Why ‘dad dancing’ is the next big fitness craze – Jim Duffy

We may not move like we used to, but men of a certain age can still shake it no matter what the cool kids say, writes Jim Duffy.

Strictly Come Dancing is usually a rather competitive affair, but Ed Balls, seen with Daisy Lowe, arguably brought a bit of a dad dancing vibe (Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Strictly Come Dancing is usually a rather competitive affair, but Ed Balls, seen with Daisy Lowe, arguably brought a bit of a dad dancing vibe (Picture: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

David Bowie was quite an adaptable artist, capable of morphing his singing personas into different eras and epochs. He could go mainstream and off-grid, depending on his reading of what worked and probably how he felt. One song that stands out as fairly middle of the road, inoffensive and catchy is “Let’s Dance”.

Mr Bowie wore no fancy make-up for this one, albeit it looks like he had some fake tan on. He belts out the tune in the video in what looks like a country cafe in Australia. The video itself has nearly eight million views on YouTube.

The best bit comes around 54 seconds in, when a big old bloke gets up and starts dancing. Not just any dancing mind you. No, it’s proper daddy dancing and it’s time we accepted that this is not a cringe fest, but a phenomenon.

See, older man can still dance like Travolta as demonstrated by, from left, Jonathan Ross, Richard Branson and Roland Rivron

Having recently got married, I knew at some point I would have to venture onto the dance floor. Forget the first dance and even the second. It is when the night starts to get darker and the lager flows that dad or daddy dancing comes into its own.

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And I knew all eyes would be on me. Why? Well, on the morning of my wedding, my two daughters sent me a text warning me that I was not to engage in daddy dancing later that day. It seems that us chaps when we get into our rhythm, it makes the offspring squirm and run for cover.

I was most certainly put on notice. Of course, I replied to them both, openly mendacious, stressing I would not indulge in such comedic behaviour. But, even if I had been serious about not daddy dancing, I’m afraid I couldn’t not do it if I tried.

And that is the crux of the matter for 40 to 50-something males on the dance floor. Despite really wanting to be John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing or any other cool dude one can think of, it all comes out the same way.

Shameful, mortifying

Ask any man of this vintage and he will tell you that his brain and ego wants to thrust, shimmy and boogie, but his body just won’t let him. And here is the first impediment to “proper” dancing.

As we get older, the tendons, ligaments and muscles are all a bit worn. If we use the footballer analogy, when I look back at Ally McCoist or Frank McAvennie, they were agile, athletic, flexible and fast. But now, these guys could not do a fraction of what they did when in their prime in their 20s and 30s. And, for most of us, that’s simply part of the ageing process.

And it is this process and journey that leads us guys to daddy dancing, a progression that should be embraced and positively fostered in us 40 and 50-year-olds. So why does it come in for such close scrutiny and pejorative comment?

I think it all comes down to being “cool” or not. There comes a point in our children’s lives when they realise we are not omnipotent and have faults. They stop seeing us as “cool” and can rationally conduct comparative analysis with other parents and influencers.

This is the realisation phase – that their dads are not gods and can dance in an embarrassing fashion, so embarrassing that they actually need to text and prevent the spectacle, it seems. But, I say it’s time to throw off this idea that daddy dancing is a shameful, humiliating and mortifying experience. It’s time to embrace it and take it mainstream. Wicked, eh?

Feed the birds!

Daddy dancing is not a deliberate attempt by us older guys to look embarrassing, but is, with perhaps a few exceptions, a natural progression in our development, so it is time to mould this phenomenon into popular culture.

First off, let’s create some positivity around the term – daddy dancing – by having it accepted as something real, tangible and normal. The best way to do that is to start daddy dancing classes.

Currently, the fitness sphere has aerobics, spin, body pump, Zumba etc, so why not daddy dancing? I’d be more than happy to kick off the inaugural daddy dancing classes at a gym or studio near you.

Just imagine 20 like-minded blokes, maybe carrying a bit too much weight, getting fit to their favourite tracks, while they daddy dance. Jump by Van Halen, Don’t You Forget About Me by Simple Minds, and Fast Love by George Michael would all blast out the speakers as we refined our moves. “How big is your TV” moves accompanied by “feed the birds” jives all pivoting on some dodgy knee-bending. All, of course, accompanied by us singing the words with imaginary microphones as we moved into a fantastical world where we belong.

Next up, we need a few celebrities or actors to lead the way and get behind the movement. Who knows, there could be Christmas DVD – Get Fit to Daddy Dancing. Lose those extra inches, while you groove to Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams.

Maybe some of the more mature musicians would lead the way. Why not Chris Martin, Robbie Williams, Bono or Sting? They could be daddy dancing sensations and role models. New ambassadors for a craze that could sweep the world.

Never mind Strictly and Dancing on Ice, which simply highlight elitism and are so competitive, when we could have hundreds of blokes in dance-offs, all having fun and getting fit. Who knows, it could be a big win for the NHS. Enter the political debates on the need for more daddy dancing...

Until then, I’m happy in my own skin and in the knowledge that I may not yet be cool on the dance floor, but I’m certainly having fun.