Dancing is awesome.
Dancing is sexy. The bass pumping, the throng of bodies moving to the beat at a club or a dance festival, a vibe that buzzes, hearts jolting, culminating in make out sessions, hook-ups, one night stands or the foundation of many a relationship. It is a feeling that is hard to describe and I can honestly say that I have as yet to read a romance novel that has nailed the dance scene.
Dance moves matter and they can make or break a budding romance. A poorly written dance move in romance fiction can completely throw me out of a story. Take Anne McAllister for instance. Now I adore her books. ADORE! She is an autobuy author for me, however…in this scene in “One Night Mistress…Convenient Wife” our heroine is yearning for the hero, they’ve been fuck buddies but the insensitive hero has yet to recognise that this is lurrve. They are at a wedding and our heroine is dancing with another wedding guest.
He moved fluidly, grinning broadly as he drew her with him, leading her easily, spinning her, moving her as efficiently as if she were a rag doll with no bones and no brains of her own.
Ummm. No. Just. No.
Lucy Ellis’s fabulous debut which gave us the line “I’m not your mistress. I’m your girlfriend” turning every convoluted Mistress title on it’s head (who on earth calls anyone a mistress in this day and age) has the hero Alexei taking heroine Maisy out to a supper club for a bit of dancing. Sure. This would be fine if you are in your 70s but they are in their 20s, in ITALY! Find a freakin’ club. Even villages in Italy have nightclubs!
I’ve read peculiar scenes where the couple go out for dinner and have a little dance on the dance floor with diners looking on, gyrating scenes, wanton dancing, ballroom dancing – and I am as big a fan of Strictly Ballroom as anyone but I do not find ballroom dancing hot and sexy (though if you do read Ainslie Paton’s Grease Monkey Jive). I don’t want to read about a couple lambada-ing (it’s the forbidden dance – so forbidden it should not be danced), I don’t want to read about dirty dancing, even Patrick Swayze looks daft doing it let alone someone trying to describe it in written form. And I certainly don’t want to read about the slow, sen-su-al dancing where the heroine wonders if that is his belt she can feel against her stomach or something else hot and ridged. Frankly, I read these scenes and I suddenly feel as though I am at Les Larbey and Margaret Bland’s Galaxy of Dance.
There is nothing more unsexy than an awful dancing scene. It nullifies any sense of romance, any sexual tension, any frisson that may have been present between two characters. Let me tell you about such an event.
Many many years ago, I had a double date with my friend Anna, her boyfriend and a friend of his. I had met this guy several times and I liked him. He was funny, he wasn’t hard on the eyes, he dressed well. He ticked most of the boxes. Anyway, the poor guy suggested a night out. As I was cautious about going out with a guy I had only met once or twice I suggested joining our mutual friends at a nightclub in Kings Cross that I enjoyed going out to. I turned down the offer of a lift and Anna and I drove and met them there. The night was going well. It was hot. The music was pumping. Everyone was getting their groove on. And then the guy I was with, the man I was on a crowded dance floor with, disappeared momentarily. Not “he walked out the door to go to the loo” disappeared. More “is that the strobe light or has a poltergeist stolen his body” disappeared. My eyes quickly glanced around and there he was, on the dance floor in a split formation just as he was coming back up with a full 360 degree twirl.
He looked at me as though to say “Have I got the moves for you, Babe”.
I schooled my face while my soul screamed “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. I raised my eyebrows in a “Well, now we know that at least one of us is limber” look while my internal monologue was pulling together an exit strategy. We finished up the dance and I made the “I need help powdering my nose” signal to Anna and we departed subtly to the euphemism.
Upon the toilet door closing behind us, in horror I exclaimed “He did the splits on the dance floor”
“I know” she commiserated with me.
“We have to go” my voice was panicked.
“Absolutely. We cannot consort with such riffraff” Anna said (or kinda said something like that I am sure because that totally sounds like something Anna would say).
We walked out and found the guys. Mr DanceMoves came to my side and asked me if I saw him do the splits. I do recall answering “I certainly did see you”.
As per our agreement, Anna made excuses of tiredness, I made excuses of being her driver and we both made excuses that we were fine walking to the car without them and we left them both to tear up the dance floor without us. We got to the car, we drove down to Harry’s Cafe de Wheels and ate pie floaters while laughing about the most atrocious dance move evah. John Travolta on the screen is one thing but the reality of him on the dance floor is terrifying.
However, this is a scene I have read in many a romance but not with the positive pie outcome I had. How did the dance scene go so wrong in romance books? Why don’t we have more hot and sweaty clubbing scenes. Where are the music festival hookups?
Don’t give me bullshit that millionaires/made up royalty don’t club. Tell that one to Mary and Fred, Kate, Wills and Hazza.
Don’t give me bullshit excuses about cultural differences. Greek, Russian, Spanish billionaires are the leaders of the party throng, for what is Eurovision but the search for the best Europop song for the coming summer.
And don’t give me bullshit age excuses, that the clubbing scene belongs only in New Adult fiction. I have friends in their forties who regularly go to clubs and festivals. The only reason I am not with them is that I hate triggering my tinnitis. And I don’t have tinnitis because I danced at a supper club. I earned my tinnitis in clubs, discos and festivals thank you very much. Fabulous days and nights spent dancing to the pumping beats of UFO, Dig, JestoFunk, Beastie Boys, Chemical Brothers, and so many more. For it was the summer of 1994, dancing at Bondi Pavillion to UFO at Vibes on a Summers Day that I finally noticed one of my friends whom I had known for 3 years had THE best dance moves. He was a groover. He had the funk. And we danced the day away. And we got married 2 years later where we continued dancing with great friends and great music. And this only happened because John had the right dance moves and I didn’t need to buy another pie floater! (Happy Birthday John!)
I now want to read a romance with some quality pumping beats.