I am the worst dancer in the world. I simply cannot dance. When I tell people this, they refuse to believe me. But it’s true, I seem to actually lack whatever gene it is that gives people the ability to dance. If there’s an equivalent to dyslexia that affects the feet, then I have it. Dyspodia?
In years past I found work in a carnival sideshow as the Incredible Man Who Cannot Dance. The barker’s pitch was indelibly etched into my mind. “Roll up, roll up, see the incredible man who simply cannot dance! Watch him stumble his way through a simple waltz! See him fail to execute a basic jig! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he cannot dance at all!”
“But surely,” one lady said, “he must be able to dance a little bit. I mean, everyone can dance a step or two.”
“Believe it or not, ma’am, for tuppence you may see it yourself,” the barker replied.
The lady and her gentleman companion emerged from the tent some moments later, clearly shaken.
“That was horrible – simply horrible,” the woman wept.
“You orter be ashamed of yerself, showin’ that to respectable folks,” growled her companion.
It was humiliating and exploitative, but at least the straw was changed regularly and my handler didn’t beat me too badly. When you have an arts degree, you take what work you can. Anyway, I thought those days were behind me, until the other day I received an invitation from a friend for whom I have not yet thought up a humorous pseudonym to attend a Lindy hop class.
The Lindy hop is a form of swing dancing that came about in the 1920s and was named in honour of Charles Linbergh’s 1927 crossing of the Atlantic (although the dance itself pre-dates this). It’s a form of swing dancing that has had a recent increase in popularity, due in no small part to the current ’40s fashion trend.
The class was held in a social club Euston, just off Eversholt Street. I have spoken of Eversholt Street before. It would be a fire-and-brimstone preacher’s dream, as it would appear to have representatives of just about every vice they’re against. Alcohol, gambling, stripping, pornography, transvestism and – at our destination – hot devil jazz music.
Nonetheless, for better or for worse, I went along. Much as the Nicknameless One’s company is never less than sparkling, I suspect the thrill of dance is one to which I am entirely immune. I spent an entertaining hour of tripping over my own shoes, bumping into walls and just generally moving like a man with two wooden legs. I have hobbit feet that are great for long-distance walking, but for delicate and fancy movements are somewhat lacking.
In conclusion, when they finally get round to making a musical based on my life, Lindy hops should not feature too strongly.