Dancercise! …For Those With No Moves

The only way I can motivate myself to exercise until I sweatโ€”and I mean real, droplets-flinging-into-my-eyes-like-I-just-got-out-the-shower sweatโ€”is by dancing with wild abandon. And yet I have no rhythm. That’s why I keep the windows closed.

Wait…my blinds collapsed a month ago. Never mind that part.

My mom has rhythm. My dad doesn’t. It’s possible that my mom encouraged me to dance as a child, but at the time I was more interested in doing various sitting-related activities. And yet, years later, my high school principal, having seen me flail around at prom, announced to my entire graduating class, “Yesโ€”Joi can dance.”

I think receiving that compliment from a principal, of all people, is proof that I have no moves but I have boundless enthusiasm. And that’s the real recipe for success.

Some call it “dancing like nobody’s watching,” but I think we all know celebrities who, we’re convinced, have no moves. But they dance anyway. Who’s your pick? Could it be Mick Jagger? Or perhaps the Cheeky “Touch My Bum” Girls? At least these examples are dancing breathlessly, or with big smiles. That’s what we need when we want a change from Richard Simmons.

So here’s my personal, halfway-curated list of Amazing Music Videos To Dancercise To, ranked and ordered by Sweat Ratingโ€”my estimation of how much effort you’ll have to expend to dance adequately to them.

Or inadequately. All that matters is that you dance.

But first, a couple of Health Tips:

  • Dance on a carpet or an exercise mat. Shoes with cushioning can help. When I started my Dancercise Programme, I did it entirely on hardwood. I started to feel the mistake days later: aches in my ankles. Luckily, this faded after I took a break from dancing, but it just goes to show. And remember, you don’t even have to be leaping and creeping to start straining your ankles!
  • Drink water between (and potentially during) all of these music videos. You will need it, even for “Lady Bump”!

“I Can’t Dance – Genesis

Sweat Rating: 1/4

Damn. I can’t not include this. If you do a funny little walk during the whole videoโ€”or maybe just during the chorusโ€”you’re fulfilling the requirements here.

The last 30 seconds (where Phil Collins begins to really shimmy and shuffle) accelerate into Hard Mode, but you can return to that when you’re more experienced. It’s the Dancercise equivalent of going to Viridian City and looking out at Victory Road.

“Float On” – The Floaters

Sweat Rating: 1/4

Once upon a time, these men were the epitome of class. Today, they just remind me of the Lollipop Guild. That’s because I didn’t grow up immersed in what I believe a friend once called “four-to-five-guy powdered suit bands.” But my point still stands. They are reserved, they are square, they’re intoxicated by your stare.

Slow, simple moves are broken up by an occasional slide. As with all these videos, don’t worry about copying their moves beat for beat. Just copy their style. Copy their swagger.

Every time I see this one, it’s got me going, “Gemini…and my name is Joi. Now, I like a woman who reads my blog. And baby, if you fit that description…” And then I do a slippy-slide backward and almost hit the wall.

“Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (Growing Up Live)

Sweat Rating: 1/4

This is the less sweaty version of a live performance that would otherwise get you a 2 on the sweat charts.

What you do here is you watch him as he gets onstage and you grab a resistance band. Then you pump your arms and start crabwalking. After that, you walk to and fro while pumping your arms and pointing at the TV when Peter points at the audience. Then near the end, when he and his friends are “showing for you” and “kicking the habit,” you pull out the power moves.

“Lady Bump” – Penny McLean

Sweat Rating: 1/4

This is the bumpiest song I’ve ever heard.

Because I have excised most non-70s pop culture from my brain (and was raised by boomers), I’m aware that “the bump” as referred to here is not a hereditary disease, but instead a popular dance of the time. That said, I don’t think she’s doing it. Proof: she is not “bumping into” anything.

If you “groove” in place a little, then freeze and move your arms like a chicken when she hits that distressingly raspy high note, you’re golden.

Hey, did you know that this bumpy woman was a member of the Silver Convention?!??!?!?!

“Fly, Robin, Fly” – Silver Convention

Sweat Rating: 2/4

Here’s the thing about this group. Superficially, they would be my pick for Least Moves Of Any Dance Group. But when I actually try these steps, I’m confounded by my utter lack of coordination. When they pump their arms and jerk to and fro, they’re at least on time. But when I try to do it, I suddenly lack the motor skills I swear I can use to rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time.

My conclusion: this dance is to rhythm as walking in a straight line is to drunk driving. Only when I can glide around on timeโ€”only when I can pump my arms AND do a sideways jerky step simultaneouslyโ€”can I say I have developed any rhythm.

And that may never happen.

But I try it anyway, and so can you!

In any case, Silver Convention’s stiff and standardized moves give them a very one-and-two-and-type of movement that goes pretty well with dancercising. Similar moves exist for “Get Up and Boogie” and some song called “No, No, Joe.” There may be more. Go explore!

