Clapping will save us all!
Last week it rained. In November. Every year with bated breath I wait for it — a November rain. Just so I can hear that song come on the radio and just so I can hear a witty deejay break in to let us know that the song is November Rain and we are having a November rain.
I love the whole adorable deejay bantering with us radio listeners thing! I love it like whiskers on kittens!
November Rain. The song that is – you know, Guns N’ Roses, remember those guys? Back from the era when rock was ROKK! I once thought that epic ballad was so beautiful it brought tears to my 15-year-old eyes. But then I tried to slow dance to it.
Most awkward dance song ever.
But, wait! Before I go any further, let’s get in the mood first, shall we? Ladies, how about a little spritz of Exclamation or Baby Soft perfume? And guys, how about running a dab of L.A. Looks hair gel through your skateboarder flop. Perfect.
Now take your places everyone! That’s right — cluster yourselves about around the outside of the room. And when someone asks you to dance, act surprised. You wanna what? Oh, yes, I guess that’s what we’re here to do. I got so caught up in this conversation about hair scrunchies that I scarcely noticed I was standing in a darkened gymnasium wearing prepubescent musk.
I hope to God you were in one of those clusters. I hope your place at the school dance wasn’t standing off by yourself looking straight at the action with a far off look of longing. Those poor pathetic saps.
My place was neither. My place was hiding in the bathroom. Although, I pretended I was there checking to make sure my skin was perfectly matte with pressed powder. It wasn’t of course. Are you kidding me, I was one enormous oil gland back then.
Now commence dancing.
1.) November Rain (Guns N’ Roses). The problem here is your average Joe run-of-the-mill one. It fools you by starting off soft, angst-filled and lovely before switching to a chainsaw-revving guitar solo for the ages. And this goes on for so, so long that you couldn’t simply continue to sway along and ignore it. No, something had to be done. You had to either 1.) Leave the dance floor immediately, or 2.) pull your arms off your beloved and break into headbanging. I raised my glass of Shasta cola to those daring kids who did just that. I was not one of them.
2.) In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel). Best teen movie song ever. I so badly wanted this song played at my wedding. I thought it’d be a splendid nod to the only other man I loved, John Cusack. When I was dancing with my new husband, I could pretend John was off standing in the background in a trenchcoat holding a boombox. “Always remember us.” I will John, I will.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Nope, get to the end of this song and you’ll know why it’s on my most awkward dance song list. That’s just about the time when the Kenyan and/or Icelandic singers break in and it becomes something else entirely. I tend to want to start clapping at that part, as a tension-breaker of a sort. It also makes me feel like I’m contributing something.
I can’t be sure but it sounds like one of the background singers chants, “It’s a bird . . . it’s a bird . . . pussycat, pussycat . . . a bird . . .” Whaaa?! Of course, my track record with song interpretation is pretty poor (see here).
In hindsight, we really should’ve went with it as our signature spotlight song. Then we could’ve brought the house down by closing the dance with Ronald Miller’s routine on the movie Can’t Buy Me Love (see here).
3.) Taking Care of Business (Bachman-Turner Overdrive). Everyone loves this song! Hooray! This song always gets the party started! Weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, you name it! Giddyup! Because there’s that whole clapping bit! And everyone loves to clap! That’s right – clapping is fun! But the problem is, this song is the most undanceable song (or most danceable, depending on your skill set) in the history of school dance music. It evokes the movements of a Neanderthal trudging through the frozen tundra. And it is oh-so repetitive. But, wait, then the clapping part comes in and saves us all! Yes, clapping gives us something to do with our awkward droopy ape arms and puts the smiles right back on our faces. Hooray!
4.) Paradise by the Dashboard Light (Meat Loaf). I loved to watch my classmates dance to this one and see what everyone decided to do when the song began to swim upstream. Oh, you couldn’t get me out there on this one. I have a mind like a steel trap and I knew the moment the dialogue kicked in, we were all screwed. And not like in a Paradise-by-the-Dashboard-Light sort of way.
“Look at this, he’s rounding first and . . . he’s safe at second base . . . holy cow I think he’s gonna make it . . . ”
When this part kicks in, signaling the start of the “down with virginity” debate, you’d realize you must either 1.) Leave the dance floor immediately, or 2.) Continue on as if you were acting out a rock opera. I’d award bonus points to the most theatrical and to those who employed the hand gestures of a major league baseball umpire.
5.) Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen). I got the pleasure of jamming to this at a lot of school dances thanks to the 1992 movie Wayne’s World, which rekindled the world’s love for Freddie Mercury. Again, how soon everyone forgets until they’re swaying along with their beloved that at some point the general direction of the song will change, the piano music will cease and the chanting dialogue set to electric guitar will begin.
. . . thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening me . . .
. . . Galileo. Galileo . . . ”
When this part kicked in, you’d realize you must either 1.) Leave the dance floor immediately, or 2.) Continue on as if you were acting out a rock opera set in medieval times. I’d award bonus points to the most theatrical and to those who employed the hand gestures of an executioner swinging a Viking axe.
Such physical awkwardness is excruciating for me to witness. It looks almost identical to the unforgettable time I saw a Conga line spontaneously break out at a bar during live music night. While everyone smiled, joined in and enjoyed themselves and their clever idea, fear flashed across their faces as they realized they were headed straight toward a room closed off for construction. Oh, dear God, what will we do? Disperse? Back it up? Reverse directions? It was painful watching the dilemma play out on in everyone’s horrified expressions.
My recommendation to them? Start clapping. Always. Clapping will save us all.