Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Billy Idol and Interpretive Dance

I think if I cut my hair really short and spiked it out and wore studded black leather, I would look like Billy Idol. As it stands, I think I look more like Dee Snyder in his Twisted Sister days, especially when I take my hair out of a braid and brush it. I've decided that my alter-ego is 80's male rock star: excess ego, excess money, excessive vocal styles, excessive guitar solos, excessive destructive habits... everything to the Nth degree. There are only a few people who know how much enjoyment I get out of 80's hair bands for those very reasons. They are so ridiculous but somehow so entertaining.

I had a particularly enjoyable drive to work today because of one such rock star: the aforementioned Billy Idol. Everything about him was (and I stress was because even though he's still alive, he merits the past tense) cliché... contrived even. That whole bad boy image? Sid Vicious had already done it in a much more real, and much scarier way. Even the snarl was unoriginal. However, there is one gem from Billy's repertoire: Dancing With Myself. To be fair, the lyrics are pretty ridiculous at first glance, but (and perhaps this is only my interpretation of them) they ring true with me. Let's examine, shall we?

With the record selection
With the mirror reflection
I'm dancing with myself

This just makes me laugh. The image that pops into my head is Billy Idol dancing in front of some huge ornate mirror in his rock star house to his favorite embarassing record. Something like Wham! or Culture Club, i.e. not hardcore. And he's just going for it, doing the splits, head-banging, just rockin' out to this completely incongruous music. And maybe not everyone has done this, but I know that I have. In my car, in my room, while I'm washing my car... sometimes a song that is ridiculous just takes you away.

When there's no-one else in sight
In the crowded lonely night ...
Well there's nothing to lose
And there's nothing to prove
I'll be dancing with myself

All I have to say about this is "right on, Billy!" When you're dancing like that to a song that you and you alone love, you have nothing to prove and nothing to lose by totally giving in to the moment.

If I looked all over the world
And there's every type of girl
But your empty eyes
Seem to pass me by
Leave me dancing with myself

Again, I think this is right on. Why dance with someone or (in the larger sense) be with someone or share music with someone if they don't connect to you. Maybe the taste in music's not the same and maybe it's not your favorite song to dance to, but there could still be a connection between two people. And what's the point if the eyes of your partner are empty or searching the room for something better. I'd rather dance by myself any day than dance with someone who didn't care.

As it happens, these are pretty much all the lyrics there are in the song. There is another line about Billy kicking back a drink so he'll have time to think... and I think that's pretty funny too. The big, snarling stage presence is in the corner drinking because he needs time to think about who to ask to dance. Are we a little shy, Billy? Or maybe he's just taking his time, searching for the right person to dance with. Either way, it's a strange but good image.

Yes, the song is repetitive, and pop-o-rific, and manufactured. The rhymes are forced and the lyrics trite. But it doesn't stop it from being an interestingly shallow, yet somehow insightful song about being alone and how sometimes that's okay.

Thanks Billy, for an unexpected and fun addition to the world of pop music. The last line of the song (repeated many times) is "If I had the chance I'd ask the world to dance". I love this line. Billy's not gonna stop dancing for anyone and he's gonne keep searching until he finds the right dance partner. In closing, I would like to pay tribute to this song and especially this last line in the form of places I would like to travel and dances I would like to do there... alliterated, of course.

Boogie in Budapest
Get Jiggy in Japan
Tango in Tunisia
Mambo in Morocco
Cha-cha in Chile
Bunny-hop in Brazil
Lambada in Luxembourg
Flamenco in Fiji
Samba in South Africa (world cup 2010 anyone?)
Gavotte in Germany
Contra Dance in the Cote d'Ivoire
Rumba in Russia
Martinique Beguine in... Martinique

Where did I find all these dance names? here
(But I knew some of them thanks to ballroom classes my Mom and Dad took and Cotillion.)
It's kind of interesting to see all the dance names and descriptions.

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