If you are at all versed in the lives of pre-tweens, you are acquainted with Miley Cyrus and her alter ego, Hannah Montana. In her recent major motion picture, which I was blessed to see on opening day, there is a feel-good dance number that looks something like the electric slide on crack. It’s a hip-hop spiced line dance delivered at the clip of a semi-automatic weapon. Knowing this in advance, I really should have been more leery when Celia suggested that we spend the evening learning to do the dance via YouTube tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fRiT05TWwE).
75 minutes later…Celia is face down in the bed sobbing. My pouring a tequila elixir to sooth my frayed nerves. Let me break it down, step by step to show you how we got here.
To begin, position yourself within inches of each other to both stare into the 17-inch monitor on which a hip-hop choreographer and a spunky Miley Cyrus demonstrate their moves. Attempt the first move combination known as “Pop-it/Lock-it/Poka-dot-it”. Do this in such a way that you try to understand the move while explaining the inverse orientation of the people on the screen – thus we must do the opposite, and remain within touching distance of the pause button.
Repeat three times. No, with the other right foot. To your other right – remember, do the opposite.
Next, beam with pride as you master the “countrify-it” move with thumbs in your belt loops and heels tapping on the floor. Celia gets it easily. This isn’t so bad.
The first sign of trouble comes with a three part moved called “hip-hop-it” immediately followed by an impossible “Hawk-in-the-sky” step that involves Egyptian-esque arms and a flirty little kick. In six beats we are supposed to accomplish something like 15 motor skills. And each of these must be performed in the opposite direction as our rhythm-endowed instructors.
Pause. Rewind. Play. Pause. Rewind. Play. Pause. Rewind. Play. Pause. Rewind. Play.
"But I can’t remember which foot to start with,” Celia whines with an exaggerated frown on her face. “It’s tooooooo haaaaard. Is it like this? Wait. No. Like this. Hold on… hip….hop…no, wait. Can you back it up?"
“Celia, try just watching for a minute. See? You can do that,” I say feeling my neck tightening with each mini-scowl she emits. “If you are too tired, let’s not do this now. It is supposed to be fun."
"I’m noooooot tired. I just can’t dooooooo it” she scratches out like a rusty old screen door.
Then I conceive my very own stellar move! I’ll put the computer in front of the large windows. It’s dark outside so the instructors are miraculous visible and transposed.
“Look Celia! Now stand here and watch in the window. Just do what they do – exactly like they do,” I say feeling superior to MacGyver and Arthur Murry. With the help of reflective light we conquer “hip-hop -it” and “hawk-in-the-sky” and breeze through “side-to-side.” Watch out Paula Abdul.
A bi-directional kick move proves less “jump-to–the-left” than “convulse-to–and-fro” but we get past it with just a few whimpers and another two dozen rewind maneuvers. By this point I’ve taken to a chair next to the computer to execute the non-stop rewinding. The harder the moves become the more Celia is tempted to look at the monitor directly sending each step in the wrong direction. I in-turn am tempted to remind her to look at the window. Tension is mounting.
“Zig-zag-touch”, a move clearly designed for us dance-challenged, gives us a moment of victorious revelry but it is short lived. “Cross-the-floor” followed by “Shuffle-in-diagonal” strains my last nerve. Why the hell is it on the diagonal? They know that millions of 6-12 year old girls are going to try this – what the hell? Celia is nearly in tears as I tell her too curtly, “Stop looking at the monitor! Look in the window. See? Try the “hit-the-Drum” move. That looks easy. No – right hand with the left foot. That’s not your left foot. Watch me.”
Here’s a step to avoid when in this situation: Right about this time, you may be tempted to demonstrate the “180-twist”. I recommend you stay seated. Eyes darting from monitor to window, Celia attempts the swivel-hopping move in utter confusion. Helpfully, I get up and demonstrate.
“But that iiiiiis what I am doing!” she moans in exasperation.
“No, you did this (demonstration of tornado). I did this (correct procedure)” I bark. Yes, I’m barking now.
“That is not what I did!” Celia counters with her own take on the previous five minutes of equally mangled dance steps. We are deep in our “Yes you did, no I didn’t” debate when I threaten to turn off the computer inciting the first tears to form.
“Let’s just watch them finish the dance” I snap.
“Okay” Celia whimpers.
A “zig-zag-touch,” “lean-it-left,” “clap-three-times,” “shake-it-out,” and “Throw-it-all-together” later the dance is finally complete. Just 3 minutes and 19 seconds of dance instruction has cost us more than an hour and instigated a throwdown of our own.
Disgruntled Celia breaks into tears over my “tone”. I make her feel bad when I tell her she’s using the wrong feet and other muffled accusations rise from snotty sobs. She cries. I stew (in tequila). Miley smiles incessantly, frozen in the throes of “hip-hop-it”.
Celia has fallen asleep and the Disney-inspired disaster is over. Whether she picks up with “Zig-zag-touch” tomorrow is between Celia and YouTube. I’m sitting the next one out.