As someone who came of age in the 1960s, I often reflect on how different the lives of teenagers back then were from those of today.
Back then there seemed to be a new dance, usually named after an animal characterized as “Funky,” but sometimes identified by a nonce word–the Boogalo, the Shing-a-Ling, the Hucklebuck–to master and enjoy every month. Now there seem to be no new dances, other than those that kids learn by watching sex videos on the internet. Progress, this is not.
There was the Funky Chicken, the Funky Penguin (Parts 1 and 2) and the Funky Worm. There was Mickey’s Monkey, the Monkey and the Monkey Time–more fun than a barrel of monkeys! There was the Snake and the Gator. No actual animals were harmed in the performance of these dances, other than humans.
To my knowledge, the last recorded instance of a dance named after an animal that did–or did not–sweep the nation was “The Bird,” by Morris Day, released in 1984. I listened to it just this morning–it has much to recommend it.
It contains all the essential elements of a tune designed to launch a dance craze. The singer asks the audience whether they’ve heard of the new dance–they apparently have not–instructs them on its correct performance, then urges them to get out on the dance floor and do it. It is ecumenical in its approach; ladies, white folks, even Siamese Twins are separately urged to try the new dance.
International Space Station: “I see some kids in Shaker Heights doing the Frug, but that’s about it.”
Whatever happened to America’s innovative spirit? Astronauts aboard the International Space Station report only isolated instances of animal-themed teen dancing around the world, a fact with chilling portents for the future since there are more teenagers alive–right now–than at any time in human history!
The ’60’s, by contrast, were a period of almost constant teen dance innovation. “Killer” Joe Piro seemed to invent–or discover–a new dance every week, and he taught them to world leaders including the Duke of Windsor, the Maharani of Baroda, and Luci Baines Johnson. Don’t take my word for it–click on the link to his Wikipedia entry. There really is such a thing as a Maharani–and of Baroda, no less!
My suspicion is that animal-themed dances went the way of the dodo because parents were concerned that their offspring would follow the example of the many funky animals they were imitating and start procreating as soon as they reached the age of sexual maturity, long before they had completed the course work for an undergraduate degree in accounting. Teen pregnancy is fine for chickens, but not humans.
Which is where the Bdelloid Rotifer comes in. For those of you who do not read the little squibs of weird science that appear as fillers in major metropolitan newspapers, the Bdelloid Rotifer is an animal that has gone without sex for forty million years! There is absolutely no way that any funny stuff is going to happen if you dance like one.
So come on, everybody. Get up off your derrieres, get out of your chair-i-eres, and do the Funky Bdelloid Rotifer!
Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Dance Fever.”