Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)

There are a number of songs that conjure incredibly strong memories of particular people, routines and instances from my student days when I was part of the university’s ballroom and latin dancing society. As a society, we started staging showcases as a form of fundraising, or so we told ourselves – in truth, they usually only broke even through creative accounting, what with glitter and spraypaint totally counting as assets…

This song in particular reminds me of 2015 (I think, maybe 2016), when we had to relocate our showcase from the university’s big hall to a smaller amphitheatre stage at a local high school due to significant student protests. It was a time of much general anxiety, though I hadn’t realised what that tightly wound feeling actually was; I was doing my MA and teaching some undergrad seminars, but thankfully I was no longer running the society as I had before. The showcase usually worked because various people brainstormed and choreographed and did endless hours of unpaid admin, and then executed their visions with a crowd of volunteer dancers who had to be cajoled into attending rehearsals. We all spent weeks of evening and weekend practices to put forth the production, and while the result was very good, the process was a source of great frustration for lots of the participants.

Some memorable hits include a very beautiful, if fernickety piece that required explainer videos with buttons marking the positions of all the couples, some large-scale numbers where we tried to squish everyone onto the stage, and a few that were basically all about getting people into slinky costumes. Always, there would be a couple of non ballroom and latin bits, mostly to keep it a show that everyone could enjoy and invite their parents, friends, colleagues and so on to. Lots of big numbers with keen beginners – and they were always fun and full of energy, which I think makes for better showcase than lots of technique. This one sticks in my mind, and I only have to hear a very little bit of Backstreet Boys (any song, really, not even just this one) to immediately think of the friend that choreographed it, and his lovely partner, who was largely responsible for the showcase that year going ahead as planned.

“am I sexual? (yeahhhh)”

Lightning blog 61

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