Blame it on the Macarena, the dance of dementia

July 25, 1996|By KEVIN COWHERD

THE NIGHTMARE BEGAN during a morning workout on the Stairmaster, which is the single most boring piece of exercise equipment ever invented.

Trudging up and down and cursing silently, I gazed around the health club and made this chilling discovery: all the TV's were locked on "Regis and Kathie Lee."

At this point, a strange calm descended upon me and I thought: "OK, it's about 198 degrees in this room and you're on a Stairmaster watching 'Regis and Kathie Lee,' which means your life has hit rock bottom. At least it can't get any worse than this."

Unfortunately, as so often happens, I was wrong.

Because suddenly Regis Philbin jumped to his little feet and Kathie Lee Gifford flashed one of those eerie Stepford Wives smiles and started bobbing up and down like a dashboard doll.

Then they began talking about something called La Macarena.

It turned out the Macarena was this new arm-swinging, hip-swaying line dance said to be sweeping the country.

To demonstrate, Regis and Kathie Lee showed a film clip of dozens of New Yorkers -- ordinary pedestrians, construction workers, cops, nurses, senior citizens, even Regis, for God's sake -- doing this goofy dance, all to a dreary, hypnotic Latin beat that sounded like something Spanish cowboys would sing on their way to castrate a bull.

By this point, of course, I was actually praying that I'd black out and tumble off the Stairmaster.

Not only would this put me out of my current misery, but, with any luck, I would hit my head hard enough on the floor to cause temporary amnesia, making me forget everything I had just seen.

Unfortunately, though, no matter how hard I pounded on the Stairmaster -- and I was really going at it now, really trying to get my pulse rate soaring into the danger zone -- I remained conscious.

Therefore, I was forced to watch the entire piece on the Macarena, which is such a breathtakingly stupid dance that it will, of course, become a huge hit in this country.

I used to think the Hokey-Pokey was the dumbest dance I had ever seen. But compared to the Macarena, the Hokey-Pokey looks like something by the Alvin Ailey dance troupe.

The Achy-Breaky was another incredibly dopey dance that had its heydey a few years ago. It was danced, you'll recall, by people in western shirts and string ties and rhinestone skirts and cowboy boots, who sucked on long-neck Buds in darkened Holiday Inn bars and viewed Billy Ray Cyrus, in terms of social impact and contributions to humanity, as the logical successor to Galileo.

But, again, when you measure the sheer embarrassment caused the dancer, the Achy-Breaky pales next to the Macarena.

Let me put it this way. If someone held a gun to my head and barked: "Do the Macarena or I'll blow your brains out," I'd say: "Do what you have to do, pal. Because there's no way I'm doing that stupid dance." You have to draw the line somewhere. There is not enough booze on the planet to get me to do the Hokey-Pokey at a wedding reception.

And there's no gun big enough to get me to do the Macarena.

Anyway, when the Macarena piece ended, my depression lifted, but only slightly. I say "slightly" because not only did I still have 15 minutes to go on the Stairmaster, but the young Pearl Jam disciple running the front desk said he didn't know how to change the channel, meaning we were doomed to watch more "Regis and Kathie Lee."

My depression only deepened in the next few days after seeing reports on TV and in the newspapers about people doing the Macarena at weddings, at parties, even in the operating room at a Miami Beach hospital, which must have been a great comfort to patients watching the doctors making fools of themselves.

But nothing was more disturbing than a tape I saw of tape of thousands of fans doing the Macarena at a Seattle Mariners game, demonstrating more graphically than anything else the horrible depths to which that franchise has sunk.

As usual, it is men who look the silliest doing the Macarena. Let's face it, there are only about four men on the entire planet who look cool dancing. The rest, with their spasmodic jerking and twitching, look as if a live, 50,000-watt power line has suddenly come crashing down on the dance floor.

On the tape of the Mariners game, the camera zoomed in on a sight so terrifying that I well, I'm not sure I can describe it.

OK, picture this: a long-haired, beefy guy in his 30s, porkpie hat, no shirt, fish-belly-white skin interrupted only by the blue tattoo of a dragon across his chest, huge gut spilling over his cut-off jeans, a beer in each hand as he tackles the Macarena.

If this is the future of this dance, God help us.

My depression only deepened in the next few days after seeing reports on TV and in the newspapers about people doing the Macarena at weddings, at parties, even at major league baseball games, which is particularly disturbing.

Pub Date: 7/25/96

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