Dad Dancing: hitting middle-aged men with the rhythm stick
The Edge and Prince William have been ridiculed for their lack of style, but evolution laughs at all dance-floor dads
Livin’ on a wing and a prayer: Prince William singing with Taylor Swift and Jon Bon Jovi, the only person who can sing that song ironically, at Kensington Palace this week. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
It hits all men, apparently. During their youth, music treats their bodies as a companion, a welcoming host, a medium through which to express itself to the glitterballed world. That they can’t dance doesn’t matter. They are young. That is what counts.
Then it happens. One night, one song. The DJ strikes up Get Lucky. Sex on Fire pops up on the radio. They hit the dancefloor, the kitchen floor, wherever. They feel like a graceful synergy of tempo and physical fluidity. Until someone – usually a child, or partner – groans. They are informed that they are an embarrassment, that they look like a man being attacked by a swarm of wasps. While having 23 simultaneous strokes. During an exorcism.
They are Dad Dancers.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it happens. You certainly don’t have to be a dad. It’s not that the moment a baby comes screaming into your life you lose all sense of rhythm, as if musically triggered motor skills are a great sacrifice necessary to bring new life into the universe. Middle-aged men without children are no greater dancers. They are just as likely to hit the dancefloor as an amalgam of one of the Thunderbirds and John Hurt with an alien bursting from his chest.
And that’s it. The rhythm years are over. You are a Dad Dancer. You are a flailing, lock-limbed eejit. An embarrassment to your partner, a scourge to your kids’ sensibilities. Cool has fled your body.
You now have two choices. Either you go for it and become the kind of guy comfortable to revel in this shift into the wrong gear, to hell with what the world thinks. Or you become horribly self-aware, suddenly conscious of your every missed step and ill-timed shoulder waggle. Either way, you are still a Dad Dancer. You never had a choice in that.
This week, Prince William and the Edge – both dads, only one of them middle-aged – were brought up on stages to join in celebrity singalongs for charity. Both left as globally acknowledged Dad Dancers, their efforts plastered on YouTube for the world to laugh at.
Prince William was performing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer. Everyone knows that only Jon Bon Jovi can do that song in an unironic way. Unfortunately, William was standing beside Jon Bon Jovi at the time.
The Edge, meanwhile, appeared on stage with Nile Rodgers and Bono. During a blast of Good Times, he was all stiff shoulders and toddler claps. It took a moment to realise what was going on there: he was on stage without his guitar. He was missing his partner, lacking his counterweight. He was surrounded by people on the stage, but he was alone, dancing to the staccato beat of the world’s sniggers.