Music I Dance To

As I get older, it’s harder to get me on the dance floor.

As I get older, it’s harder and harder to get me on the dance floor (or, if I really strut my stuff, help me off it). Basically, there are only 8 songs that will force my hand… and engage my hips and feet.

  1. In the Mood. My parents were excellent dancers. I inherited their joy of movement … without their grace. Still, I can faux-swing with the best of them (though it will be obvious that the best are them). Heel-toe/heel-toe/step back-return (repeat); arms-up/slide-off-shoulders; spin-out-partner/yank-her-back; heel-toe (do-si-do)/etc. I’m not winning an Izzie, but I’m having a blast.
  2. Ain’t Too Proud to Beg. This classic from the Four Tops says it all: Truly I AIN’T too proud to beg, including for this song (and not to be water-boarded: should the situation ever arise – imagine a Trump Presidency – I’d beg not to be water-boarded.)
  3. Heat Wave. The music calls me, I rise. I feel the heat! I’m sizzling, a virtual Supernova (my wife might say: Gas Giant). Also, like the song says, I’m waving: at the DJ, at other dancers, at motionless gawkers, often spasmodically (gotta work on that).
  4. Don’t Stop Believing. I didn’t recognize its potential as a dancing magnet until the last dozen weddings I’ve attended. Now I sound like Lea Michelle as I belt out this tune on the dance floor while going through my patented moves (or are they copyrighted?). Anyway, people appear to enjoy when I do this (I’m sure it’s joy: big smiles, some laughs, and lots of pointing).
  5. All For You. Not everything I like is over 30 years old. This Sister Hazel number gets my fingers snapping and toes tapping every time (awkward, the last time I heard it at a funeral). Besides, it’s so romantic: “It’s hard to say what it is I see in you.” What star-crossed lover hasn’t said this to his beloved, often just before their breakup?
  6. Hava Nagilla. OK, a different kind of dancing. But I’m a sucker for this ubiquitous Jewish tune: Offer me a Nagillah (“Howie, have a nagillah. Now, have another nagilla”), and I’m immediately on my feet … joining the throng who doesn’t know whether to leap and kick or just do the mayim (grapevine) step, whether to go clockwise or counter, whether to stick with the growing mayhem or break away to start a conga line, and when to just stop and applaud the antics of the bride’s and groom’s inner circle cavorting in the epicenter. (Someone should write a rulebook.)
  7. The Electric Slide. After I learned the original version, I got kudos from my guy friends for rushing onto the dance floor to uphold male honor whenever this was played. Unfortunately, the dance steps morphed over time, but I refused to relearn the moves. Now I still rush up when the music plays; but I’m doing a 1970s, thumbs-up, white-man’s-overbite version, while the younger crowd is moving its collective shoulders and sashaying their butts. My male friends still shout “Get down, Howie!” But they’re not applauding my “getting down” moves, but ordering me off the floor.
  8. Virginia Reel. I forgot how much I like square dancing until I didn’t injure myself at a friend’s birthday dance party last summer. (Since my friend is a few year’s older, as were many of his friends, the non-injury was helped by the caller’s pace, which was approximately a waltz. But still … any dance party I can walk away from is a good dance party.)

And maybe that’s the real discovery: whether or not my favorite tunes get played, any dance party I can walk away from, smiling and uninjured, is a terrific dance party.

Howard Zaharoff