You know I can dance....I can dance. I can dance. Look at me dance on the floor movin'

Dancers on St Pat's display
For years my daughter was escorted to Irish dancing classes. That was our Saturday morning outing. Regular as...clockwork. On top of that were the competitions and the displays quickening around St Patricks Day.  In the basement of the Queensland Irish Association the footwork was choreographed in monotonous detail and we layered our existence there like the filagree on the gaudy dresses.

My wife even wrote a history of the  Club's dancers and drum and pipe band.

We were a 'River Dancing' family.

We others did try to do the stepping business required for the jigs and reels, and tackled set dancing but it was all very folksy and all very difficult as the primary choreography were movement patterns like some Celtic Busby Berkeley show.

And when it ended and the offspring stopped going, the dress was mothballed and Saturday's became routine  free.

But if we had our druthers and weren't so keen to Celtify our identity, for my money, line dancing would have been a much better social investment. Of course 'River Dancing' is line dancing -- albeit in a brutal military line with intricate patterns -- but despite the Céilidhs, Irish Dance is driven by displays and competitions. It is 'popular' only in the sense that youngsters -- mainly young girls -- can fulfill their Red Shoes obsessions and the Celtic diaspora can indulge its roots. It is also very athletic and requires years of training.

...which brings us to today: several years on from  hard and soft shoe routines.

As I work my way through the choro  for the Soul Line Dances I'm teaching myself I recall the words of the Leo Sayer song
I can dance
Oh yes, I can dance
Look at me dance on the floor movin'
I feel good
I can dance
I can dance
I can dance
I can dance
I can dance
I can dance

All I have to do is pad out my line as aside from my wife and I our line is very very short. Of course there are other lines out there. Locally the line dancers come together here every Monday but  it's all country routines diluted with a bit of other stuff to the most smultzy of play lists.

Definitely not country style
Boot scootin' rules and the line dance steps are different to the Soul/Urban Line Dancing culture. There's  a lot of lifting of the leg and planting it down and, above the feet, the torso is held upright  in an almost military caricature of fluidity. In Soul, you lean into the steps, drop the shoulder, start the steps in side of yourself. You aren't a dancing crab. This stiffness of back must be Whitey's way as in Irish dancing upright torsoes are quintessential and it seems that the country line dance tradition has been backbone set.

Since I spend so much time watching the routines in video format I see the cultural divide that is in play. That doesn't mean that I can straddle it and soul up/tune in.  But I know fun and pleasure -- and satisfaction -- when it is on offer.

Why has it taken me so long to dance?

I gotta dips me lid to two musical forms that have got me where I am today: Zydeco and Funk. I luv Zydeco and Funk. Listen and you have no choice: you gotta dance. The music is driven by the dance imperative. So today my ears get to direct my feet (inasmuch, that is, they are talking to one another). And all my years listening thrilled to Soul Music, watching the lines of singers and brass players  doing in-sync dance steps, has paid off. I'm home. Just quietly there is another option -- the Sufi inspired rhythms of Gamelan, Arab and classical Persian music . These may be for me a passionate and very meditative alternative, but I'd make a silly Whirling Dervish. 


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