Your dancing is awful

I have a confession to make: I like dancing.

Or at least I like the idea of it, since I’m not sure I’m the kind of guy who should be dancing very often. But ever since hearing Strauss’ Blue Danube waltz in 2001: A Space Odyssey as a child, waltzes, minuets, mazurkas etc. have held a certain sway over me (which is also perhaps why I struggle with rhythmically mushy composers like Wagner). Waltzing with a lovely lady is something of a secret fantasy of mine.

I just finished watching the DVD of the Royal Ballet’s 2007 production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Although I’ve almost always enjoyed ballet music, I’ve never actually bothered to watch an actual ballet until now (well, a ballet that wasn’t in a Powell & Pressburger film at least). It’s a beautiful performance, and makes me wonder why I put them off for so long. And I don’t care if you think Tchaikovsky is middle-brow stuff. 1812 Overture aside, his music is one of the best instances of popular appeal and good taste coming together.

It also led me to think that dancing is one of those art forms which, in modern times, has largely gone down the drain. I mean, flailing your body around in joy is a pretty primal thing, and it only becomes culturally interesting when it gets sublimated into a more rarefied form. But so much of modern pop music is only up to the task of pushing dance into the other direction – making it into a sort of sub-Dionysian catharsis which is either silly or directly feeding our baser natures. I enjoy the odd piece of music from the usually arid wasteland of hip hop, but the fact that you can’t really dance to the music without a lot of bumping and grinding gives me pause.

In my more heathenish days, I did waste some time and money in the club scene, since that was what everyone seemed to expect of me. But even then I could never bring myself to actually enjoy it. All the blistering techno beats just seemed to be beating me into a drunken submission.

Final dancing confession of the evening: In a high school drama class yours truly was given an assignment which involved choreographing and participating in a dance to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Thankfully no visual record of this event survives (to my knowledge).

About Josh W

Scribbler and doodler
This entry was posted in fragments of culture, pop culture and its discontents, this seemed important to say at the time. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Your dancing is awful

  1. Awesome Girl says:

    hmmm disclaimer, i enjoy hip hop 🙂
    i think directly feeding our baser natures is something that should be addressed in more social arenas than the dance floor. “letting go” is such a difficult task to ask of people… as if allowing ourselves to succumb to our deepest needs and desires is unnatural. I think clubs, when they’re not being creepy, add such fantastic value to our society, i wish they could cater to more than the younger crowd. the tighter we wind ourselves up, the more we are just living for someone else’s benefit. The body is so shamed in society… the body that carries us, from beginning to end, through this life, which holds within it our lives, our souls, our lungs, our brains and minds and thoughts and memories, our pain, our pleasure… flailing your arms is such a human, personal act. you aren’t dancing based on someone’s rules for how to dance, you’re literally submitting to a moment of freedom and ecstasy. you are finding divinity within yourself. I mean, i am getting into a whole bunch of stuff that I couldn’t properly express in a comment on your blog 🙂 But I thought I’d give my two cents

    • Josh W says:

      I do enjoy *some* hip hop, because I like almost anything with a solid rhythm. I just think it’s a problematic art form.

      There’s nothing wrong with desire per se. If anything, simply expending your desire on the basest level possible just shows that you don’t desire enough, or want to be rid of it. Our desires need to be sublimated and turned towards better things. While the girl flailing about in the dance club might be getting more of an instant feeling of ecstasy than the ballerina, the ballerina has the gratification of being able to turn the movement of her body into a work of art. Freedom through discipline.

      But for us who aren’t crazy awesome dancers, I’d much prefer it if we took some notes from those Jane Austen-style balls. At the very least it provided an avenue for young men and women to get to know each other in a non-threatening atmosphere.

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