Loosen your hips, keep your arms down... and go
I know men like music. And music logically leads to dancing. And dancing logically leads to sex. So what’s the problem here? Why don’t men dance?
I’m not talking about ballroom dancing, though it’s a nifty skill to own. At a wedding or a formal ball, you will see me on the floor waltzing adequately and not embarrassing myself. No, I’m talking about the kind of dancing we grew up with. Free-form gyration and groove to loud music we enjoy.
Sure, I know gay men dance, and they do it well. I think it’s a knack they get with their membership package, like the insurance deals you get when you join the AARP. “So, young man, you’re gay. Here’s your keen sense of social satire. And your ability to match furniture. Aaaand your dancing skills. Knock ‘em dead.”
To be fair, there is a brief period lasting from the late high school years through college, during which, when sufficiently braced with potent beverage, straight men will attempt to trip over the light fantastic.
In addition, I have seen historical footage from the 1970s that suggests that adult men, afflicted with cocaine and infected by a virus known as “disco”, donned clothing with wide lapels and flared pant cuffs… I'm sorry, I have to stop. The mental images are just too tragic.
I have also heard reports that there are gentlemen, living in the states I look down on from my airplane window, who engage in something called “line dancing”. I suspect it involves chewing tobacco, or Republican politics, or possibly livestock.
But for one reason or another, none of my straight friends over 30 will hit the dance floor. Not at parties, or bars, or even on the beach. They just won’t! Which leads to that oddest of odd sights – a group of dolled up women dancing with each other. And, guys, that’s just wrong, in so many ways. While you’re sitting at the table, watching, gripping your beer tensely, your woman is out there joyfully moving all her attractive parts around - without you.
Recently, a bunch of friends gathered for a very good meal at one of the hottest new restaurants in town. We wanted to check it out before it went out of business. As we stepped from the restaurant into the bracing night chill, we could hear the thump-thump-thump from the club down the street. “Hey! It’s still early. Why don’t we go dancing?” someone said.
Four male faces glared at that someone. I pretended not to notice. “What do you say? Burn off some of those calories we just sucked down,” I continued. My date Faye was enthusiastic. All the girls were enthusiastic, in fact. They reverted, as is proper, to their former teenage selves. They practically skipped along the sidewalk toward the music’s call.
The men hung back, shuffling behind, the better to grumble and swear and threaten me. My tiny, perfect attorney and pal Robert actually punched me hard on the shoulder. “What the fuck, man?” My mountain of a friend Rodney gently wrapped his giant arm around my shoulders and leaned close. “There will be consequences for this. You understand?” he said in a precisely-enunciated baritone.
“Ha-ha!” I replied cheerfully. “It’s gonna be great, guys!”
Now, I don’t dance well. I’m not Justin Timberlake, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or John Travolta before he became a huge, weird old lump of goo. I just dance. Same way I always have. Lots of energy, not a whole lot of talent. I don’t stand out as good or bad. But I do stand out as practically the only 30-plus guy on the floor.
So I had the pleasure of jumpin’ and jivin’ with Faye and my friends' wives and girlfriends, smiling back at my glowering crew, while they stood on the sidelines and observed in disapproval.
I left the floor briefly to placate them by buying another round of drinks. “Come on! What’s wrong with you guys? Loosen up!” I hollered over the generic club music.
“You’re getting pretty sweaty there, dancing queen,” said Meet, whose wife Sindi was currently a twirling vision of rhythmic grace.
“Grown up men don’t dance,” blurted Pete, who works for an airline I avoid.
“That’s not what Melissa says, Pete,” I replied, draining my beer and pointing the bottle at his girlfriend. “She says she likes the way I move my butt,” I grinned as I returned to the fray.
Apparently, it’s just not done. A straight adult male dancing is somewhat suspect. Silly and unserious, perhaps. Maybe a bit effeminate? I don’t know. And I don’t care. I think the gents are missing out.
My theory is that they’re scared. Anxious that those hips have gotten rusty and seized up by too many years in an office chair. Worried that they’ll look foolish. Big, strong, brave men, who’ve variously survived injury, divorce, litigation, brawls and war zones. Afraid to dance. Go figure.
I’ve told them and showed them how easy it is. Just loosen your hips. Swivel a little, or rock side to side. Put some shoulder into it. Keep your arms down so you don’t look like a complete dick. No man looks very good flailing at the sky. Smile at your woman. And then let the music tell you what to do.
But they won’t listen.
I’ve even explained that dancing makes a woman happy and carefree – and horny, for God’s sake! Dancing is like vertical foreplay, which segues very nicely into the horizontal kind.
To my skittish, glum, irritated, grown up, non-dancing man friends, I’m an outlier. Possibly a pariah. Certainly a provocateur.
I texted Rodney to invite him and Celia out for dinner when I get back from a trip in a couple weeks. He texted me right back. “OK - and if you mention dancing I will break both your legs.”
Of all my friends, Rod is the only one who could actually do that. But I don’t think he meant his threat literally. Probably not. Anyway, I’ll find out soon. Fortunately, not only do I dance, I also run much faster than Rod does.
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