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Clapping will save us all!

November 16, 2011

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.

Of course, this reminds me of my list of the five most awkward dance songs ever, brought to you by those splendid gymnasium dances of my formative years.

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.

“I see a little silhouetto of a man . . .

. . . 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.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. Kana Tyler permalink
    November 16, 2011 12:22 pm

    Wow, flashback time! I, too, spent rather too much time in the bathroom, inexplicably so in my case, since I was the only one of my classmates who didn’t have a makeup-compact to resort to, and there wasn’t much “fixing” to be done with my braids and knee socks (shudder)… In retrospect, I probably didn’t need to be hiding to escape the dance floor… ;)

    • November 16, 2011 9:13 pm

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one in the bathroom. I swear that I would’ve loaned you some of my compact powder had I ran into you in there. Though you probably had a lot of other stuff to take care of — because knee socks are totally high maintenance, always falling down and all. Thanks for reading, Kana.

  2. November 16, 2011 3:00 pm

    Great blog–or should I say “writing”? (There is a difference everybody). I like the angle of awkward dancing tunes as opposed to straight up cheese. I LOVE Peter Gabriel, and I love it when the Indian/Africian dude starts wailing. Thanks for reminding me to listen to it right now!

    • November 16, 2011 9:10 pm

      Yes, that song is a good one. I also love me some Peter Gabriel. With the exception of Sledgehammer, mainly because I loathed the California Raisins type of claymation thing as seen in his “cutting edge” Sledgehammer video.

      What’s a blog? More importantly, can WordPress yank my account for trying to market my site as a blog? Oops.

  3. November 16, 2011 5:44 pm

    The main question I have is this:
    Did the November Rain cause Axl’s face to change so drastically that he’s completely unrecognizable at this point?

    • November 16, 2011 9:04 pm

      Since I don’t have cable and I hadn’t seen pictures of him for a while, after reading your comment I Googled him, which led me to Wikipedia which led me to the most enthralling bio about a washed up rock star that I’ve read in quite a while.

      The short answer to your question, yes.

  4. November 17, 2011 7:01 am

    Great one, sis. I thought of #4 as soon as I realized your theme. And for those even older timers how about “Stairway To Heaven”. The theme of everyone’s late 70’s prom.

  5. November 17, 2011 8:58 am

    Clap………clap………clap………..clap….clap….clap….clap clap clap clap clap!

    Baby Soft perfume! Hahahaha! How do you remember all of this?

    (Also, I just caught that Animals and Snow clipping! LOVE IT!)

    • November 17, 2011 6:07 pm

      If you click on the clipping you can read the dreadful story behind it.

      I consider it my calling to help people remember the things they’d hoped to forget, which includes their adolescent drug store perfume.

  6. November 17, 2011 9:03 am

    lol, had to listen to the Peter Gabriel song. Here is a song I listened to all the time in high school:

    Makes me want to do some damage to The Man, yo.

    Your blog is so much fun.

    • November 17, 2011 6:11 pm

      How did you happen to post My All-Time Favorite Dance Song? How? Seriously. Next to A-ha’s Take On Me, there is perhaps no other song that helps me get my Molly Ringwald groove on like this song! I’m Breakfast Club chair-dancing as I type this.

  7. November 18, 2011 10:21 am

    I loved the Baby Soft reference! Oh, god those were the stinky days…Love all the songs, too. Paradise by the Dashboard Light! ohhhhhh man! I clapped a lot at my dances.

    “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.”

    Oh, no! That wasn’t me! I was the one standing off by myself trying to fight back the tears because I wanted John to ask me to dance and instead Ty kept bugging me to dance and then I heard John asked Gina instead of me and then I sobbed and sobbed and ran into the bathroom where all my friends could circle around me and commiserate at what a jerk John is. Sigh. Good times, my friend. I don’t remember a single time when I actually danced at a junior high dance.

    • November 19, 2011 8:12 pm

      I love that dance story you shared, though it makes me weep inside to read of what a horrific love triangle you endured. It helps to talk about it, doesn’t it? I bet John is kicking himself right now. By the way, if this was a John Hughes movie, I’d have to ask you if Ty’s nickname was Duckie.

      • November 21, 2011 6:14 am

        Y’know, Ty did look a lot like Duckie. Wait a minute, was I Molly Ringwald back then and didn’t even know it?

      • November 21, 2011 9:07 pm

        Yeah, I was just thinking how there are no Molly Ringwald characters in teen movies today. What a shame.

  8. November 21, 2011 7:18 am

    Baby Soft. Oh my. Just thinking about it makes me want to perm my hair.

  9. January 16, 2012 11:12 pm

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    This post on its own deserves that merit – hilarious and pitch perfect.

    G’n’R did ROKK back then. I hid the Appetite for Destruction album cover from my mother 20 years ago, and it’s still hidden from my kids now in 2012…

    Keep up the good work

  10. LaVonna permalink
    January 19, 2012 12:32 pm

    I bet one problem was that you couldn’t even clap on the beat!!!! Ha! Ha!!!

  11. skynyrdgyrl81 permalink
    March 5, 2012 8:39 pm

    This post totally makes me think of that “Freaks and Geeks” episode where they are dancing to “Come Sail Away” by Styx. Awkward. On a side note, my brother loved Meatloaf and is the only person I’ve ever known who knew the whole dialogue to “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

    • March 5, 2012 8:50 pm

      I know that Freaks and Geeks episode oh-so well! In fact, I’ve heard that song a few times since I saw that episode and immediately feel my stomach tightening.

      Your brother must be a musical savant!

  12. August 17, 2012 8:44 am

    Ha, I also hung out in the bathroom with a friend, but that was so we could watch all the popular girls sobbing about their boyfriends while they sprayed their fountain hair to new heights.

    • August 20, 2012 11:00 am

      Fountain hair — why couldn’t I have coined that phrase back in the day? It would’ve come in handy when I was called Ski Slope Nose.

  13. January 4, 2013 7:13 am

    Awesome blog! Wow…the 80’s were truly fantastic and those awkward dances are such a memory for me. You’d dance so stiffly, arms almost out straight. I remember when I finally learned to dance fluidly…it was 8th grade and I had on a huge t-shirt of some kind and probably leggings or maybe…gasp stirrup pants or something and suddenly I learned some kind of hip roll. Watch out!

    • January 10, 2013 4:14 pm

      We had a guy we nicknamed “The Snake” after our first boy-girl dance in 6th grade. He probably was the only one to slow-dance normal. And if stirrup pants make a comeback, we are all doomed. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Victoria.


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