Thursday, May 27, 2004

Don't Dance When You're Hung

As a way to get out of the house and have some fun, I've lately taken to taking dance lessons at Remington's, a country bar on Capitol Hill. It's a decent way to meet people, seeing as the crowd tends to be ("tends to be," but not "is uniformly") fairly friendly, and I get a few hours of fun out of it. And, sad though it is, it's somewhat aerobic. I take two-stepping lessons on Monday night, and line dancing lessons on Wednesday nights. Line dancing in a poorly-climate-controlled venue can work up quite the nasty sweat.

Some quick background on the line dancing lessons in particular: There are frequent twists and turns in the process of the dance; one ends up facing a different direction from start rather quickly. To keep us on track, we practice segments of the dance facing each wall, usually just by staying at the wall we've just turned toward. So, for example, if after the first 8 beats of the music you're supposed to have completed a 1/4 turn right, we'll stop, and start again, but this time facing the new wall so that the next 1/4 right takes you to yet another wall. (I do so hope that made some sense.)

Last night we did a dance called the "Booty Call." Okay, I should have known just by the name alone that this dance was not for me. But hey, I was gonna give it a shot, because it's all about the fun, right? Well, let me tell ya.

The Booty Call is a remarkably simple dance, requiring very little practice, so I'm not complaining about that. I got it, and I'm not likely to forget it, so next time I hear the song I could dance it if I wanted to. If I wanted to.

My trepidation with actually doing the Booty Call comes from the fact that the dance requires some TEN BEATS worth of butt-wiggling. Or pelvis-thrusting. Or whatever. I suppose it's meant to be a kind of flirty dance that way, but from the moment we got to that point in the lesson, I found myself thinking, "I gotta say, I can't see myself doing that." (As a punctuation to this thought, I burst out laughing when this move was introduced to us. I think some people thought that I thought our instructor looked stupid shaking his thang. In reality, I was laughing because I really just knew that I would be the one looking silly.)

Sure enough, during the practice run where the entire room ended up facing me (I was facing the wall with the entire class behind me), I performed the beats... but did NO wiggling whatsoever. The instructor even called me out on it: "You're supposed to wiggle, not just stand there!" I laughed it off, because, well, I was not about to announce before the entire class, like some southern primadonna, "Sir, Ah do NAWAT 'wiggle'!" (I was saved by a heckler from the bar who pointed out that the instructor himself actually didn't do that much wiggling himself, so I quietly let the subject drop and I found myself off the hook -- though still without a wiggle. Heck, I think a worm on a hook would in fact wiggle better than I.)

The saddest part of this story is what I found myself thinking when the wiggling was supposed to take place and why I felt that I couldn't do it. The fact is, as an Asian man, I couldn't help visualizing how stupid I'd look shaking my booty because I couldn't help thinking of William Hung, the tragic hero of American Idol infamy, the Johnny-come-lately of horrific vocal ability. Watching William Hung shake his hips during "She Bangs" made me cringe. (Or maybe it was the actual singing. I couldn't tell. The entire scene was cringe-inducing.) The thought that I could end up looking like him due to my comparable lack of groove thang paralyzes me. And so I must politely decline to wiggle during the "Booty Call."

Frankly, it's not a fair assessment for me to make. In all honesty, during several of the other practice turns (when I faced the rest of the class, for example), I can't help noticing that a bunch of the white boys on the stage (and yes, they were mostly white boys) also could not shake their booties to save their lives either. One guy, John, while a cute guy, couldn't really shake very well at all. Even Richard, whom I have an on-again-off-again crush on, doesn't do the whole wiggling thing with much aplomb (as much as aplomb is needed in a gay country line dance). But he does it with confidence and without self-consciousness. Which is what I should be striving toward.

And yet William Hung appears to have scarred me for life.

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