Dad dancing – losing your rhythm and other signs of age

It’s a time of year for celebrations, festive fun and parties. And whether it’s the office Christmas party, a late-night gathering at the relations, or a New Year’s Eve booze-up, one thing is certain: after a certain amount of alcohol there will be ‘dad dancing’. Men of a certain age (and increasingly I find myself amongst their ranks) will never turn down the challenge of five pints of Peroni, an empty dancefloor and the sound of Fat Boy Slim blasting out of a suburban PA system.

The plain and simple truth is this: men don’t like to think that they’ve crossed that indefinable line that lies between ‘cool, funky, 30-something dad’ and ‘out-of-touch, slightly-portly-around-the-waistline, middle-aged man’. In our poor, deluded and beer-addled minds we still think we’re the 25-year-old young buck who once bestrode the coolest club dancefloors of the metropolis (and even that’s pushing it, given that, in restrospect, we were never quite as cool as we thought we were… sorry lads).

So, what exemplifies a good dad dance, then? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, dad dancing is “awkward or unfashionable dancing to pop music, as characteristically performed by middle-aged or older men”. Harsh, you might say, though it does almost sum up this terrible affliction. But I think that definition misses out the real tragedy that is the spectacle of a man trying to lose himself in the latest Daft Punk track, whilst simultaneously metamorphisising into his own father. An image that will stay with me till my dying day is that of my own father attempting to dance to the mid-1990s drum & bass sounds of ‘Super Sharp Shooter’ at my brother’s wedding reception. Chilling! I’m not quite ready to become that man just yet.

So, what is it that happens between 35 and 40 that suddenly turns us poor blokes into dad-dancers? After much extensive research, I can reveal the answer is this: we forget we have hips! Go to a family wedding or an office party and take a look at the hapless dancer. The face will be gurning, David Brent-style to the rhythm of the current track that’s pulsing out of the speakers. The arms and upper body will be flailing around, occasionally in time with the music, but often-as-not to a rhythm all of their own making, knocking drinks and party-size sausage rolls from anyone within a one-metre radius. The legs will be moving, again to an indefinable rhythm of their own, and certainly not in time with the movements of the arms.

But if we focus our attention on the hip area, you’ll notice a distinct lack of any rotation, grinding or general rhythmic movement. Like a Buzz Lightyear figure who can only move his legs back and forth, but can’t move his pelvis, the dad-dancer has lost his ability to swirl those hips – he is, in essence, the anti-Elvis: resigned to moving his limbs but without any of the passionate, pseudo-sexual gyrating that accompanied the dancing of his teens and early twenties. He has lost his mojo, the poor fella.

So, what can we do to cure this? I suggest government-funded evening classes for all men aged 40 and over where we can be taught once again to move those hips. A weekly dose of old-school hip hop, or 60s R&B to enliven the dwindling flame of funk that has fluttered and died within our poor, middle-aged loins (yes, I know, it’s a terribly evocative word, loins).

Mature men of the world – go in search of your mojo! Search not for your youth, for time has given you experience and skills that the 20-year-old you was in dire need of. But start your quest to find the holy grail of rhythm which you once possessed. Find the funk and get those hips moving. Good luck!

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