How to dance while everybody's watching

Thomas Beavis

“I just want to daaaaance!” I remember my friend in first year whining, with a pained expression only deprivation can evoke. At the time I laughed; now I echo her sentiment. The pandemic has taken a lot from us and particularly the simplicity of going out for a good dance is sorely missed. My whole flat had the craving and, to sate our hunger, we sought out the JFS (Jazz Funk Soul Society) night in Lakota Gardens. We all seemed out of practice, at odds with the usual pre-night rituals, but our excitement at attending an actual event with live music was obvious in our frenetic exchanges over what to wear.

The event itself was a lot of fun. The wedding-style tent daintily fitted out with hanging lights and pot plants made Lakota unrecognisable… had we even been there before?! Although the music was ripe for a boogie, our range of movement was unfortunately restricted to the table; more specifically, to the chair attached to the table.

But never fear, through incessant shenanigans we discovered:

10 ways to dance while everybody's watching​

  1. Dance to the toilet. Probably the most obvious - it sort of happens naturally. Still, it’s fun to cheer on your friends like it’s the first time they have visited a restroom. Also fool-proof as they can’t stop you unless they want you to piss on the floor.

  2. Wave to an imaginary person. This involves standing up and pretending to mouth a conversation to someone across the room/tent. Technically this can be difficult to pull off. Just be liberal with your arm movements, throw in a few foot stomps and there you are… dancing!

  3. Play fetch. My personal favourite. The idea is to throw a cup/object away from the table, then whoever has that irrepressible need to shake a leg can go fetch it. Nobody likes litter, so really we are doing them a favour.

4. Tie your shoes. It can be dangerous bending down to tie shoes: don’t take risks. Take a stand and plonk that irksome shoe on your chair. A little ass shaking is the ticket here. I probably overdid this one… can’t be that bad at tying laces, can I? N.B. I’m not sure the table behind me were a fan of this approach.

5. “Check” for reception. Drawing inspiration from this actual problem in my flat, I had to stand to send my text, photo, voice note, email, job application, whatever… You name it, I had to send it. And I had to dance to curb my anxiety at the prospect of receiving another failed delivery report.

6. Visit a friend. If you are lucky enough to know someone on another table then protocol seemed to be a grey area. Some people were just waltzing on over to other tables, totally unhindered. So, yeah, just do that while bustin’ some sweet moves…

7. Take a photo. Again, a grey area. Seems like you are permitted to stand to get that perfect shot. What’s it to                them if you have to keep trying because your vigorous gyrating is resulting in blurry photos?

8. Jacket on/jacket off. Phew! I was flip-flopping between hot and cold so much I could barely sit still with                    all my layer adjustments. This is a classic.

9. Pretend to fix a lightbulb. Okay I’ll be honest, this one is tenuous. I was quite drunk at this point and                             running out of ideas. Still, rather creatively and brazenly, I used the nearby lighting as a prop for my deceit.                 Like a handyman in a musical, I danced as I worked.

10. Maybe not the most considerate method, but highly effective. The last way to dance while everybody is                     watching is to… fuck ‘em, just do it!

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© Helicon Magazine 2019

University of Bristol