Shall We Dance?

“What? You haven’t seen Swing Kids?!”

“You don’t watch So You Think You Can Dance? Shouldn’t that be your favorite TV show?”

“How can you call yourself a dancer if you haven’t seen Strictly Ballroom?”

Being a dancer is more than just knowing the steps. There are certain expectations other dancers have regarding the dancing culture: namely that you have to watch all of the great dance-related movies.

It’s similar to how college students are expected to watch Animal House, or how teachers have all seen Stand and Deliver.

For my part, I’ve been rather lax about acculturating myself into the dance scene. I asked my dancing friends for an essential movies list, this week, and the response was enormous. I guess I never realized how few movies I’d watched. The only dance-related movies I’d seen up until recently were Dirty Dancing and Take the Lead. It was clear this hardly sufficed, so I tossed Strictly Ballroom and Shall We Dance? (the Japanese original) into my Netflix queue.

As I watched these movies, I wondered whether I would have enjoyed them as much a couple years ago – before I was a dancer. They’re certainly good movies, but suspect part of their appeal is the familiarity of the subject. I can relate to the characters who struggle to get the steps right, and I rejoice in their eventual successes. I’ve been in their dance shoes; I know what it feels like. And in a sense I guess I’m reliving those moments while I watch.