Friday, January 23, 2015

come naturally on the floor

“To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love”
 ― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Last night, one of my housemate dragged us all out swing dancing. Although we were all cowardly, tired, and loath to try new things on a Thursday night. Not having really experienced dancing outside of the modern date-dance, where you are stuck with one partner the whole night (even if he's an excellent partner, in which case the verb's connotations are unflattering, but still accurate. Enchanting or boorish, you're still stuck with that partner.), I was pleasantly surprised by the adventurous experience of dancing with multiple partners.
Naturally, I compared them not only to one another, but to stereotypes that exist in Georgian and Napoleonic literature of men at dances with which I have previously had no understanding of, because I lacked the experience to provide context to them.
But now, I certainly do.

Top Ten Stereotypes of Men at a Dance That I Previously Have Not Encountered and Now I Have:

1. The Old Man Who Dances So Fast and Energetically, You Cannot Keep Up With Him

And he is so preoccupied with leaping joyfully, he can barely register he's left you behind, reeling in the dust-storm his stomping heels have kicked up.
It takes two to tango; it takes one to make a fool out of themselves
 And you're like: I'm stepping on everybody's toes. You're gyrating like a caffeinated praying mantis. When will this song be over?

2. The Old Man (so many old men!) Who Dances Really Well, But You're Like:? 
I mean, you're a wonderful dancer, but this feels like a daddy-daughter dance (which are delightful, in their own right: like at commencement celebrations and weddings).
I hope all of these men find a partner who is their equal in skill as well as age:

Get this man an Ellie

3. The Insecure Boy
 He'd Rather Talk Than Dance, And He'd Rather Get Fresh Than Talk.
After the music finishes, he tries to flirt with you while you're sweating and you're like: I don't need to talk to you in glib tones about my job as a school teacher, I just need you to stop wincing every time you miss a beat in the music.


4. The Pompous Leader. 

Who can't seem to manage to cue you into what he's doing. He's doing something. We're not sure what it is. It involves a lot of footwork, and not actually leading you anywhere, which leaves your dancing looking less like dancing and more like two breathing faux pas colliding into one another. Occasionally, he will condescend to remind you of the basic steps, and he promises you that your "beginner's nerves" will leave you eventually. And you're thinking: Actually, I'm banking on you leaving me eventually.
"Don't worry, you'll get the hang of it someday," he tells Greer.
5. The Artiste

He's all about "feeling the music."
This song has an "unusual beat."
Beware of sudden movements, derived from an overactive marriage of imagination and time signature changes in the music.

You may be feeling the music, but I'm not feeling this, bro.

7. The Duty-Bound Chivalrous Gentleman

He feels honor-bound to dance with every woman in the room. No woman shall go neglected in his presence. Let it never be said of him that he did not do his duty; or was never a gentleman; or never completed his offices with the distinct heartlessness of a robot.

He's already planned out what to say on the dance floor. Perfect.

8. The Boy Who'd Rather Dance Than Lead

He's great, has flashy moves, and carries himself with style, but it's a one-man show. And you're like: If you want to show off your fancy footwork, go join the cast of Newsies or something. If you want to dance with a woman/another human being, and not just your reflection, then I'll be here all night. You'll find me in the middle of the dance floor.

Throwin' shade on the self-absorbed two-stepper

9. The Wallflower

There are plenty of women on the sidelines, and I sympathize with your need to rest your feet or whatever, but I'm here to sadly inform you it's your civic duty and ask one of them to dance, even if she is only tolerable, and not handsome enough to tempt you.

We all do, bro. And we get over it. Hit up the cash bar.
 And I apologize on behalf of our culture at large for not providing you with the social upbringing necessary to equip you properly for this task.

10. The One that Sweeps You Off Your Feet.

Amazing, how a simple thing like two bodies moving in synchronized motion--perfect harmony of leader and follower, a perfect communication of intention and motion-- can produce such undeniable feelings of exhilaration.
And I see now why Jane insists that a fondness for the dance leads so easily to a fondness for one's partner.

(Also, coming up with a round sum like ten was hard. Mad props to Buzzfeed writers who have to make lists of fifty or one hundred or something.)

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