Shakin’ All Over

Last night Kish and I were at a dinner for the conference I’m attending here in Vancouver when we noticed an odd sensation.  I looked up at one of the hanging light fixtures and saw that it was swaying noticeably from side to side.

At first, I thought it was the overly vigorous dancing of some of our fellow attendees, who were stoked with alcohol and out cutting a rug to a live band.  After all, when dozens of apparently well-lubricated people are twisting, gyrating, stomping, shimmying, and mashed potatoing to their maximum capability, it’s not unreasonable to expect the light fixtures to feel the impact.  But it wasn’t the dancing — it was an honest-to-God earthquake, coming in at 6.7 magnitude on the Richter scale, that set the light fixtures to trembling.  And then it was over before we realized it.

I’ve been in very mild earthquakes before, but this one made our visit to Vancouver special.  Having lived through a noticeable tremor, we feel we can truly say that we have experienced the west coast.

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The Science Of Bad Dancing

From the teenage years forward, every modern male is bedeviled by the same nagging question: how do I dance without looking like a spastic imbecile?

John Travolta may be the only man alive who is truly confident in his dancing abilities. Most other guys are worried that their attempt at a cool dancing persona in reality mirrors the humiliating leg-kicking, arm-jerking efforts of Elaine on Seinfeld. And, if you’ve seen your average guy on the dance floor, you know that those worries are painfully well-founded.

Fortunately, science now offers an answer. Researchers have studied how women respond to dance floor moves, using neutral, genderless depictions of dancing figures in an attempt to take personal looks out of the equation. The results are surprising. It turns out that women like large movements of the head, neck and torso, as well as quick movements that involve bending the right knee. Putting all of the moves together looks something like the funky chicken — except that there is no apparent relation between arm movements and perceived dancing ability.

What about the study tell us about bad dancers? Click on the link above, and then click on the short video that women uniformly found to represent bad dancing — then tell me if you haven’t seen the precisely the same pathetic, shuffling, inane moves on the part of 99.9 percent of the men who give dancing a shot. And guys . . . take a good look, and then vow never again to trip the light fantastic unless it’s at one of your kids’ weddings. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

The Impenetrable Female Dancing Circle

Yesterday’s wedding reception for Joe and Laura featured a DJ, a disco ball, and a spacious dance floor.  As a result, we were exposed to one of the worst recent wedding reception developments:  the Impenetrable Female Dancing Circle.

If you’ve been to a wedding in the last five years, you’ve probably seen an IFDC.  It forms when high-spirited young women forsake the need for a partner and rush the dance floor, forming a circle.  They bounce up and down and clap and do some secret dance unknown to anyone over age 30 while one circle member after another moves into the center to cut a rug.  The participation in the circle is 99% female; rare, indeed, is the Y-chromosomed human who has the confidence in his dancing ability to break into the circle.  And so the IFDC goes on and on, unbroken, a living thing, throbbing and shrieking as each new favorite song comes on.

So, what’s the problem?  Why should even a cranky and grizzled veteran of countless weddings care if young women want to band together, empower themselves, and proudly display their dancing chops?

The problem is this:  if you are a crappy dancer — and let’s face it, that description applies to the spastic dancing attempts of the vast majority of American males — you don’t want to try to break into an IFDC or, even worse, dance with your partner on the empty side of the floor, where your fitful and pathetic moves will be exposed for all chuckling wedding guests to see.  The great thing about a crowded dance floor is that it is crowded.  You and your partner can move into the center of the floor and meld into the mass of pulsing humanity so that your lame attempts to get down aren’t the subject of mass derision.

If you’re feeling in a celebratory mood at a wedding reception, therefore, the IFDC might just prevent you from fully expressing your joy with your patented shimmy and shake.  So c’mon, ladies — after you’ve formed that IFDC for a dance or two, break up, fill the floor, and let the rest of us find the dancing anonymity that we so desperately need!

Not A Great Name For A Dance Place

I was glad to learn that UJ has been out dancing, because my big brother can bust a move with the best of them.  At one point back in the ’70s, he actually owned a white suit a la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.

However, I confess that when I read his post about his dancing exploits I was stopped dead by the name of the place where he is cutting a rug.

Cementos?  As in, Cement Toes?  Really?  For a dance place?  Normally you’d think that a dance joint wouldn’t choose a name that conjures up images of lead-footed people stomping on the feet of their hapless partners.

