My friend K and I went to see Burlesque last night. Despite the fact the Christina Aguilera is about as believable as the fresh-faced, naïve ingénue from
Iowa as Cher herself would be, it was spectacular. Now, you don’t go to a movie like this expecting a plot without holes or Oscar-worthy method acting a la Natalie Portman. You go because you want to see gratuitously flashy dance sequences and contrived plots about girls with dead mothers (always with the dead mothers in these movies!) chasing their big campy dreams and ending up with guys who look like this. You go because you already know from the Devil Wears Prada exactly how much fun gay Stanley Tucci is. You go because Cher.
These movies are good in the bad way, bad in the good way and I LOVE them all. Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Step Up (1,2 and 3) and my perennial favorite Dirty Dancing, which takes the form to its highest art. These films know their audience and they play to it. We want a relatable heroine and an improbably hot male lead with a sensitive side, preferably who rides a motorcycle. We want any conflicts resolved with a dance-off and maybe some oh-snap one-liners and some hair-pulling.
Partly I just love these films because like all of those orphaned girls from the wrong side of the tracks who have suspiciously shiny hair for being so impoverished, secretly I just want to dance.
I never took dance lessons a kid, I was too busy with tennis when I was a teenager and since I was the kind of little girl who refused to wear dresses and had scabbed knees most of the time, I wasn’t exactly a natural fit for something like ballet class. But I do have several dance related items on my list (#7—learn tango, #9—compete a dance competition, #26—take a belly-dancing class) because in my adult life I’ve come to love dance: it’s been my go-to in hard times and in new towns.
When I first moved to
I didn’t know anyone who lived there, not one person. I was as lonely and miserable as I could imagine being for the first six months. Things finally turned around for me when I was temping as a receptionist in a financial office and met a lovely girl named Gina who, when she wasn’t working in the office, ran a salsa studio. I started taking classes almost daily and at last I had something to do, somewhere to meet people. And it was just. So. Much. Fun. When I moved back to New York late last year, the first thing I did was find out where and when the good salsa nights went on. Seattle
There’s something amazing about knowing a dance and meeting other strangers who know it too; it creates an instant feeling of community and belonging. One of the things I love about the salsa scene is the sheer diversity of the people who do it; on any given night there are people of every race, every age and every socio-economic background imaginable on the floor. You learn quickly not to judge on looks—that sleek looking hottie might be a total beginner who will wrench your arm on turns and that 68 year old bus driver from
who is 5’3 might be the best dance you have all night. Dance can be a great equalizer that way; when you’re out there on the floor, it really is all about your moves. Just like in the movies. Ecuador
Are you a wallflower or the last one to leave when the band packs up?