John Carlson: Guy’s Key To Happy Dancing

These shoes illustrate the steps to a dance any man can learn. Photo by: Nancy CarlsonThese shoes illustrate the steps to a dance any man can learn. Photo by: Nancy Carlson

By: John Carlson—

The older and lazier I get, the more enthusiastically I embrace an innovative style of dancing which I developed back in my middle-aged years.

The key to it?

Don’t move your feet.

It’s amazing how, for many guys, not moving your feet while dancing turns an otherwise onerous activity into a slightly less onerous activity.

Not for all guys, though!

Even way back at our middle-school sock hops, there were some guys who loved nothing more than to be out on the gym floor, “cutting a rug” with Linda, Phyllis and Amy. Furthermore, Linda, Phyllis and Amy loved these guys back!

This is why we backwards guys derisively referred to them as “twinks” and “weenies.”

While they were out there wasting time doing the Watusi, the Mashed Potatoes and the Twist with actual girls, we social rejects were in the school parking lot, preparing ourselves for manhood by chain-smoking cigarettes and chugging beer until we heaved.

As we aged, however, it eventually became obvious to Roger, Jack and Spike that, unless they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with Gary, Skip and Harold, participating in some form of dancing was almost inevitable.

The result was easily observable on popular dance shows like “American Bandstand” and “Soul Train.” These productions drew plenty of twinks and weenies. They were expert dancers, guys who also got good grades, refused to sprout hairy beer bellies and eventually found employment with the Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under dance revues. But if you closely studied the dancers in the background on these television shows, you also spotted guys whose dance moves looked more like they were suffering grand mal seizures.

Those guys were us.

Regardless of how horrifically we danced, in doing so we were basically auditioning for wives.

However, once we fooled women into marrying us by thinking we’d be compliant dance partners the rest of our lives, we began reverting to our true anti-dancing selves.

Nowadays? At any given wedding reception you will find us, lethargically seated at little round tables, intently studying our buffet plates like we’ve never seen green beans, stuffed mushrooms and couscous before.

What we don’t look at is our long-suffering wives. That’s because the moment we make eye contact,  the deejay is going to spin some cream puff of a hit by The Carpenters and the missus is going to drag us kicking and screaming onto the dance floor.

Of course, things could be worse.

Even decrepit old guys who regularly flatline their EKGs can dance to some yawner like “We’ve Only Just Begun.” But say you seriously mis-time that furtive glance at your wife. Even with a forkful of green beans poised convincingly at your lips, you run the risk of being hauled onto the dance floor for the living hell that is otherwise known as the “Cha-Cha Slide.”

Then, God help you.

Of course, ideally this will be for only one dance. After that, having reminded your wife you are an uncoordinated oaf, she will simply dance with other women, leaving you to flip occasional pinky waves at her boogeying past, while the Bud Light empties pile up before you.

But say she does attempt to keep dragging you onto the dance floor.

This is when dancing without moving your feet really pays off.

A note of caution, however: Given this situation, I recommend you warn your wife you don’t intend  to move your feet, since suddenly springing this information on her can have negative consequences. You don’t want to be out there with the Bee Gees singing “How Deep Is Your Love,” when she suddenly realizes she’s dragging you around the floor because you’re hanging limply from her shoulders.

“What on earth is wrong, darling?” she may ask, worried at first that you have suddenly become  paralyzed.

But soon as you admit, “I no longer move my feet while dancing,” she is liable to get a little huffy.

Just remember that, in alerting her to your innovative new dance technique, she should count her blessings, since you are also offering a welcome reminder of all the body parts you can move while dancing!

For example, you can flap your arms in time to the music. Bob your head. Blink your eyes. Twist your torso while wiggling your hips around. And the more you practice dancing without moving your feet, the easier it gets! Ultimately, you’ll be able to launch into exaggerated pelvic thrusts that mark you as nothing less than the “Baryshnikov of Bootie-ville,” all without misplacing a single foot trying to do some stupid dance step.

So, you may wonder, with me being the inventor of dancing without moving my feet, how long did it take my wife Nancy to get used to this?

OK, you might say she is still working on that.

But as she’s throwing me around out there on the dance floor, I can only marvel at how strong she has gotten. She doesn’t waste a lot of dancing time making small talk, either, since she’s always out of breath. Oh yeah, and one more thing.

She always gets to lead.


John’s weekly columns are sponsored by Beasley & Gilkison, Muncie’s trusted attorneys for over 120 years.

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A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.  John’s columns appear on Muncie Journal every Friday.