Scratch and Dent Sale: Seven Reasons Why I Don't Dance (But You Should)

This is not John Common and you'll never see him do this
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

This is my Personal Anti-Dancing Manifesto (PADM). It is a point-by-point, painfully honest examination of my dancing disability. My hope is to lay bare the ugly truth of this disability and in doing so, motivate you, the Reader, to dance in my place.

Some people dance. They dance freely. The Dance flows loosely from them like the languid unrolling of a sheet. They look beautiful in their ease. They inhabit their own rhythm, smiling, and meaning it. They look like an uncaged bird, free at last. They actually enjoy being looked at. Look at them now: see how they revel in their comfortable power? I don’t begrudge them their dancing… Hell, I’d do the same thing -- if I could.

I’d dance your damn face off...

If I could dance.

One problem: I can not dance. Let me restate this with the proper emphasis: I CAN NOT and SHALL NOT dance. I WILT NOT dance. I DANCE NOT. Are you catching my Old Testament drift, pilgrim?

God skipped my bedroom the night he was giving away dancing powers. Do I hold a grudge against my higher power for this malfeasance? You bet your ass. Does my utter lack of dancing powers make me feel morose, “lesser than,” down in the mouth and otherwise pissed? The answer is YES.

And now, the requisite Chuck Bukowski quote: “I never cry, baby… … Of course I do.” – Charles Bukowski

But enough of my weeping. At some point, the dance-challenged boy grows into a dance-embittered man. And that man writes his personal anti-dancing manifesto:

Reason #1 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) I can play guitar. I can sing. That would seem to indicate that I have rhythm. WRONG-O, sugar. Evidently, all sense of rhythm runs screaming from my body like a scalded dog the moment I get near a dance floor. Can words describe my freakish movements? I doubt it. But I’ll try:

Ever go to the grocery store and get that cart with the one bad wheel? That’s how I dance. No… that isn’t quite right.

Imagine someone accidentally falling out of a 31st story window, stabbing themselves repeatedly on the way down. No… that isn’t quite right.

Rapid onset cerebral palsy meets a drunk trombone player on roller skates. No… that doesn’t really capture the horror of my dancing either. Some things can’t be explained in words, people. But trust me, it ain't pretty.

Reason #2 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) A girl once told me, “I can tell how a man would be in bed by how he dances.”

[Pause for devastating effect.]

Sweet Jesus... You mean to tell me that when someone dances, they’re being evaluated not only on their dancing, but for their fitness as a sexual companion too? This was like hearing I had a terminal, flesh-eating disease.

If this is true, then I make love like a cornered chimpanzee with a permanent fight-or-flight grimace on his face. This means that I screw like a bike wreck. That girl’s innocent comment about how dancing was a surrogate for sexual ability permanently welded my dancing doors shut.

Reason #3 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) Look, I don’t want to play the race card. But White Man’s Overbite (WMO) is alive and real. Scientists are researching the roots of this devastating condition. The nurture camp says we learn WMO from behavioral models and situations early in our childhood. The nature camp says the dark source of WMO is locked deep inside our genetic code. I choose Aristotle’s golden mean and say it’s both.

Regardless of WMO’s origin, the dance floors of the world are a cold place indeed for WMO sufferers such as myself. For all the progress we’ve made in the area of civil rights, it is an indisputable fact that people with WMO are constantly told to sit in the back of the dancing bus. And I just don’t have what it takes to be a Rosa Parks of the shuttered dancing class. I’m just not that strong.

Reason #4 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) Let’s be honest. Dance music sucks. I mean… I’m not an aficionado of dance music (obviously), but every single time I’ve ever been dragged into a club I’ve been assaulted with that old familiar whump-whump pumping away at some ass-shaking BPM. Oh I know… there are endless subtle, nuanced variations of this thing we call “electronic music”. To wit:

