White Men Can’t Dance [or can they?]
Dance Music Lovers takes a look at the phrase “White Men Can’t Dance.” Is another poisonous myth spread by our slogan ridden society? Many Black and Latino males (that don’t know their world history) fall into this false sense of confidence when it come to moves on the dance floor.
Hollywood and television often makes fun of the white suit wearing Italian from Brooklyn, New York. Like the character Tony Manero (played by John Travolta) in “Saturday Night Fever.” This 1977 film by director John Badham (what a f’n real name) was a big box office hit, however, with the brilliant footwork by Tony Manero and his dance partner Stephanie Mangano (played by Carol Lynn Gorney), they won the dance contest. Tony felt that the Latin couple danced better than they did so he gave them the trophy (he believed he won because it was a local club in his Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood).
This storyline, despite a brilliant sound track by the Bee Gees, continued to perpetuate the myth that “White Men Can’t Dance.” This movie myth laid dormant until a film named “White Knights” premiered in 1985. This movie was not as commercially successful as “Saturday Night Fever.” This movie featured an African American tap dancer named Raymond Greenwood (played by Gregory Hines), and, a Soviet ballet dancer named Nikolai Rodchenko (played by Mikhail Baryshnikov). The plot in this movie brings these two characters together, that have very different styles of dancing, but they manage to learn from each other despite their highly competitive nature.
A turning point in the movie comes when Raymond challenges Nikolai by betting 11 Russian Rubles, that he can’t execute 11 pirouettes. To Raymond’s disbelief Nikolai effortlessly executes the 11 pirouettes and collects his money. Conclusion — WHITE MEN CAN DANCE (or at least a chosen few)
This scene can seen on my Facebook page: