STRIKE A POSE
HOW MEN SHOULD REALLY DANCE
Michael Jackson liked to ‘Shake his Body’ and Billy Idol would ’Dance on his Own’. Lady Gaga says ‘Just Dance’. Few men can La Bomba like Ricky Martin, but Guru’s resident groovster James Lloyd eYplains how a guy’s dance floor grind can wow the women.
This Valentine’s Day, romance will be on the minds of many men around the world. But how should a man go about wooing that special girl or guy of his dreams? Well, get your glad rags out guys: according to research published last year, an impressive display of dancing may be one way to win someone’s heart, as James Lloyd explains... It’s a common scenario. You’re at a wedding reception, the speeches are over, and a DJ starts doing his thing in the corner of the room, obscured by a wall of tacky disco lights. Before long, the complimentary champagne begins to work its magic on the revellers. A mildly inebriated Auntie Valerie is the first to wander onto the dance floor, deciding that a slightly dented reputation is a small price to pay for having a good time. Uncle Bob is next to follow, loosening his tie and rolling up his sleeves the minute he hears the opening blasts of ‘ Y.M.C.A.’. Meanwhile, the best man – let’s call him Dave – has his eye on one of the bridesmaids, Emily. Hugging his warm pint of Heineken, Dave looks longingly at Emily as she glides across the dance floor like a swan on roller skates. Feeling ever more tipsy, he puts down his beer and shuffles towards her. Suddenly, ‘ Y.M.C.A.’ gives way to the moody drum and bass intro of ‘Billie Jean’. Dave spots his chance. Moving deftly through the throng of dancers, he positions himself opposite Emily and begins to engage in a mating ritual worthy of any bird of paradise. Completely oblivious to the onlooking crowd, Dave bends his torso from side to side like a man possessed, simultaneously shaking his head to the beat whilst performing an elaborate twisting routine with his right knee. The ritual seems to have worked: 30 minutes later both he and Emily are locked in a romantic embrace, gently swaying to ‘Lady in Red’ amidst a sea of teary-eyed couples. Dave’s secret? He’s familiar with a recent article in Biology Letters, which shows that certain dance moves are more likely than others to ignite the passions of a woman. Nick Neave and colleagues at Northumbria University and the University of Göttingen used motion-capture technology to record
the movements of 19 men dancing to a basic drum beat. Each dancer was then mapped onto a computer-generated avatar, and 37 heterosexual women were asked to rate the avatars on their dancing prowess. By correlating the women’s ratings with the avatars’ movements, the scientists were able to come up with a recipe for successful boogieing. The three factors that contributed most strongly to a high dance score were ‘neck internal/ external rotation variability’ (head shaking), ‘trunk adduction/abduction variability’ (sideways bending) and ‘right knee internal/ external rotation speed’ (twisting speed). These movements, claims the study, may provide signals of a man’s suitability as a sexual partner by indicating his physical strength, health, fitness, and/or genetic quality. According to Neave and his colleagues, dance in humans is “a set of intentional, rhythmic, culturally influenced, non-verbal body movements that are considered to be an important aspect of
sexuality and courtship attraction”. This links us to wolf spiders, manakin birds, and seahorses (amongst other animals), all of whom perform courtship displays to entice members of the opposite sex (see sidebox: ‘Nature’s movers and shakers’). So, men, if you’re looking to woo on the dance floor, then you can’t do much better than shaking your body like the proverbial Polaroid picture. And don’t forget to twist those knees like there’s no tomorrow…* *NB: Guru does not accept any responsibility for minor injuries, deflated egos, or red-faced humiliation suffered as a result of this article. Dancing is to be undertaken solely at the reader’s discretion.
Neave, N., et al. (2011). Male dance moves that catch a woman’s eye. Biology Letters, 7: 221-224.