Ambient house, Ambient industrial, Ambient techno, Black ambient, Dark ambient, Drone music, Illbient, Lowercase, Psybient, Baltimore Club, Big beat, Broken beat, Chemical breaks, Florida breaks, Nu skool breaks, Progressive breaks, Cosmic disco, Dance-punk, Eurodance, Euro disco, Hi-NRG, Italo dance, Italo disco, Spacesynth, Synthpop, Acid jazz, Balearic Beat, Chill out, Minimal Electronica, Glitch, Nu jazz, Trip hop (aka The Bristol Sound), Berlin School, Electroacoustic, Dirty electronic, Electro backbeat (aka anthem breaks), Electroclash, Electropop, Freestyle music, Bitpop, Chiptune, Downtempo, Folktronica, Futurepop, Glitch, IDM, Nu Jazz, Synthpop, Synthpunk, Trip hop, Speed garage, 2-step, 4x4, Breakstep (aka Breakbeat garage), Dubstep, Grime (aka Sublow/8-bar/Eskibeat), Bassline (aka 'Niche'), Funky, 4-beat, Bouncy techno, Breakbeat Hardcore, Breakcore, Darkcore, Digital hardcore, Doomcore, Freeform hardcore, Gabber, Happy hardcore, Hardstyle, Jumpstyle, Makina, Noisecore, Speedcore, UK Hardcore, Acid house, Bubblegum dance, Chicago house, Dark house, Deep house, Disco house, Electro house, French house, Freestyle house, (US) Garage, Ghetto house, Grind house, Hi-NRG, UK Hard house, Hip house, Italo house, Jumpstyle (Chicago hard house), Kwaito, Latin house, Merenhouse, Minimal house/Microhouse, Pumpin' house, Progressive house, Skacid, Tribal house, Tech house, Martial music, Neofolk, Post-Industrial, Electronic body music, Coldwave, Dark electro, Futurepop, Noise music, Power noise, Technoid, Clownstep, Darkstep, Drumfunk, Futurestep, Hardstep, Intelligent drum and bass, Jump-Up, Liquid funk, Neurofunk, Ragga jungle, Raggacore, Sambass, Techstep, Trancestep (aka Electrostep), Acid techno, BrainDance, Detroit techno, Freetekno, Ghettotech, IDM, Jtek, Minimal techno, New beat, Nortec, Rave music, Schranz, Wonky techno, Acid trance, Ambient trance, Classic trance, Dream trance, Euro-trance, Hard trance, Hardstyle, Nu-NRG, Progressive trance, Psychedelic trance/Goa trance, Full on, Goa trance, Dark psytrance, Nitzhonot, Progressive psytrance, Psybient, Psybreaks, South African psytrance, Suomisaundi, Tech trance, Uplifting trance/Epic trance, Vocal trance, Space music, New Age music, Ethnic electronica, New Wave music, New Romantic, Dark Wave, Ethereal Wave

To me, this dizzying list just proves that there are 166 ways to say “I suck”. My point: dance music doesn’t inspire me to do anything other than leave the area.

By the way, If I ever were to dance, it would be to Tom Waits’ song, “Cold Water.” I would stomp, drunkenly, as if I had a peg leg, in the center of the dance floor and not give a god damn who was watchin’.

Reason #5 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) I think of dancing as a series of seamlessly interconnected “moves”. Kind of like chords in a song. Well… if my dancing was a song, it would be four minutes of someone playing a G chord on an out of tune guitar. Or put another way, I dance like a bad open mic night.

Reason #6 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) I have tried dancing once in my life. It was a long time ago. Wanna know what I learned? I learned that I think entirely too damn much to dance. My internal monologue rivaled a champion chess player evaluating his next move. I nearly overheated my cranium wondering “WHAT THE FUCK AM I GONNA DO NEXT?” I ran out of moves after nine seconds, after which I grinned and randomly gyrated like a retard in front of that poor, poor girl.

Reason #7 Why I Don’t Dance (But You Should) Okay. Here’s an admission: I secretly believe that I am the world’s best dancer. But only if the song is 9 seconds in length. If songs lasted nine seconds, I would be a frickin’ solid gold dancer. I can bust a mutha-humpin’ MOVE for nine seconds. (Ahem... is dancing really like sex? Dammit!) I look guh-ood for that first nine seconds. But then, my mind kicks into gear. I begin thinking… and I run out of moves. Yes. I just said “moves”. That’s another problem… See Reason # 5.

Why You Should Dance In My Place The denouement of this unpleasant dance confession, of course, is that you have to dance in my place. There are John-shaped spaces on dance floors across America tonight. Lonely, sad, empty spaces on the dance floor, waiting to be filled with your gorgeous self. I need you to dance for me. It’s your civic duty. And when you are out there, letting yourself go, shake it, just once, for me.

Besides, we all wanna see what you’d be like in bed. I bet you’re a natural. -- John Common

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.