Saturday, April 19, 2008

White People Dancing

Between my recent reintroduction to Arthur Brown and this week's revision of OMD over at Pitchfork, I've spent the past few jetlag-addled days marveling over the physics-defying gyrations of which the human body is capable. Now, I believe in a binary ultimatum - you either make music, or you move to it - and live by the former. That, however, does not mean that I don't appreciate some fancy footwork as much as the next fellow. And these days, everyone's getting a little footloose, since Dave Chappelle so guilelessly made the case that, yes, folks that aren't black can dance. (Not to mention the supposed & apparent death of irony in indie-rock which had stilted so many students' confidence on the dance floor.) True, there remain certain earmarks for objectively "good" dancing (e.g. grace, balance, pacing) but I've always admired those who throw caution, dignity, and themselves to the wind. It just so happens that many such characters are, in fact, white. Blame it on physiology: they just ain't got the hips to crump properly.

Now, there are certain qualifiers and caveat I must offer upfront. For starters, as much as I'm hypnotized by the beserker Dervish whirls perfected by the Dillinger Escape Plan, it's become so ubiquitous as to be uninteresting. Also, I acknowledge that, despite the post title White People Dancing, two Japanese made it onto the list. This is because if you want people who make white folks look like they've got five-hundred-pounds-per-square-inch of pure funk in their feet, look at the Japanese. Seriously, even their hip-hop dancing mysteriously prioritizes the upper body above the lower. As for latino Omar Rodriguez-Lopez' presence... well, who do you think listens to the Mars Volta? White people!

Finally, yes, a number of these videos are reposts, and I don't give a crap. I'm operating on a time zone eight-thousand miles west of my current location, so sue me if I'm not up to full speed.

1. Guy Picciotto of Fugazi

With all the power of a pentecostal and the effete hip-swivelling of a Meredith Monk fan.

2. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of (then) At the Drive-In

Certainly, Cedric Bixler-Zavala has some mighty fancy moves of his own, but as frontman he obviously focuses more on making slick, big statements, whereas Omar's muse is, uh, less filtered.

3. Arthur Brown

What makes this even more absurd is to consider how vastly influential Brown was in the long term. Go down the list: Druidically-dressed doom-obsessees, spooky facepaint, skinny & sinewy dudes throwing shirtless shitfits, etc. Even the Red Hot Chili Peppers donned flaming helmets for their stint on Lollapalooza '92.

4. Ian Curtis of Joy Division

The obvious choice for fans of spazoid indie-nerd dancing everywhere. Unfortunately, the Curtis dance craze never caught on because, in fairness, you have to be an epileptic to move like that.

5. Andy McCluskey of OMD

Ian Curtis a la Molly Ringwald.

6, Damo Suzuki of Can

Bonus points for the bellbottomed unitard on this one.

7. Ian Svenonius of (then) Nation of Ulysses

Master of a modified James Brown technique, involving periods of calm punctuated by bursts of raw soul power.

8. Nick Cave

Seen here with the almighty Birthday Party - in diapers no less! I confess this selection was made not the least because this infernal mindfuck of a video deserves to be seen more widely. But shellshocked shuck-'n'-jive that Cave busts out (and continues to, to this day) is the best smack-addled softshoe around.

9. Mark Manley in The American Astronaut

Apparently, the manner in which Manley busts loose in this scene were not choreographed: this is basically what he did during his audition, and who wouldn't put a man with moves like that in a movie?

10. This chick

Actually, after watching this again, she's unarguably number one. And my god, imagine what's she's like in the sack. Kids, don't do drugs!

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