Last night, I was at a work event. As the night progressed, something horrific began to occur: people started occupying the large, empty space at one end of the room. Their bodies contorted in spasmodic rhythms. They motioned for me to join them. Panic slowly set in. They were expecting me to dance.
Either way, I couldn’t win. A refusal to dance would have signified to my peers that I’m wetter than a wet wipe on the deck of the Titanic, but their estimation of me would have been dramatically lowered as soon as I busted out some moves. You see my dilemma.
That’s not to say I don’t have a repertoire, of sorts. I’ve got a few moves. I sometimes step slightly forward with my left foot, and I sometimes slightly forward with my right. That’s two right there. In moments of reckless abandon, I have been known to step forward with one foot and then the other. I know. I’m a god damned maverick. I scare myself sometimes.
And let’s not ignore the moves that my top half is capable of busting out at a moment’s notice. Namely moving my arms while defensively keeping them close to my chest, so that I resemble a tyrannosaurus rex whose mother took Thalidomide.
You see what I mean.
More often than not I will seek out an empty table and discuss the awkwardness of this whole social expectation for us to dance, in some grotesque post-Curb Your Enthusiasm display of self-alienation. You don’t have to say it, I know I’m a knob.
I start people watching from my ivory tower. I see a dancefloor as a very accurate description of how British people participate in democracy. There are the snide sideline commentators. There are the people will stay on the floor regardless of the track, because, well, they can’t think of a better alternative. And the others will hear a song they really like, and will march in groups on to the dancefloor with pointed determination. They will also make a huge spectacle of their pointed determination– often actually pointing with determination as they make their way towards the floor, as if their index fingers are being dragged to the dancefloor by some fishing wire connected to the DJ booth. They’re off to dance and they bloody well want you to notice. When the run of agreeable songs comes to an end, they will march off with a similar degree of ostentation.
I have an idea on how to ensure these people get enough exercise: simply play a song that the kids are down with– perhaps some dubstep fart symphony or something– and then, 15 seconds later, whack on a song from The Carpenters. Keep alternating in 15 second increments. And be sure to replace the wooden flooring once a week, some spots are going to wear down very quickly.
But I digress. If you ever find yourself not wanting to dance, look at the dancers. Really look at them. Of course there are the people who enjoy dancing, and do a damn good job at it. But I’d say 90% of dancefloor participants aren’t enjoying themselves. They drag their limbs lethargically and look around, hoping that they appear to be having a brilliant time. Then they pose for the camera phones; irrefutable photo evidence to dismiss any doubts that they weren’t having the most fun in the history of ever.
We go up on to the dancefloor to be with our friends. Why else would we put ourselves through that ordeal? And the social convention of having to dance when there’s a large empty space and loud music playing doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. So, I propose an alternative: Outsourcing.
I’m sure that if we all chipped in as a collective, we could build some huge dancing warehouses in India. Wooden dancefloors that would stretch as far as the eye can see. When it comes to that moment when you’re expected to get up and dance, you set up a video conference and watch your counterpart do the dancing for you. Pay them £5 an hour, and the job’s a good’un. That way, the dancing is still getting done, and we get to socialise without making tits of ourselves. Who’s with me?