“Come on, it’s fun!”
Listen, I’ll be the judge of what’s fun and what’s rigid sigmoidoscopy. And don’t think I can’t see the hidden message behind your eyes. You only want me to join in with this farce because you’re picturing me wheeling about the room like an epileptic in a ball pool.
I’m truly sorry but I’m going to have to do something I swore I’d never do. Hell has frozen over, water is running uphill and yes, that’s a flock of pigs up there. I’m going to quote Phil Collins.
I can’t dance.
And Eddy Grant: I don’t wanna dance. I have all the natural rhythm of a vomiting teenager on the Nemesis Inferno, but you already know that don’t you? That’s why you’re imploring me to gyrate comically while being stared at by angry young men with their top buttons done up and no socks, worried my mysterious new shapes are going to dazzle that one woman they’re all trying to impress who looks like Ronnie O’Sullivan.
At various points in a young, then less young, then fuck-me-was-there-that-much-grey-up-there-yesterday man’s life he’ll be faced with the nightmarish prospect of dancing. Sure, women can squirm about however they want and still earn the approving gaze of prospective paramours in your standard low-rent mating ritual. But men trying to dance consistently reminds us of a herd of lolloping wildebeest praying not to be the one picked off by hyenas cackling with hilarity beside the dancefloor. Do hyenas hunt wildebeest? In that bloody metaphor they do.
It starts with the school disco. I can still see the look of disappointment on Catherine Powell’s face as she watched me jerk awkwardly to Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, back when the world was a far more innocent place. I knew at that moment my chances of marrying Catherine were but a speck of dust on a pinhead and my tiny little eight-year-old cock would have to remain nestled up against Luke’s lightsaber in its Star Wars pants for now, though of course we called them willies before Rolf got sent down.
Secondary school: further disgrace, compounded by the fashion sense of a retarded Scouser. It’s not my fault there was a brief period when shellsuits were in vogue though it’s probably my fault mine was turquoise. The whoosh of the material might have drowned out the gales of mirth but I didn’t need a sign language expert to recognise pointing and laughing as I twitched preposterously to New Kids on the Block or Technotronic.
By university I’d realised dancing was for buffoons. Obviously that can’t stop people thirsty for tears of humiliation suggesting a ‘nightclub’ in ‘Coventry’ as the ideal place for a man from southern England to finally become a man of the world. “Come on!” they said. “Come on!” they said again, more menacingly. So into the fray I allowed myself to be peer pressured and away to casualty they all went with sides split wide open. A face of embarrassed rage looks so much funnier in the light of the disco ball.
Only at 20, 21 did I establish that taking a drink with you onto the dancefloor is a cunning defence against utter ignominy. Sadly, feigning aloofness with a barely perceptible shuffle to Eminem’s latest act of aural cruelty marks you out as an enemy of fun, and that in itself entertains your friends (enemies) just as much. What precisely it is about dancing that turns a normal, judicious man into a self-conscious sack of shame I don’t know. I do know the next person who tries to make me dance will earn the type of abuse that would get you disappeared in most African countries.
As with everything a hypocrite says, there’s a caveat. I can mosh. Jumping up and down on the spot to music of genuine quality is a pleasure that makes me misty-eyed as it fades into the memory, though even today with enough cider in me I’ll occasionally show terrified infants how it’s done. If moshing was a sport I would be UK champion in the 100kg class, rebounding off innocents like lumps of iron in the early universe, which is apt given compared to your average young rock fan I’m large and impressive like a planet.
But these days the most dancing I face is at weddings. The odds of people with names like Lisa and Lee slipping Slipknot into their playlist are remote. It’s Come on Eileen and Sweet motherfucking Caroline and a City-to-win-the-league chance they’ll be loving angels instead for their first dance. Can’t we call it the last dance? I’d have a lot more time for weddings if that dance signified the final time a man has to sway ludicrously and pretend to be loving it, before a lifetime of leaning up against the bar graciously turning down invites to jive with the mere flick of his ring finger: sorry, I’m married, I don’t have to dance ever again.
You’re not getting away with it that easy my boy. Though picturing myself as an old man is like picturing anyone born this year seeing a single flake of snow during their lifetime, if I get there they’ll still have me wheeling myself onto the dancefloor for one last hurraaaaaahahahahahahaha. I’ll still hate it with a passion belying my angina and I’ll have to bring a half-full bag of piss with me but that’s all right – I exist for your gratification, so please ignore my protests of genuine discomfort. That new move I’m trying out, thrashing about on the floor, I call it ‘the coronary’.
There’s no hiding from it; even when you die your body twitches and spasms like it wants waking up before you go-go. I’m resigned to there being further instances of this exasperating fiasco no matter that I really don’t need to bet how good I look on the bloody dancefloor.
Just a few notes, though. I reserve the right to refuse to shout ‘OI’ in the first verse of the proper version of I’m a Believer. If I hear the slightest hint of a decent beat I will leap up and down for a full four minutes and welcome the horrified stares with devil horns aloft and my eyes filled with ROCK. If it’s dancing you want from me it’s the full monkey boy you’ll get, so prepare yourself for bruised shins, eyes out and whiplash.
Come on, it’s fun!