jump to navigation

Cheer December 9, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Insomnia or, at the very least, disturbed sleep caused by worrying that I might die while dancing along to Mickey by Toni Basil, is wreaking havoc with my clockwork. Still, as luck would have it, I’m keeping the world afloat single-handedly and there’s no time for sleep with all the scampering I have to do in my translatorly hamster-wheel.

Do you dance, darlings? I used to think it was a thing to do but as I’m now not far off the telegram from Her Majesty, I’m close to giving up the ghost. I’ll throw myself around a dance-floor if need be, but need doesn’t often. My mother taught me to waltz, or to move in a shape approximating a waltz, no doubt seeing it as a vital life-skill for a man about to embark on adulthood in the 1990s – I put it down to her not knowing how the world works rather than actual madness. And, anyway, her mind’s in far better shape than mine is and she’s 200 if she’s a day, which she is, at least, because she had me, and I wasn’t born today, or even yesterday – and I dutifully tried to pass on my dancing skills to the Russian in case we ever establish a foundation and start hosting gala dinners but my beloved is not light of foot or, indeed, mass and I think his dancing exploits are best left uncategorised, unnamed and unchoreographed.

(Speaking of choreography – Ms. Basil’s main bag – guess how old Toni Basil is now. No cheating.)

So dancing has become a vicarious pleasure.

Call me heterophobic if you will but I’ve got a feeling gay men probably set an ounce more store by dancing than our heterosexual brothers. Us gayers being artistic types – I only translate to help humanity. I’m a singer-songwriter-sculptor mostly – means that a dance-floor pulsating with poofs might even have the odd profesh or two on it and it’s not a rare treat to see someone moving in a way that seems to have education behind it. I look on in admiration and order myself another drink.

Darlings, but even we artistic gayers are products of our surroundings. And unless one makes a very concerted effort to pretend to live in a different world and is very selective about the company and geography one keeps, there are still chapters of one’s life that are heavily heterosexual. I am unfortunate enough not to know any gay men much older than myself or any long-term gay older couples. So I don’t know if the Russian and I, as surely as bankruptcy follows Christmas, will do that couple-dance that so many of our older heterosexual co-humans do. You know, the sort of jivey-dance. Him twisting her around. Their arms fumbling overhead. Catching her, supposedly, if she has spun clean away and then halting that momentum and spinning her back at just the right time. And all performed, almost without exception, with a total lack of co-ordination and skill after the committed consumption of booze.

I was only reminded that I didn’t have a prototype of couple-future when the Russian and I ended up Sunday-night-drinking in Poland. The club was quiet, naturally, and only hardened boozers bothered venturing out in flagrant disrespect of the working week ahead. Psychotically drunk people who’d never been to ballet school hurled themselves around furiously. Occasionally I would worry that it was about to descend into violence. The more psychotically drunk men were all much the most huge and most meaty present. “Probably not gay at all,” the Russian and I would reassure ourselves, drawing naturally gifted and florid designs for pink-gated communities on beer mats, but then one would pull his trousers down and dance in his boxer shorts and the other would pull his t-shirt off and then, in a crowning dénouement tying up all loose ends neater than a Vienna baker, they would snog each other and collapse with an unsexy thud onto the stage. (The Russian and I set fire to our blueprints.)

And it was only the straights who could show us the way in how to grow old gracefully and dance like proper couples. A deliciously jolly pissed couple did the inelegant jive-dance. Their movements were so slow, so padded, that even their reactions to getting the spins wrong without fail would come about twenty seconds later. Mr. would spin determinedly on. Ms. would move as the laws of physics dictated, having no mental input to contribute, and would be hauled back in close when Mr. was in a position, both physical and geographical, to do so. She would try to mouth words of apology and self-deprecation, blinking very slowly throughout. He would guffaw jollily. Then they would snog.

“Darling, we don’t know how to do that dance. Maybe it is a vital ingredient of a happy partnership. And we don’t have any older gays to ask guidance. We are pioneers. We don’t know what the future holds. Oh god, if we get rich and establish a foundation and have gala dinners, will you instantly then run off and leave me for someone 19? I promise I don’t mind that you wear pyjamas.”

Luckily for us, No Stress then rattled scratchily off the gramophone. We got jiving with the best of them and, do you know, I think we were even better than the Puerto Rican couple.


1. Tim Footman - December 9, 2008

Toni Basil appeared in the Monkees movie Head (1968) so she must be at least 60 now, quite possibly older.


2. marshaklein - December 9, 2008

This has cheered me up no end.

Dancing is one of those things that, along with trekking holidays, life on a remote Scottish island and running a B & B, is better in theory than in practice, in my case anyway although to be fair I’ve only actually tried dancing. However, as GSE can attest, my attempts this year at both salsa and flamenco have been laughable (and not in a good way).

3. Geoff - December 9, 2008

If you want to be shown how to couple dance by elderly gays, I suggest a trip to Milan. I was there a few years ago, and the main room in the first club we went too was full of elderly gay (and lesbian) couples waltzing and foxtrotting around. It was the most surprising sight I’ve ever come across in a gay club (and I’ve come across a few surprising things, as I’m sure you can guess). It was very sweet and totally different.

