Dad dancing is sweeping the nation, and according to a new study you may be starting sooner than you think. Here’s our guide to the what, how and why (really, why?) of dad dancing.
A new study claims that hitherto normal dads start to ‘dad dance’ at around the age of 37. This is pretty much the age (according to our own entirely unscientific research) that the dad jokes start in earnest too, so 37 really is the beginning of the age of embarrassment for our children. But what is dad dancing, why do we do it, and can it be stopped?
The new study is for children’s TV characters the Twirlywoos, and if you want you can upload a video of your dad dancing here and win prizes. There’s a Twirlywoo infographic on how to dad dance like a pro at the bottom of this page.
So what is dad dancing? Put simply, it’s the mechanical, classless and brazen repetition of bad dance moves dads like to ‘bust’ when they reach the age of not giving a damn. Apparently, that’s 37.
You sexy thing: oh the irony
Dads love these moves and bring them out on special occasions, like weddings, birthday parties and at Christmas. Drink is often involved. Small children love to see their dads dancing in this way and often join in. Older children tend to run away and hide from shame.
As a word of advice, older kids should listen out for Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees and Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing, identified in the study as the two songs most likely to lead to a serious and often highly contagious outbreak of dad dancing.
But there is another potential explanation for dad dancing, and it has nothing to do with embarrassing our children (that’s just a happy side effect). Apparently dad dancing, which researchers here define as the uncoordinated attempt to pull off complex dance moves, evolved as a mechanism for repelling women.
Dad dancing ‘not sexy’ shocker
Yep, you heard that right. According to one study, clumsy, uncoordinated dad dancing tells younger women to stay away, because the middle-aged men who typically indulge in the practice are past their reproductive peak. That’s right fellow dad dancers. Those young women aren’t staring at us because we’ve still got it, they’re staring at us because we so obviously haven’t.
Researcher Dr Peter Lovatt, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, said.
“It would seem completely unsurprising to me that since middle-aged men have passed their natural reproductive age, and probably have a family already, evolution would act to ensure they are no longer attractive to 18-year-old girls.”
Crikey, that’s hitting us where it hurts.
Is there a cure?
So can we cure dad dancing? Without coming over the full Strictly, what can dads do to avoid the humiliation of dancing like complete berks?
For a start, we might want to think about ditching that awkward side to side movement of our feet, and indeed ditching any vigorous or flamboyant leg movement altogether. A study from the University of Northumbria found that women prefer men who can move the top half of their body fluently. Mercifully, they aren’t too fussed about what we do with the bottom half.
Alternatively, we can keep the dad dancing, and just ditch the humiliation. Who cares what anyone thinks of us on the dancefloor anyway? There are loads of health benefits that come with dancing, even if we’re rubbish at it. So who cares about embarrassing the kids? After all, they’ve embarrassed us a few times over the years.
Or as Dr Lovatt puts it: “Forget about what’s fashionable, forget about dancing for other people, forget about getting things wrong and just dance for the sheer pleasure of being alive. Most of all, just dance like no-one’s watching.”