Following the success of their first All Night Movie Marathon Pyjama Party The Prince Charles Cinema in London hosted a second pyjama-based event a few weekends ago with an overnight screening of six back to back dance film classics.
Joining us for round two of sleep deprivation via cinema was the Reverend Shaw Moore, a fictional character from the film Footloose as played by John Lithgow (you’re going to have to commit to this delusion I’m afraid). Moore has some pretty strict ideas about music and dancing, above you can see him looking on in horror at some girl on girl dance action in Dirty Dancing.
Always willing to give an opinionated individual a platform to express their opinions I am leaving the film run-down to Moore as he tests his theory that dancing is an enterprise which is fraught with genuine peril. Over to you Reverend.
What a start. If ever you wanted proof that dancing can lead to violence, sex, and sexual violence then look no further. Saturday Night Fever is little more than John Travolta dancing, trying to have sex, and worst of all tempting his brother away from a life in the church with tales of his free and easy lifestyle.
Let’s have a look at one night in the film in detail. This night starts with a dance competition. Can you imagine a more potent event? High on dance (and drugs and alcohol) Travolta tries to rape his dance partner before going off with four friends in a car. His friends Double J and Joey then take it in turns to take advantage of a drugged young lady (who has been dancing!) on the back seat. After pulling over on a bridge another member of their dancing gang Bobby C (who has previously impregnated his girlfriend) falls to his death while prancing around near the edge. One night of dancing and we have three attempted rapes, drug use, and one death. Case closed!
I find this film so painful to watch. My daughter Ariel is not the young lady I brought her up to be and I appear to be losing my hair. There are two major dancing incidents I’d like to highlight here none of which show dancing to be the innocent activity young Ren McCormack tried to convince me it was.
When McCormack, my daughter, and their foolish friends sneak out at night to dance at a bar the mix of drink, dance, and sexual jealously leads to an inevitable fight. McCormack failed to bring this up at the city council meeting! Later on Ren tricked me into semi-condoning a dance at a local grain mill, a dance at which there was yet more fighting. It may have been glitter, balloons, and bokeh inside the dance but kicks and punches were thrown outside.
On the surface Bring it On may seem like a light-hearted comedy about the joys of cheerleading but all I can see are oversexualised young women using dance to whip a crowd of their peers into a frenzy. While the film is thankfully light on violence there is clear evidence of dance driving cheerleaders to espionage and plagiarism. As for dance leading to sex, the film ends with a kiss (and we all know where that leads) and there are some rather unpleasant references to a hand slipping during cheer routines. Disgusting.
Save the Last Dance is an excellent example of the difference between good dancing and bad dancing. Julia Stiles starts off the film as a sweet innocent ballet dancer but soon grief leads her to become embroiled in hip hop dancing. In this new world of hers she gets in fights, befriends an unmarried mother, and starts a sexual relationship with a young man with a criminal past and gun-toting friends. The minute sexualised dance came into her life it brought with it sex, violence, and racial tension.
At the start of Flashdance it is already too late for Alex, a teenage welder and professional erotic dancer, as dance has already taken hold of her life. Soon after the film begins Alex begins a wholly unprofessional relationship with her employer after he sees her dancing provocatively on-stage in a bar. If that weren’t bad enough Alex’s best friend tries and fails to be an ice dancer (ice dancing only leads to ice violence and ice sex) and ends up as a nude dancer in a strip club instead.
The desire to dance may not seem evil but the minute you give in and dance you will be having sex and taking your clothes off for money. It is inevitable.
The night of horror and immorality ended with the story of an older man called Johnny starting a predatory sexual relationship with a young guest at the resort where he teaches dance. Johnny frequently hosts private dance parties which appear to be little more than glorified orgies and leads young Baby to lie to her parents and lose her virginity.
Worse still Johnny’s dance partner (yes, another dancer) is pregnant after having pre-marital sex and submits herself to an illegal abortion.
Across six films dance has led to a huge amount of sex, drugs, drinking, violence, and even some deaths. In Footloose I caved and began to condone dancing once more but this marathon has me convinced more than ever that dancing is an enterprise fraught with genuine peril, easy sexuality, and relaxed morality. Please keep your Sunday shoes on and refrain from dancing for all of our sakes.
If more proof were needed that dancing is evil, here is John Lithgow himself having a boogie in Dexter: