Rhodri Marsden: What's the worst that can happen if you take to the dancefloor?

Life on Marsden
  • @rhodri

Dancing badly in public should become a less daunting prospect as you get older. The self-consciousness that blighted your youth ought to evaporate. Pay no more heed to the laughter that greets your innovative, hobby-horse-like prancing to the sound of Chase & Status. Embrace the idea of dancing like no-one is watching, instead of dancing like everyone is watching, intently, with their fingers hovering over a button that operates a trapdoor sending you whizzing down a chute and into the mouth of a volcano.

Dancefloor aptitude is overrated. You may admire the slick shimmying of strangers and worry that your own untutored frugging doesn't measure up, but there's never been any direct correlation between smooth, rhythmic movement and popularity. You're lovely and you can't lambada – so what? A man who can execute a perfectly-timed backflip into the chorus of "Thriller" might also have a gambling problem, be an active member of the EDL and eat his own bogeys. So don't worry. If you've ever had cognitive behavioural therapy, you'll be familiar with the question "What's the worst that could happen?"; in the case of dancing badly in public, the answer is "rip the arse out of my trousers/skirt while high-kicking to DJ Fresh". And worse things can happen on a night out. Fighting, kebabs, etc.

But dancing is one of those rare activities where confidence can entirely make up for lack of ability. At the weekend I strode drunkenly but purposefully onto a dancefloor in Newport to join my friends Dicky and Rob in order to gyrate to the 2002 R&B classic by Nelly. "It's getting hot in here," it goes, "so take off all your clothes." Avoiding the contemptuous glances of the locals, we spontaneously invented a series of powerful moves that involved miming the awkward removal of clothing. Pushing off one shoe with the toe of another shoe. Hopping on one foot while attempting to remove a sports sock. Getting static in the face as you get an acrylic jumper stuck on your head. Afterwards, Dicky said "I think the girls liked it." He was wrong; our choreography was wasted on them. But seriously – would you rather be the kind of person who drunkenly pretends to take off their underwear on the dancefloor, or the kind of person who stands at the bar saying "Look at those bloody idiots"? Pardon? Oh. OK, fair enough.