone else while moving in concert with them. For those who like it, there’s the element of submission – to the music, to your partner, to your own body… there’s the closeness of breath increased by physical activity, possibly the element of other people watching or just being nearby.

      I just dance where-ever and when-ever. I do sort of miss dancing with my ex, though… he was a marvelous dancer. And yes, there is something unspeakably perfect about being randomly sweapt into a waltz in a fairylight-lit courtyard, even if you’re wearing jeans and whatever shirt you threw on that morning. I’m pretty sure we embarassed the friend who put him up to it; he hadn’t expected it to happen, or to look quite like that.

      • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

        I’ve danced in the Plaza Hotel fountain like F Scott & Zelda 🙂 of course I waited for winter when it was frozen.

        Reply to C. Margery Kempe
    • Post authorC. Margery Kempe

      I need to find a zumba class near here. I’ve only been to one but I LOVED it.

      Reply to C. Margery Kempe
  • Post authorMichelle

    Reblogged this on Reading, Drinking and Dancing with a Chaser of Snark and commented:
    One of my favorite fantasies is of being led around the dance floor by a man who knows what he’s doing. Sadly, partner dancing has been relegated to “Latin Night,” or watching the older generation do the jitterbug, wistfully from the sidelines. I wonder if another wave will sweep through, like the brief resurgence of Swing in the mid-1990s. It was too short, but so much fun!

    Reply to Michelle
    • Post authorKel

      I saw a wonderful quote once about being able to pinpoint the onset of a society’s downfall by when it stopped dancing… I’ll have to see if I can find it.

  • Post authorElizabeth Shore

    Those crazy, wacky Finns! I love that video. I’ve been to that park in Tampere where they are. It’s really quite beautiful in the summer, which of course one can’t appreciate under the blanket of snow.

    Dancing is such a beautiful form of expression. Great post!

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
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