4. oyebilly - December 9, 2008

I dance without moving my body. Safer that way…

5. suburbanlife - December 10, 2008

Toni Basil is younger than me – good for her! her choreography is refreshing!
Now, for a tetero couple, Rumpole and i are atrocious examples of the art of coupes dancing. Whenever we dance, and that is seldom, people tend to fall of their chairs laughing. That must be because we operate on two different rhythms – good thing we never tried the rhythm method of birth control, eh? Nut who cares anyway, we always have a blast. I’ve got to try teaching Rumpole Vogueing. Now that should be a side splitting sight. heh! G

6. BiB - December 10, 2008

G, good for you both, even if you are on different rhythms. And giving people a laugh is a good public service. I’ve got a feeling my parents weren’t bad dancers, and their idea of a night out, which they didn’t have often, what with the 75 children, would certainly have involved dancing and, I’m guessing, waltzing and the jivey dance I attempted to describe above.

Billy, do you mean you just stand on the dance-floor, being a sort of non-dancing installation? Which is perfectly acceptable, of course, unless someone tries to buy you for their collection.

Geoff, I’d love to see that. And I’ve seen the Duomo now so can prioritise dancing gays on my next trip. When I was a new gay, that gay tea-dance seemed to be all the rage in London. Does it still exist? I never went to it and I don’t know if it was an older public or not but I guess it did include learning proper dance moves.

Marshypops, have you had the B & B fantasy too? I know a Danish couple who fulfilled their however-long fantasy of opening one on some tiny island somewhere. Bankrupt alcoholics within minutes, of course. But good for you going along to dance classes with GSE who is a seasoned dancer.

Tim, indeed, 65. I would have happily guessed somewhere in the 40s (not knowing about the Monkees film), thinking she was probably 20 something when she made Mickey and that was at some point in the 80s. It was in fact 82 and she was already knocking on 40. And she’s still going strong.

7. d.z. bodenberg - December 18, 2008

Toni Basil (if that is her in that video) reminds me uncomfortably of Swedish childhood annoying* girl-power stupid-clothed* as-loved-by-ex-anarcho-parents icon ‘Pippi Longstocking’. Or is she just Bonnie Langford with bunches? The video is a bit out of focus.

*according to a survey of young German girls, who seem to hate Pippi as much as I do.

8. IsarSteve - December 18, 2008

I am unfortunate enough not to know any gay men much older than myself

I knew you’d forgotten all about me..

9. narrowback - December 19, 2008

IS – personally, I took it as a backhanded compliment

10. bowleserised - December 20, 2008

I thought you were supposed to take your mother to gay tea dances? At least, that’s what a friend of mine with three young sons is hoping. She’s pretty sure the middle one is gay and will take her out for a plate of sandwiches, fancy cakes and a twirl round the dance floor once a week when she’s in her dotage.

11. BiB - December 22, 2008

B., I’ve never taken my mother to a dance, although I might have danced with her at a family wedding. Though I can’t remember doing so at the last one a few years back, come to think of it. I did take her (and others) to The Edge in Soho once but it was warm enough to sit outside and she refused to go in unless she instantly got lesbianated.

Narrowback, Steve, of course I meant oodles older than any of us. I’m talking old couples here. My parents’ age. My ex met a couple at a party who’d been together for 40-something years and were late 60s and early 80s. They could have solved the dancing quandary, I bet! And Steve, of course I hadn’t forgotten you. And I’m glad to see, thanks to trusty old Google Reader – mind you, I slightly hate having a reader. It’s ruined the spontaneity of blog-reading and now I feel bullied every time I switch the computer on and it tells me to read 400 blog-posts now – that you are back in the blogging way.

d.z., you’re right. The video isn’t well made. But I think it really is her, and I think she’s still got some decent life in them bones for 65. I’m sure my mother was complaining about climbing stairs long before she’d got to her mid-60s (mind you, the vid’s from a few years ago). Pippi Longstocking has very much passed me by. Is she the sort of literature that might have got read to the girls while the boys were being taught to play football?

12. IsarSteve - December 22, 2008

Thanks for caring.. I did read your mail..

13. BiB - December 22, 2008

I hope life is being good to you and that you’re full of the Christmas spirit. Maybe I should turn on the fairy lights draped over our Billy – an item of furniture. Not a Liverpudlian relative – to get me out of my work-induced funk.

14. d.z. bodenberg - December 22, 2008

I think Ms Longstocking is much more popular in Germany (and Sweden from where she hails) than in the UK, though there is a very cheap cartoon series that has probably been shown on Channel 5. It’s the children’s book for the girls of lifestyle-anarchist parents who want their child to declare to their careers adviser, 10 years later, that they want to become an anti-vivisectionist or squatter, “and do you have a leaflet about it”? Basically it’s about teaching girls to tell adults to piss off and letting them do what they like, regardless (within reason), and is certainly much preferable to Enid Blyton, though I did hear some programme on Radio 4 the other month where they tried to rehabilitate her as an anti-establishment anti-sexist anti-racist. Whether the argument was convincing or not, I don’t know, as I swiftly fell asleep.

Such parents (those who adore Pippi & Co.) also call their daughters “Ronja” (another character in the series), as even they know that calling them “Pippi” would just be too cruel.

15. BiB - December 23, 2008

Mind you, d.z., Pippi at least wouldn’t have the wee-wee association for most people in Britain, would it? Though I imagine it would still be considered silly-enough-sounding to get the piss ripped out of a child named Pippi by other children anyway.

Speaking of children’s literature I know nothing about, Judith Kerr was on Woman’s Hour yesterday. Had never heard of her but a good biography. Whole family got out of Berlin, she says, literally not a day too soon in 1933. A day later and she thinks they’d have been killed. (Her father was wanted.) And, most importantly of all, she’s got a Berlin school named after her.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: