This is my Personal Anti-Dancing Manifesto (PADM). It is a point-by-point, painfully honest examination of my dancing disability. My hope is to lay bare the ugly truth of this disability and in doing so, motivate you, the Reader, to dance in my place.
Some people dance. They dance freely. The Dance flows loosely from them like the languid unrolling of a sheet. They look beautiful in their ease. They inhabit their own rhythm, smiling, and meaning it. They look like an uncaged bird, free at last. They actually enjoy being looked at. Look at them now: see how they revel in their comfortable power? I don’t begrudge them their dancing… Hell, I’d do the same thing -- if I could.
I’d dance your damn face off...
If I could dance.
One problem: I can not dance. Let me restate this with the proper emphasis: I CAN NOT and SHALL NOT dance. I WILT NOT dance. I DANCE NOT. Are you catching my Old Testament drift, Pilgrim?
God skipped my bedroom the night he was giving away dancing powers. Do I hold a grudge against my higher power for this malfeasance? You bet your ass. Does my utter lack of dancing powers make me feel morose, “lesser than”, down in the mouth and otherwise pissed? The answer is YES.
And now, the requisite Chuck Bukowski quote:
“I never cry, baby… … Of course I do.” – Charles Bukowski
But enough of my weeping. At some point, the dance-challenged boy grows into a dance-embittered man. And that man writes his personal anti-dancing manifesto:
Reason #1 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
I can play guitar. I can sing. That would seem to indicate that I have rhythm. WRONG-O, sugar. Evidently, all sense of rhythm runs screaming from my body like a scalded dog the moment I get near a dance floor. Can words describe my freakish movements? I doubt it. But I’ll try:
Ever go to the grocery store and get that cart with the one bad wheel? That’s how I dance. No… that isn’t quite right.
Imagine someone accidentally falling out of a 31st story window, stabbing themselves repeatedly on the way down. No… that isn’t quite right.
Rapid onset cerebral palsy meets a drunk trombone player on roller skates. No… that doesn’t really capture the horror of my dancing either. Some things can’t be explained in words, people. But trust me, it aint pretty.
Reason #2 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
A girl once told me, “I can tell how a man would be in bed by how he dances.”
[Pause for devastating effect.]
Sweet Jesus... You mean to tell me that when someone dances, they’re being evaluated not only on their dancing, but for their fitness as a sexual companion too? This was like hearing I had a terminal, flesh-eating disease.
If this is true, then I make love like a cornered chimpanzee with a permanent fight-or-flight grimace on his face. This means that I screw like a bike wreck. That girl’s innocent comment about how dancing was a surrogate for sexual ability permanently welded my dancing doors shut.
Reason #3 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
Look, I don’t want to play the race card. But White Man’s Overbite (WMO) is alive and real. Scientists are researching the roots of this devastating condition. The Nurture Camp says we learn WMO from behavioral models and situations early in our childhood. The Nature Camp says the dark source of WMO is locked deep inside our genetic code. I choose Aristotle’s golden mean and say it’s both.
Regardless of WMO’s origin, the dance floors of the world are a cold place indeed for WMO sufferers such as myself. For all the progress we’ve made in the area of civil rights, it is an indisputable fact that people with WMO are constantly told to sit in the back of the dancing bus. And I just don’t have what it takes to be a Rosa Parks of the shuttered dancing class. I’m just not that strong.
Reason #4 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
Let’s be honest. Dance music sucks. I mean… I’m not an aficionado of dance music (obviously), but every single time I’ve ever been dragged into a club I’ve been assaulted with that old familiar whump-whump pumping away at some ass shaking BPM. Oh I know… there are endless subtle, nuanced variations of this thing we call “electronic music”. To wit:
Nu skool breaks
Trip hop (aka The Bristol Sound)
Electro backbeat (aka anthem breaks)
Breakstep (aka Breakbeat garage)
Grime (aka Sublow/8-bar/Eskibeat)
Bassline (aka 'Niche')
UK Hard house
Jumpstyle (Chicago hard house)
Electronic body music
Intelligent drum and bass
Trancestep (aka Electrostep)
Psychedelic trance/Goa trance
South African psytrance
Uplifting trance/Epic trance
New Age music
New Wave music
To me, this dizzying list just proves that there are 166 ways to say “I suck”. My point: dance music doesn’t inspire me to do anything other than leave the area.
[By the way, If I ever were to dance, it would be to Tom Waits’ song, “Cold Water”. I would stomp, drunkenly, as if I had a peg leg, in the center of the dance floor and not give a god damn who was watchin’.]
Reason #5 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
I think of dancing as a series of seamlessly interconnected “moves”. Kind of like chords in a song. Well… if my dancing was a song, it would be 4 minutes of someone playing a G chord on an out of tune guitar. Or put another way, I dance like a bad open mic night.
Reason #6 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
I have tried dancing once in my life. It was a long time ago. Wanna know what I learned? I learned that I think entirely too damn much to dance. My internal monologue rivaled a champion chess player evaluating his next move. I nearly overheated my cranium wondering “WHAT THE FUCK AM I GONNA DO NEXT?” I ran out of moves after 9 seconds, after which I grinned and randomly gyrated like a retard in front of that poor, poor girl.
Reason #7 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should)
Okay. Here’s an admission: I secretly believe that I am the world’s best dancer. But only if the song is 9 seconds in length. If songs lasted 9 seconds, I would be a frickin’ solid gold dancer. I can bust a mutha-humpin’ MOVE for 9 seconds. (Ahem... is dancing really like sex? Dammit!) I look guh-ood for that first 9 seconds. But then, my mind kicks into gear. I begin thinking… and I run out of moves. Yes. I just said “moves”. That’s another problem… See Reason # 5.
Why You Should Dance In My Place
The denouement of this unpleasant dance confession, of course, is that you, Dear Reader, have to dance in my place. There are John-shaped spaces on dance floors across America tonight. Lonely, sad, empty spaces on the dance floor, waiting to be filled with your gorgeous self. I need you to dance for me. It’s your civic duty. And when you are out there, letting yourself go, shake it, just once, for me.
Besides, we all wanna see what you’d be like in bed. I bet you’re a natural.
John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light at Red Rocks.
CAN YOU HEAR ME
by John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light. Directed by David Dyster/Umbrella Brigade.