Friday, July 31, 2009


God invented dancing to make me look bad.

Okay, wait, I apologize. I know there are debates about creationism and evolution, so a less controversial statement would be:

The human race produced dancing through an evolutionary process over thousands of years in order to extinguish my genes from the good ol' gene pool.

It's comforting to think and realize that millions of years of evolution (or fewer years of creationism) have had their main focus of keeping me from finding a mate. It's almost like I am the zenith of creation. That or the human race has been fumbling for the bottom, and they've finally found it.

Dancing is the process whereby people move themselves in loose patterns to a specific rhythm, at times in conjunction with another individual. These patterns can involve mimicking historical cultures1, mimicking common everyday motions2, and moving from side to side offbeat, while clapping3.

If dancing doesn't strike fear into your heart, well, then, you're not me. To make matters worse, and to make sure I never show my face in public, sadistic people everywhere banded together and made up actual formal patterns for use in dances. Hence the prevalence of Salsa, Ballroom, Polka4, Swing, and others.

Swing, by the way, is the devil's footwork5. Any dummy can waltz, but just try to come up with new ways to entertain your dance partner when you know all of three moves. Admittedly, I'll confess to trying to learn swing at one point in my life in order to woo a woman. Sadly, that was before I realized the purpose of dancing, and neglected to register that by showcasing my abject failure to move in any rhythmically-approved fashion, I was just pounding another nail into the proverbial coffin6.

I know what you're thinking--that you just have to try it and learn. This is, in my case, categorically untrue. I cannot tell you the millions of times people have said this to me, and have likely said it to you as well. Just like some people will never be pro athletes, some people will never push their chairs in, and some people will never be dancers. Some people will just sit and watch movies and eat donuts. That, I can do.

Case in point: last time I fell for the whole try-and-learn philosophy, I found myself on the wrong end of a fiendishly giggling bottle rocket during a country swing lesson. With complete disregard to beat, rhythm, and human decency, I was spun around the room like a rag doll. There was no dancing. Just me acting as a counterbalance to keep this gyroscope in the northern hemisphere. The last time I looked that bad in public involved me puking root beer. I think I'm still working off the rotational inertia in order to obey the principle of conservation of angular momentum.

You're likely better off than me when going dancing, but be warned: the point of dancing is to make you look bad. It's not about feeling good or making connections, it's about eliminating potential mates from the gene pool. Evolution people. Remember, evolution7. One wrong step, and Jorge over there goes out with the chica, and you're getting a ride home to blog about it.

1. e.g., Egyptians and their methods of walking.
2. e.g., starting a lawn mower, or the movement of a sprinkler. The saddest day of my life was last month; while at my sister's house, my niece and her friends started dancing in the room adjoining ours, and I watched as they flawlessly performed these motions which I have tried for years to replicate on a dance floor. They are ten. I have been trying these moves for longer than they have lived.
3. That's actually a lie. I couldn't think of other dance moves (duh, I can't dance) so I went with my old tried-and-untrue standard, the Chris Perry Old Man Shuffle.
4. I once had a seasoned dancer try to teach me polka. It involved her bouncing/flying around the room in a circular pattern while I stumbled over myself and sweat like John Candy on a race track chasing a ding-dong. I think that was one of the most unpleasant moments of my dancing career.
5. It's actually the preferred mode of transport in hell.
6. This seems like an appropriate moment to state my favorite aphorism: to a man with a hammer, everything is a nail. This doesn't have anything to do with the current post, but hopefully it will play a prominent role in the future.
7. If you can't tell, The Third Chimpanzee was on my reading list this week.


drfindley said...

Dude, you lost out to Jorge? And the bitterness inspired this post?

Let me explain this whole dancing problem you've got here. First off, let me give you my credentials: Before I learned how to dance, I had *no* rhythm. I listened to have rhythm on my minidisk player by counted beats in my head and walking in time. And you think you looked dumb? Try walking down the street at some weird gaunt and muttering barely audibly "1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8." You speak of coordination, I had none. In fact, I barely have any now outside of typing, dancing and stickshift driving. I was picked last at every sport I ever played, often have (and still do) walk into walls and randomly knock over things.

There. Does that qualify me as an expert in dancing deformity? I hope so.

Here's your problem: You think too much. Sure you have to think about it initially when you are figuring out steps, but after that every moment you spend thinking "is my foot in the right space or is in my partners mouth" is a moment you are spending not dancing.

Here's your other problem: You are too self conscience. Secret: most people feel like idiots on the dance floor. The people having fun are the ones who've given up on caring how they look. I propose this is the #1 reason why white people can't dance, is because they think they look dumb. Answer: you do. As does everyone. You just think they look cool because they don't have the "am I a total idiot by waving my arms like a loser?" look on their face.

MommaMcCarthy said...

Clearly you haven't yet tried "the thmbs". A classic, yet so simple. I presume you still have both of yours?

jeremiah said...

I must wholeheartedly approve this post. We are clearly related and the proverbial apples have fallen exceptionally close together (though I'm not sure how close to the proverbial tree).

I have a theory to make myself feel better, and it is that the worse your rhythm the better your dancing skills.

chris said...

libby, you have piqued my curiosity. is there some form of dance which even a sucker like myself could master? I am dubious.

Jerkolas said...

There is actually a lot of truth to the role evolution has played in our ability to dance. Some dudes even claimed to have found some genetic differences that can separate the good and creative dancers from white people.