I Can’t Dance

“How can I take her out dancing, if I don’t know how to dance” said Jim to his friend Bob while they were at the antique book store.  Bob replied, “Most of the people on a dance floor are doing basic, simple, repetitive steps and you can do this if you build up your confidence.  Dancing is always done with music, so you must feel the beat, and everyone feels awkward the first time that they dance.  Some people spend years taking dancing lessons and they are still uncomfortable dancing in front of others.  The people who are out there dancing are too busy worrying that they won’t make a mistake, so you won’t have to worry about them judging you.  Practice will help, but you can’t get into the rhythm of the music till you can discern the beat.”

Jim said, “I listen to a lot of music, but I am not sure what the beat is.”  Bob said, “Beat is the length of time which each note is played, which supplies the underlying pattern of a song.  Since the best way to track time is with a clock, you can think of the ticking sound of a clock.  The ticking of a clock is consistent and so is the beat of a song.  Although you don’t normally hear the clock ticking unless the room that you are in is really quiet and you intentionally focusing your concentration on that sound, finding the beat of a song is similar to that.  Once you can recognize the beat in a song, that means you have found the pattern and speed of the music.  Once you master this, every other element of music will be under your control.  A beat is a pulse of time that is measured in a unit called beat duration, it can change and that means that you are changing the tempo of the beat.”

Jim said, “Wait, this is getting complicated.”  Bob replied, “There are many elements to music, but the better you can understand it the more natural you will look trying to dance to it.  You just need to know a few things and since the fixed number of beats in a song is changeable, this means that you need to know what Time Signature is, so that you know how the music is to be counted.  This is illustrated as a fraction with the top number telling you how many beats there are in one measure.   The bottom number tells you what kind of note is considered one beat.”

Jim said, “Look Bob you can’t introduce a new word to me and explain it with other new terms, like you did with beat adding these two new words of measure and note.”   Bob said, “You make a good point Jim, so let me try and simplify this for you, most music is organized in regular rhythmic patterns of strong and weak beats.  Beats are grouped into bars, which also called measures.  Music is organized with consistency and structure to give you rhythm.  The tempo and the beat create a sort of skeleton on which you build a rhythm, a pattern of pulses that can be regular or irregular, but they will always bear some mathematical relation to the beat.  The rhythm is expressed in music as notes, which tells the musician what pitch to play and how long and how often to play them.  That is it for today with your music lesson, now we move onto dancing.”

Jim said, “Fine and I don’t need to look like Fred Astaire or John Travolta out there, I just want to be able to blend in when I am dancing.”  Bob said, “Good idea and in order for you to blend in with 80% of people on the dance floor, you need to do a combination of a few simple moves.  We better start with the top of your body and work are way down from there.  Try to nod your head subtly, not like you are a bobble-head or anything that resembles being jerky, just try to feel the groove.  Then move your shoulders with the beat and think simple, repetitive arm movements.  You could throw in a clap or maybe just snap your fingers, or possibly try subtly waving your arms back and forth.  No huge movements, remember that you are trying to blend.  Move your hips back and forth with the rhythm and bounce on your knees a little bit.  Try not to look like you are jumping up and down on a pogo-stick, just take small steps from side to side.  You don’t have to do all of these moves, but you need to be able to coordinate the movement of your head, with your shoulders, arms, hands, hips, knees and feet.  Once you feel comfortable moving one part of your body then go on to the next.  You need to combine your movements, because if you just stand there bouncing up and down, or you are just waving your arms, you’ll look silly.  The most important thing to remember when you are dancing is that you are doing this because it is fun, so go out there and get grooving.”

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #186 image prompt.

13 thoughts on “I Can’t Dance

  1. Informative, since I can’t sing or dance either 😀😀.

    Indian weddings have a music-and-dance event prior to the main ceremony. Choreographers are engaged to teach all uncles and aunts to shake a leg for 3-4 min on stage. The youngsters are growing up doing it.

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