What’s So Boring about Early Dance?

Quite some time ago, I got into a conversation about dancing. We chatted through a variety of dance topics before we reached early dance, at which point the person I was talking to said (in a tone which brooked no argument) ‘early dance is boring’. Now, this person is not only a good dancer and a good dancer teacher who works in a variety of styles, but has also done quite a bit of early dance. I thought I should pursue the topic, not least because here in the UK early dance of almost all periods continues to wither away for want of fresh interest.

What is so boring about early dance? Here are ten sources of boredom mentioned during our chat, in no particular order.

  1. The music is stiff and dull (if it isn’t twee).
  2. The dancing is stifled by politeness (despite the bad manners of too many participants).
  3. The dancing is strangled by ‘authenticity’ (whatever that means).
  4. Everyone is so serious (if not decidedly miserable).
  5. Too many people can’t dance (and tell you off if you can).
  6. There is a great deal of cultural snobbery (who is this ‘pop’ star?).
  7. The dancing feels like walking to music (and not necessarily in time).
  8. Nobody in early dance tries any other forms of dancing (because it is too vulgar).
  9. People are unfriendly, if not downright anti-social (we don’t want any outsiders here!).
  10. If people aren’t overdressed (at balls) they are dowdy (at all other events).

We talked about several more, but I’ll stop here. None are entirely or always true, of course, but I’m sad to say that I’ve experienced all of them. If it is to survive, the UK early dance world needs to be far more welcoming and a lot more open-minded. And the dancing needs to be a whole lot livelier!

As I believe in living dangerously, I will pursue the ten sources of boredom in more detail in subsequent posts.

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