Still, I suppose there are worse names for a dance hall.  Here are some options:

Macarena Time!

The Awkward Geek Lounge

Stumblebum’s

The Drunken, Sweaty Groper

I’m sure there are others, but Cementos is pretty hard to top.

Dancing at Cementos

The last couple of Saturday nights some of us that work and hang out at the Windward Passage (Amy, BJ, Dana and Mark) have been heading across the street to Cementos to enjoy some live music and dancing. Last night one of the guys in our group said that he hasn’t been on the dance floor in almost thirty years and there’s no way we would get him to dance.

Dancing is always fun because you can do your own thing, the swim, the monkee, the shake, the pony, the hitchhike, the mashed potato or the twist to name a few. Of course for most of us guys dancing is not our forte and the women definitely excel in this category.

That is except for one woman, Elaine Benes below getting down to some dubstep. As George describes it “a full body dry heave set to music”. No matter what you do on the dance floor you can rest assured your better than Elaine !

Creepiness On Parade (Or On The Dance Floor)

Few venues offer better people-watching opportunities than a disco-type establishment at a hotel.  Inevitably, you seem to find a somewhat obvious older guy, probably married, who is out on the prowl, needy and desperate and creepy all at the same time.

So it was tonight, as I sat back and drank a few beers and watch an older guy haunt the dance floor and creep out most of the younger women who just wanted to bounce to the Black-Eyed Peas or latest Jay-Z tune (or whatever else gets people on the dance floor these days). Most of the women seem to have a pretty good creep sense, however, and they stay as far away as possible.

One other observation from a few hours of checking things out a dance venue?  Most guys can’t dance, and shouldn’t try.

Dixie Electric Company

When disco was king during the mid-’70s, discos sprouted in shopping centers across America like mushrooms after a long rain. During that era, the Columbus disco of choice was called Dixie Electric Company and was located in the Great Western Shopping Center, far out West Broad Street. Behind its unassuming storefront facade it had everything you wanted in a disco — a checkered, light-up-from-underneath dance floor, a disco ball, strobe lights, a smoke machine and siren, and a DJ who could sense the best times to move between fast songs and slow songs and the songs that were best suited to make the transition and could hit the strobe light and disco ball at the crucial moment in Fire by the Ohio Players.

My high school friend JD and I used to go to Dixie Electric Company occasionally, just to see if we could screw up our courage and successfully ask girls to dance. The women seemed to show up in dense, impenetrable packs and sit at the tables nearest the dance floor, while the guys would hang out in the dim periphery or near the bar. If you summoned the gumption to ask a girl to dance, you had to make a long walk to the bright area near the dance floor, and if the woman turned you down after sizing up your hair, clothes, general appearance, and likely dancing abilities it was a very public humiliation. Much better to go up with your friend after spotting a female twosome who seemed like good candidates and ask them to dance at the same time, so if you both got turned down you could share a self-deprecating laugh as you slinked back to your table in the cavernous depths of the club!

I have to confess that I liked a lot of the “disco music” that they played at the Dixie Electric Company, even though I didn’t own very impressive “disco outfits” or know any dance steps beyond the beginner-level “Bus Stop.” Still, I thought dancing was a lot of fun if you weren’t horribly self-conscious about it. JD and I had some good times at the Dixie Electric Company, and in recognition of that fact I have called the “disco” playlist on my Ipod “Dixie Electric Company.” The first 20 songs are as follows:

Get Down Tonight — K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Stayin’ Alive — Bee Gees
Funkytown — Lipps Inc.
Lowdown — Boz Scaggs
Got To Give It Up, Part 1 — Marvin Gaye
I Will Survive — Gloria Gaynor
Play That Funky Music — Wild Cherry
Fire — Ohio Players
Neutron Dance — The Pointer Sisters
Turn The Beat Around — Vicki Sue Robinson
Love Hangover — Diana Ross
That’s The Way (I Like It) — K.C. & The Sunshine Band
Jive Talkin’ — Bee Gees
Boogie Nights — Heatwave
Jungle Boogie — Kool & The Gang
Disco Inferno — The Trammps
(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again — L.T.D.
Dazz — Brick
Fly Robin Fly — Silver Convention
Car Wash — Rose Royce