My Dancing Machine’s in Need of an Overhaul

By Jason Menard

Thankfully, they don’t often surround dance floors with mirrors, because if they did our feet would be firmly rooted to the ground.

Dance is one of the wonderful ways we have to express our joy and happiness, and celebrate life. And from African tribal dancers to intricately choreographed professional routines, dance at its finest can be awe-inspiring and a beauty to behold.

Then there are the wedding dancers.

I admit that, in my youth, my friends and I went to the clubs on a regular basis and spent the majority of the time internally lubricating our joints to better shake our tail feathers. Now, in my early 30s and with a family, we don’t hit the clubs anymore.

Mostly, I don’t want to be That Guy (uppercase intended). Think back to your club days and you’ll remember That Guy. He was the one that was clearly much older than the crowd and kind of gave you that creepy feeling all through the night as he stood nodding and winking to everyone in the corner.

As we age and try to avoid being That Guy, seemingly the only opportunities to dance become social events, such as weddings and corporate parties. So the times when I can dust off my-my-my boogie shoes are few and far between – and that’s probably a good thing.

In my head, when I hit the dance floor I’m Denny Terrio. Wait, I take that back, not even Denny Terrio wants that title. My point is such that in my head I feel the funk, y’all, and let it flow. Yet the funky vibe seems to get a little distorted when it gets to my hips. My body’s connected by soul, but each part seems to be skipping a beat. I think I’m a good dancer, but the jury is still out.

And I’m not alone. I recently attended a wedding, and that’s where you’ll find both the best and worst that dancing has to offer! I’m sure that if you watched a video of a wedding dance floor with the sound off, you’d never be able to tell to which song people are dancing, because we all seem to be moving to the beat of our individual drummers.

Increasingly, I’m aware that this is truly a Guy Thing. You watch a bunch of women together on a dance floor and they look good doing that thing they do. They’re moving in unison, actually engaging in conversation without losing track of their footing, and making it flow effortlessly. That is until The Guy enters the fray. As if by conditioning, the women will slowly start to fan out – creating a perimeter of safety as it was – to give the new, estrogen-challenged, dance the room he needs to do his thing, and to prevent them from getting hurt. After all, they’ve all been moving in some intrinsically choreographed motion and now along comes The Guy – a walking potential concussion with elbows flailing and feet moving in time to a song that’s yet to be written!

In fact, dealing with the discomfort that music can bring has long been a rite of passage for any guy. It’s why Stairway to Heaven was the last song played at our high school dance. Sure, it was great to get that last dance with the girl you’ve been working up the nerve to ask all night. Even better, you’d get to dance with her for a whole eight minutes – or so you thought. Then came that awkward time in the song where the bass recorders drifted away and the first beat of the drum hit. Instantly the tempo moved up a pace and we struggled to maintain our decorum in front of the girl (who never seemed to be disturbed by the change.) Finally, Jimmy Page’s guitar solo hit, the whole song picks up speed, and your careful slow dancing routine is thrown out the window! It’s either break the clench and try some ham-fisted mid-tempo individual dance, or whip her around wildly to the song, riding out the sonic waves until Robert Plant brings it home, “… and she’s buy-i-i-ing a stairway….”

Your ability to handle that moment of time marked the passage from boyhood to manhood. You had graduated to the big leagues – riding the peak of club dancing to its inevitable nadir of wedding and company party dancing.

So, as we get older, the dancing machines that are our bodies start to rust, and the music of our generation moves to the oldies’ station, how do we handle the transition? We do what it appears most of us are doing anyways.

We dance with the burning passion of our souls. We dance with a smile on our face and the joy in our heart, knowing that while our bodies may not be in step with the music, our souls have embraced the beat. And when someone asks, ‘What song is That Guy dancing to?’ we can confidently reply that we’re all just moving to the soundtrack of life.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

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