The Knack (and how to get it)
Weddings are tests of diplomacy at which a dance can be an act of war. You must get it right. No other set of circumstances brings together so many tenuously connected strangers, puts them in a giant tent, fills them with wine and subjects them to the music of Mr Chris de Burgh.
If you dance – and you must dance – it will likely be to music you loathe. By your side will be any combination of best friends, old enemies, loved ones, confused pensioners and hyperactive children, and you must adapt. What began as a slow clench with an amorous bridesmaid to the sensual tones of Mr Marvin Gaye might devolve into doing “The Time Warp” with a four year old. Unlike any other area of your life, the key here is to try and please everyone.
By Mr David Whitehouse, mrporter.com
01 Pick your Moment
This is a wedding, meaning the track list might as well have been chosen by a dog. Always enter the floor at the very beginning of a song you like, or can at least bear. This will buy you at least three minutes to find your groove before the DJ pulls out a tune so criminally awful it could be used to illegally extract money from a bank.
You need to stride in confidently, which won’t happen if, halfway through your approach, they drop one of Mr Phil Collins’ classics, forcing you to do the “Whoops, I forgot my wallet” sideways crab shuffle back to your table.
02 Play it Safe
No one ever danced well while drunk… but dancing at a wedding isn’t about dancing well. Approach it like you might a game of crazy golf. You’re not there to get around the course with a record score; you’re meant to be having unselfconscious fun while doing something that outwardly looks totally stupid.
Anything other than a conventional wedding shuffle singles you out as a show-off. Doing “the worm”, for example, will confound the bride’s parents. Basically, dance humbly and with manners. This isn’t a return to the halcyon days of your clubbing youth. If you can’t do it to the music of Abba, it has no place here.
03 Grab a Partner
Weddings are about coming together, and so you must. With absolutely everyone. If the groom’s grandmother, who’s probably so old that she’s biologically closer to a tortoise than a human, wants to dance, you dance. If the bride’s five-year-old niece insists that you drop to the floor for Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five”, thus disintegrating the knees on your new suit trousers, you drop.
The wedding dance is a utopia of sorts: it doesn’t recognise age or ability. The law of the day dictates that the groom is the coolest man in the room, so you sitting in the corner nursing a glass of champagne and refusing to enter into some cross-generational shape-throwing to “Maggie May” is totally unacceptable. Work the room.
04 Know your Moves
The following three situations could easily arise, and you will be expected to join in. Do so, but with these tips ringing in your ears.
• Mr Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is played. It is a cruel irony that one of history’s more stylish men begat a song most often met by circles of drunk people kicking their legs dangerously high into the air and pulling muscles. Take part but proceed with caution. Someone will get hurt, but don’t be the perpetrator.
• The Conga. Ah, mankind’s most heinous creation. Certainly never start one, and if one does occur you need to be at the back where you can escape.
• A dance that involves “doing the actions”. Avoid. Learn to recognise the opening bars of the likes of “Superman” or “Oops Upside Your Head”. Doing the actions isn’t dancing – it’s charades. This is a rare circumstance in which you, as a grown man, are excused from the floor.
05 Know When to Stop
Find out in advance what time the music is supposed to end. This is a wedding, and the end of a wedding means one thing: the slow dance. Five minutes before this allotted time, take a second to (soberly) have a look around you. Do you actually want to slow dance with any of these people? The time for charitably swinging the bride’s mother around has passed. This is a time for romance.
If you are not with a partner yourself, remaining on the floor means you must take one and hold them tenderly for the seemingly seven-hour duration of Ms Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On”. Think carefully, for that, my friend, is the groom’s aunty. How much do you value your friendship with the betrothed?
SOME COMMON MISTAKES
NOT GROWING UP It was funny when you and the groom pretended to be Wham at university. It’s not funny now.
TRYING TO BE THE DJ Believe it or not, even if the music is the audible equivalent of what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, it is what the majority of the people at the wedding want. Put the iPod back in your pocket.
FORGETTING THE OCCASION You’re most probably drunk, you’ve been dancing for too long and you’re hot. This is no excuse for a jacket-off, shirt-un-tucked, tie-loosened scenario. This isn’t your school disco.
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