Here’s my latest piece for Eastern Daily Press…
Chris McGuire, Eastern Daily Press
I Don’t Want To Dance…
“There’s always one.
You know that bit in Jaws, where you see from the shark’s point of view? The toothy fella’s scoping out the beach, as unaware bathers splash and laugh, looking for a vulnerable swimmer – easy pickings, so to speak. And then, with a sudden blast of John Williams, the shark’s upon its victim – dragged back into the waves – while onlookers gawp, glad it’s not them in the beast’s clutches.
Well, this occurrence doesn’t just happen on New England’s beaches, it’s going on at weddings, anniversary bashes and Christmas parties all over the world.
Wait a minute, I’m not suggesting great whites are pouncing on unsuspecting party-goers as they nibble Twiglets and neck Asti Spumante. What I’m saying is there’s a social phenomenon we need to start talking about and it’s just as hideous as getting picked off by a hungry fish.
What is it?
Being dragged onto the dance floor, by the ‘life and soul of the party’.
In life, most agree, that the majority of activities are optional. Short of paying our taxes and watching at least one episode of ‘Only Fools and Horses’ over Christmas, the rest of our existence is ‘opt in’ or ‘opt out’. Sky Diving: if you want to have a go, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Eating tripe: if you fancy tucking in, wonderful. If you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, don’t worry you can have a bag of crisps. Joining MI6: if it’s the type of thing you’d enjoy, have a go. If being a spy doesn’t strike you as fun, that’s OK too.
So why is dancing in public the only part of life where people just aren’t allowed to say no? I’m going to let you into a little secret, a lot of people (of whom I may be one) don’t like parties, weddings and the like. They see them as necessary evils, somewhere they need to show their face and endure the goings on for as long as is seemly, before slipping away quietly. There is nothing, NOTHING wrong with this approach to life. It is totally valid.
For many, part of the agony of attending these events is the knowledge that at some point, a friend, family member or mere acquaintance is going to insist on the party goer dancing. This interaction works in the following way: the ‘life and soul of the party’ arrives and suggests their victim should head to the floor. This offer is politely refused. The suggestion is made again, more insistently this time. Once again ‘No’ is the answer. Finally, the ‘life and soul of the party’, who clearly knows best about all matters, physically drags the unwilling participant to the dance floor – where the party goer is forced to dance awkwardly until the ‘fun’ (read: ‘attention seeking’) friend has moved onto another hapless victim.
Why do I say this? Mainly because I’ve heard this type of event recounted to me several times of late, by mortified people, whose idea of a good time wasn’t dancing – but this choice wasn’t respected.
So here’s my plea, if you enjoy doing something – that’s great. Forcing others to do it too is annoying and often totally disrespectful. If you’re the ‘life and soul of the party’ who drags people up for a dance you both know they won’t enjoy – remember there is such a thing as karma. Next time you’re in the sea, floating on a lilo: think of that shark. You may wish you got a bigger boat. ”