When People Dance

(1860's Hardshell Cafe, Soulard)

Sep 3, 2008 at 4:00 am

A clutch of drunken baby boomers fall through the sweaty door, a cartoonish ensemble of bright Technicolor floral patterns mixed with dusty pink and silvery hair on a bleary night out. Their dancing has the heartbreaking grace of the familiar. They've grown accustomed to each other, these couples; their movements are like memories. One man, dancing alone, takes a few clumsy steps, then spills to the floor. All you can see are his feet sticking upward as his friends, all sympathetic smiles, scramble to the rescue.

Meanwhile the lanky appendages of a very tall gent (much younger than the boomers) swirl and shift with the soulful sounds of Cheryl Brown and her funky backup band. A short girl wants to dance with him. She climbs up on a stool so their heights are just about equal. How ingenious people are at overcoming the awkward differences between them.

Very few people are any good at dancing. Since most of us aren't, it only takes being a little better than average to seem really good among a crowd of people dancing badly. The better dancers are less interesting to watch, anyway. They've polished away the really truthful self-acknowledgements, thereby becoming less sincere. Rarely are people more honest than when they're dancing badly.