I don’t dance much—not that I don’t dance at all, just not often. I used to dance a lot, whenever I got a chance. Now I don’t have the energy.
I thought a lot about dancing as a teenager, because it involved girls, who had approximately all of my attention. So, since dancing not only involved girls, which was true of other things, but even required one actually to touch them, I was a dancer. I won a dance contest when I was 13.
On the South Side of Chicago in the 1960s, a guy had to dance, and well if at all possible. If you couldn’t dance, you’d best be crippled. A club foot might cut you some slack, but that was all.
We went through a steady stream of dances then, some hip, some not so much—the monkey, the twist, the watusi, the jerk, the twine, the boogaloo, the two-step, and various shades of the almighty bop. We saw other dances on television, but they didn’t work at the parties I went to. I never met a guy who liked to do the pony, but if a girl wanted to pony, he’d pony. Nowadays we talk about our feelings or go to therapy or whatever else she wants. I don’t think I’d pony, though.
The next time I’m in Chicago, I’m going out to a club. That’s where we know the same dances. It’s got to be Chicago because what I really want to do is Walk. The only people who know what I’m talking about are from Chicago. I’ve heard it referred to as the Chicago Walk, but it was just “the Walk” when I was growing up. Notice the capitalization. The last time I ran across a woman who could really Walk, I married her.
Eventually I ran across what my son calls hippie dancing—mostly spastic arm waving without a partner. Dancing was expression always, I guess, but for me it was part of the courting protocol, a way to be close to and talk, maybe, to a girl. If a guy expressed anything, it would be his cool, even while touching a girl. Here I’m not speaking for The Negro, just for me. Dancing created a tension between my run-of-the-mill fear of women’s insanities and my run-of-the-mill desire to lick them—the crazier, the better.
I took a kind of dance therapy class last year, and did 12 weeks of focused hippie dancing. There wasn’t supposed to be any romantic hanky-panky, but a room full of female bodies—some of them writhing on the floor, now and then with you—is bound to be suggestive, and I added a couple to my fantasy list. It was good exercise and therapeutic, too.
I’ve come to approve of dance as self-expression and therapy and whatever else it has to offer, you hippie dancers will be relieved to know. Hippie dancing has a place in an egalitarian and noncompetitive world, although I miss the touching.