Shall We Dance? Since the first toe tapped, the width of a ballroom has seperated men and women on the issue. Our columnists choose sides.

Yes: It's a fantasy dear to women's hearts.

August 20, 1998|By Susan Reimer

What do women want? The answer is much simpler than Sigmund Freud, or Kevin Cowherd, ever imagined.


Women want dancing.

Oh sure, women want other things in a relationship. Women want jewelry. Women want someone who listens when they talk. Women want to hold the clicker. Women want to control the mating process and the genetic future of the species.

Women want all those things. But sometimes, women just want dancing. I want dancing. But I am trapped in a danceless relationship. When I asked my husband to go dancing recently -- instead of, say, going to the movies again -- this was his answer:

"I am a dancing butterfly," he said, "in the cocoon stage."

I am comforted by the fact that I am like most women, and most women get no dancing. And those women who get any dancing at all, get very, very bad dancing. The kind of dancing you'd expect to get if you have to ask for it -- reluctant, grudging dancing.

That's not the kind of dancing women want, not that women can afford to be picky. Women don't want obligatory dancing. High school reunion dancing. It's-our-anniversary dancing. Somebody-else's-wedding dancing.

That's worse than no dancing at all. Well, almost. Truth be told, women will take any kind of dancing they can get.

But what kind of dancing do women want? What kind of dancing have they dreamed about since they were little girls? What kind of dancing did they go to college for? What kind of dancing do they hope for when the kids are finally out of the house?

I'll tell you what kind of dancing women want: Romantic dancing. Fred and Ginger dancing. Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron dancing. The kind of dancing you get when he thinks you are the most beautiful woman in the room, the only woman in the room.

The kind of dancing Chris Deburgh sang about in "The Lady In Red": "The lady in red is dancing with me. Cheek to cheek. There's nobody here. It's just you and me. It's where I wanna be. But I hardly know this beauty by my side. I'll never forget the way you look tonight."

Forty million copies of that record were sold and I bet it was 40 million women buying it. Have you heard of Chris Deburgh since? No. That's because he didn't write another song about dancing.

Do you know what other kind of dancing women want? Women want dirty dancing. Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey dancing. MTV, VH1, BET dancing. The kind of dancing that would cause a husband to start a fist fight on the dance floor if another man dared to dance that way with his wife.

Is it so much to ask?

I can tell you what kind of dancing women don't want. Women don't want American Bandstand dancing. The kind we used to call "fast dancing." Men look like they just got out of an iron lung doing that kind of dancing. You are safe, Kevin. We don't want to see that kind of dancing, any more than you want to do it.

Women don't want country line dancing, either, but we'll take it. At least we're touching. And the choreography is set. None of that spastic, free-range dancing.

But women don't trust country line dancing. We think it has nothing to do with us, that it is just an excuse for a man to dress like Garth Brooks.

Women will take ballroom dancing lessons, if that's the best a man can do. But dancing lessons are to dancing what sleep clinics are to sleeping with someone. There is no romance in instruction, no passion in practice.

But women will take ballroom dancing lessons. That's because women are eternally optimistic and we hope that if there are dancing lessons, there will someday be dancing.

It doesn't have to be Irish step dancing or ballet dancing (would you rather sit and watch?). It doesn't have to be the limbo or disco dancing or dancing the Electric Slide, and you don't have to do it in front of anyone you know.

It can be dancing in the dark, on the back porch, after the kids are asleep, with only the sound of his voice next to your ear for music.

It can be it's-late-and-the- guests-are-finally-gone, it's-just-you-and-me-among-the-empty- glasses dancing.

It can be barely-room-to-move at a concert dancing. Swaying in the aisles, his arms around you as you both face the stage. That kind of dancing.

Women used to dream about alone-on-the-beach dancing, but the president trashed that fantasy.

What do women really want? It is very simple. Women want dancing. You can do it. Just put one foot in front of the other.

But take her in your arms first.

Pub Date: 8/20/98

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