As Eddie notes in the clip above, it’s long been known that people without colour lack rhythm. It’s a given. For as long as Chinese people have been smart, black people have had big lips and Latino’s quick tempers, white people couldn’t dance.
Particularly in the 1980s it seemed, where white dancing was more pervasive than ever due to the golden age of MTV, and the desire of movies to include dance scenes was consequently more prevalent more than ever before.
I feel somewhat maligned. While few white people turn out to be Rudolf Nureyev, we’re not all Lewis Skolnick’s either. Though media in the 1980s seems to have given others little choice in visualising us in any other way as the following examples ably illustrate:
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Molly Ringwold at the 25 second mark is exactly what Eddie Murphy refers to above.
Dancing In The Streets (1985)
So, as you can see it wasn’t all great tunes like Ashes to Ashes from the now dead icon. It was also ravaged Motown covers with dreadful dancing and mutual screaming thrown in. Surely, these two could have afforded choreography? Jagger in particular looks like someone’s hitting him from behind with a cattle prod. Laughing in the streets would be a more appropriate title.
Madonna Holiday (1983)
Holy fucking shit! How bad is this? The choreography is out of sync significantly and all three participants are not in time. Particularly Madonna’s brother Christopher on the left hand side.
Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (1984)
If there was a visual dictionary for archetypal 1980s white boy dancing it would be this clip. Although in all fairness George Michael had Cypriot heritage.
Ant Music (1982)
The origins of atrocious white dancing may be possibly traced back to this catchy slice of pop. On the heels of $5,000 worth of advice from Malcolm McLaren, Adam Ant created his highway man persona, two successful albums and this jaunty primer on how not to dance. That being said, this is one catchy tune and somehow, retains some of punk’s ‘fuck you’ spirit.
Dancing In The Dark (1984)
Apt title. Pretty much sums up awful honky dancing with shit music to boot. I don’t care what anyone says, Springsteen sucks. Never understood any level of his appeal.
This, along with Jane Fonda started some kind of honky dance/aerobics zeitgeist and whilst I can understand the appeal of a pretty girl in tight pants, both the music and dancing are terrible.
Oooooh so much angst… manifested in some of the gayest dancing this side of Glee. Seems 1984 was a great year for honky dancing. How this film became a classic for some people I’ll never know.
Probably seems wrong in light of his very recent death, but yes, this too deserves to be here. And when I see or hear this, I am reminded of the brillance of the movie version of The Rules of Attraction (2002). The only good Brett Easton Ellis adaptation.
Rock Me Tonite (1984)
This is everything Louis Farrakhan warned us of in the 1980s, and with good reason. Skip in to the 30 second mark to see moves that’ll put your drunken uncle to shame.
You Spin Me Round (1984)
Got the basic honky arm moves from 18 seconds onwards. It may be fucking terrible, but it’s undeniably upbeat.
Turning Japanese (1980)
Pretty archetypical honky dancing from the period. Bad dancing and vaguely racist to boot!
With evidence like this, it’s no wonder the rhythimically challenged white boy stereotype remains entrenched until this day. One day we will rise up on a dance floor and prove that not all our feet are left only. Perhaps.
Written and posted by Horatio Cornblower. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved.
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