King's Eye Land: White people can't dance, don't care

White people can't dance. In a time of confronting and dissolving preconceived notions and stereotypes, we should be expanding our thinking by embracing those things that make us alike, rather than letting ourselves be divided by the things that make us different.

Of course, when it comes to dancing, white people are still fair game.

Funny, how nobody seems to have a problem with that one. Then again, maybe white people know. Maybe white people have accepted it. Maybe white people just don't care.

Over the weekend, I went out to see a talented cover band (not an oxymoron). In front of the stage, a teeming dance floor shook to the classic Saturday night party songs we all know (including Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl," Aretha Franklin's "Respect," and Carlos Santana's infernal "Smooth").

All over the dance floor, the characters of our champagne nightmares flopped hither and thither, not necessarily proving the stereotype to be true, but making me aware of something hidden beneath it.

One man, whom we dubbed "Creepy Guy," found ways to gyrate his hips to a rhythm not necessarily established by the band, but perhaps by the band playing in his head.

Another man, dubbed "Cell Phone Guy" because of the large phone hanging from his belt, stuck both arms in the air and shook like a wet noodle in front of a woman who appeared to have an ironing board in her pants.

Across the dance floor, a middle-aged woman wearing what appeared to be a mohair bathrobe swaggered and clapped nowhere near the beat.

Beyond the dancing mass, a lanky man in khakis vibrated by himself at the edge of the floor; he seemed to want so badly to join in, but he had no idea how. He reminded me of how babies dance, bouncing up and down when they see their own reflections.

Then there was me. I sat at a table and watched.

I'd have a real problem with the stereotype if I could dance. Instead, I usually sit and tap my foot and count to four over and over in my head, wondering how to channel that through every part of my body without looking like a fool. I remain mystified by this feat of coordination.

I am not confident enough in my rump-shaking ability to bust a move or shake my groove thing. I also believe very strongly in the notion that there are enough bad dancers out there, and they don't need me making matters worse.

With all that in mind, I tip my hat to those who just don't care.

Under it all, that's the greater truth.

We're not all Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers (we're more like Mr. Rogers), but whether you're a great dancer or an exceptional wallflower or something tragically embarrassing in between, people go out dancing to have a good time.

That notion transcends race. It also transcends physical ability.

So, next time you go out for the evening and don't feel like being a wallflower, remember the words of a wiser white guy than myself:

"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like nobody is watching." - Mark Twain.

I used to hate that quote, but now I think I get it.

He must have known.

Write to John at


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