News - January 27, 2011

Stijn as a clunky dancing machine

I'm pretty good at walking and at running for the bus or the train. OK, I bump into things sometimes. Chairs and table legs are my favourite. And my top location for a noisy collision is a deathly quiet computer room. But in general I do consider my walking skills adequate to the demands of daily life.

It's another story when it comes to dancing though. I can't dance. I'm just too gawky and clumsy and I have no sense of rhythm.

My lack of dancing prowess was never a problem when I was a student at Van Hall Larenstein. Most of my fellow students of Forest and Nature Management didn't dance either. Anyway, it was just accepted. 'Fine, Stijn, it doesn't bother us if you want to stand by yourself in a corner.' At most I would end up amongst students from the 'Achterhoek' [a rural area in the East of the Netherlands] whose idea of fun was to bump into each other to see who could stay upright the longest.
It's a different story in Wageningen. Not being able to dance is just not accepted here. Even on Tuesday evenings in the half-deserted Flat pub the Bunker, I come under serious pressure.
For example:
'Look, that stage is free, are you coming?'
'No', I reply.
'Yes you are', is the response, accompanied by a piercing look.
'I can't dance', I state with conviction.
'Rubbish, everyone can dance', retort my Wageningen friends.
'Well', I say with a pseudo-intellectual air, 'I've been looking around me here and...'
I don't get to finish my sentence but am pulled onto the small dark stage.
And there I stand, helpless, with the Spice Girls - that's what you get at the Bunker - resounding in the background. Gingerly, my right leg embarks on a vaguely dance-like movement but my left leg refuses to join in, after which my right leg grinds to halt too. I make about five attempts to kick-start this sputtering dance machine and then all of a sudden my left leg throws its principles to the winds... and I start to dance. Gradually I get the hang of it, though I narrowly miss falling off the stage a couple of times. To the right, to the left, oh yes! And then do something with my arms. Suddenly time is flying.
'You're not a bad dancer', I am told afterwards.
'Is it really passable?' I ask eagerly.
'Yes. Well, for a forester at least.'