1.23.2010

Dancing

One of the most interesting cultural differences we girls have encountered is the lack of the grind here in Ireland. [Note: If you’ve been off the dance floor for a decade or two, YouTube “grinding.”]

In an American nightclub, there are two kinds of dancing. There are the stand-alone dancers with their crew-type moves, those who don’t need others to camouflage them, those who can actually dance. Then there is the rest of the population that moves to the music in a random, jerky beat. Most common is two bodies sandwiched together to do this random jerk in unison—the grind. (Hence the age-old admonishment of schoolteachers to their prom-going pupils to “save room for Jesus.”)

But the primary Irish dance move is an awkward twitch halfway between the twist and some 1970’s jibe. In an American nightclub, a girl’s primary concern is keeping her dance partner’s hands from straying too far north or south. But here in Ireland, she must only make sure her dance partner doesn’t keep so much space between them that she cannot tell whether or not he has hands.

The repercussion of this strange difference wavers somewhere between annoyance and charm. The first hundred times he twirls you is cute. The third time an American girlfriend has to pluck his hands from outer space and place them around your waist is annoying.

Last night we went to a pub known for its “trad” (traditional music). We’re regulars and on our way to a first-name basis with the penny whistle player. Someone tried to make us get up and dance but when I said, “We don’t dance like that at home,” he agreed. He said, “Yeah, no bumping and grinding here.”

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