“Knock on Wood” – Amii Stewart

Sweat Rating: 2/4

It matters not at all if you get the moves rightโ€”here you can’t even see the moves. The camera is too busy zooming in and jittering and flashing the curly proto-digital effects in your face. But if you make a lot of big and swirly movements, and occasionally jitter while holding your arms out, you’ll feel like you got the moves. That’s the magic of it.

Also, it feels good and empowering to strike some kind of pose when the music goes, “WHAM!”

“Square Rooms” – Al Corley (Live)

Sweat Rating: 2/4

The true sweatiness of this video is gonna sneak up on you.

What you do with this song is either you get exactly two drumsโ€”so you can beat them when Al beats themโ€”or you get a jump rope and prepare to do many very few, then three extremely fast hops.

Failing that, you jerk forward and backward while headbanging, because you consider yourself “too cool for metal,” I guess.

“Backstrokin'” – Fatback (Live in DC)

Sweat Rating: 2/4

These dance steps are easily learned, and relaxed enough that you can improv all over them. Strike a pose when the bass goes frighteningly low. Commit heresy by replacing the backstroke with a frontstroke. Replace “lookin’ for that good stuff” with the Batusi, or something even more shameful. This too will encourage you to freestyle, to be bold.

I dunno what it is about the melody that makes this song particularly satisfying for me. In general, though, classic dance-tuney R&B groups who performed in their heyday will have some quality dance action for you to access.

“Finally” – CeCe Peniston

Sweat Rating: 2/4 (from 1/4 to 3/4 depending on your spirit)

This is like exercising in one room while in the next room you got the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater kickflipping all over the wall.

Sure, you can content yourself with copying CeCe’s moves without shame. She’s the baseline: one-step, two-step, raise arms, lower arms. But then you’ll look over and see Johnny over there cartwheeling all over the place. It’s inspiring is what it is.

Variety Section: Anything Performed Live on Soul Train

Sweat Rating: 3/4

You don’t have to go berserk with the power of dance here, you just have to keep it steady for 3โ€“4 minutes. Come on, don’t stop, you’re on live TV, everybody back home is watching!

Scanning the crowd also gives ample opportunity to steal someone else’s now-outdated moves.

The video above features “A Groove Will Make You Move” by the Jimmy Castor Bunch. Such a sustained, intense, funky groove will keep you entranced for minutes, perhaps even hours, to come.

“Speed” – The Apple

Sweat Rating: 3/4

This is not at all a positive message to dance to, but much like how rock fans the world over sing along to the tragic tale of “Highway to Hell,” we too might break it down to what is certainly describing a literal breakdown. This number comes from an infamous corny cheap musical, but the song is genuinely high-quality.

When thinking of shows, movies and such that will encourage dancercising, one thing that comes to mind really fast is MUSICALS. But you might not want to pick something that carries you more than five steps across the room. If you’re like me and you dance in an oblong corner of your bedroom, space is limited and obstacles are everywhere.

If you’re me, you also face the problem of not having seen many musicals and not knowing a thing about dance. Therefore, I had like one viable option for this list, because for reasons unknown, I watched The Apple before I watched most actual good musicals. All the same, if there happens to be a part of Wicked where the witch does a cool dance, by all means, dance to that too!

But…what could be more terrifyingly sweatifying than that, without requiring you to engage in parkour? Where else will this journey lead?!

“Tattad Tattad (Ramji Ki Chal)” – Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-leela

Sweat Rating: 4/4

This is the hairiest dancing I’ve ever seen.

Now, I must provide a disclaimer: I somehow do not think that this music video features a realistic depiction of a festival. For whatever reason, I’m not too sure that women are fainting in droves from seeing a man spin around and boldly scratch his head for several seconds.

For my Dancercise purposes, I want musical numbers that really put the choreography front and center. Many of these shots are long, too, letting the viewers really absorb and comprehend the steps.

This video also gives us a dance you can pretty much do in place! (Assuming you don’t faint from overexertion. Drink that water!)

And then, of course, I personally prefer an energetic number to a ballad. Something hairy enough to get me pumpedโ€”that’s what I want when I exercise.

The Groovin’ Never Ends

It’s not that I have no moves. It’s that I have no good moves, and yet, several extraordinary ones. Hopefully, with a little help from these guideposts, you too will develop your very own unique techniques.

You’ll cultivate the power to take on weird poses that inadvertently strengthen your core muscles and whatnot. If anyone laughs at you, simply fluctuate your abs at them and it should unleash a sonic wave. That’ll shut ’em up.

Thank you for reading, and Patrons, thank you for Patreonning.

For more weird pop cultural relics/tat, dare to dive into the original Pokemon games, and why they’re kinda janky…or learn about the Blondie movies we crave. Or instead glare at the most amazingly futuristic book and album covers of all space-time. If you can handle it, that is. They might be too futuristic.

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