Why do all males have two left feet?

Katy Guest appeals to men to dance better. But not to overdo it ...

Share
Related Topics

The writer who said that dancing was a perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire would have been pretty embarrassed by the sight of Strictly Come Dancing. The celebrity line-up has just been announced, and already there is a sad dichotomy: the ladies shimmy onstage, with sequins, glamour and degrees in jumping about in death-defying heels; the men, with one or two notable exceptions, refuse even to walk elegantly. If theirs were the expression of a horizontal desire, it would be a dark and perverse one, illegal in most states.

Where is it written that heterosexual males must always be curmudgeons on a dance floor? When they take girls aside at school to tell us about sex, drugs and periods, are the boys kept in the sports hall to have both their legs stapled together? Is it considered frivolous to understand the purpose of rhythm? Or is it something to do with multitasking? Perhaps men's preference for prioritising jobs means that they just choose not to listen to music and move all at the same time.

Just like washing, working and learning to read, boys should be encouraged to do dancing because ultimately it will help them to pull girls. George Bernard Shaw, for it was he, got it slightly wrong about the nature of dancing. For many, it is the perpendicular expression of a horizontal ability; an arena in which even misplaced enthusiasm will be better received than an outright refusal to take part.

Men are judged according to their skill in shaking it, but also by the style they choose to shake it in. The steps to the classic Uncle at a Wedding (pointy fingers, eccentric twist, centre of gravity somewhere in your cleavage) are marginally preferable to the Public School Boy (fixed stare, dance class shuffle, tendency to pair off with a dorm mate). The Small Boy on Cherryade (punching, sliding down the church hall on the knees) is a close younger relative of the Student Bop (pogoing to The Proclaimers without spilling a beer). The Brixton Grind is impressive when expertly handled but can be interpreted as a form of assault. The Ersatz Ceilidh is always a good fall-back position, particularly for anyone who can lift a woman twice his weight right off her feet in a Flying Basket without looking like an extra in a Right Guard commercial. But the most important thing is a willingness to try.

That said, there are men who try too hard, and this is where Brendan Cole fits in. Smooth and swish and achingly metrosexual, these are the men who sweep women off their feet for a living and practise in their spare time too. The sort of straight men who turn up at gay bars to hoover up all the spare girls at closing time. The sort who would give themselves 10 out of 10 for sex.

Shaw also wrote: "Do you think that the things people make fools of themselves about are any less real and true than the things they behave sensibly about? They are more true: they are the only things that are true." So here's to the Strictly men with the nerve to make fools of themselves. And let's hope they all avoid the Brixton Grind.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Amjad Bashir said Ukip had become a 'party of ruthless self-interest'  

Could Ukip turncoat Amjad Bashir be the Churchill of his day?

Matthew Norman
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us