Tuesday 20 August 2019

Political Party People: A brief history of dancing politicians

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Eamon Ryan's barefoot dancing at Dublin's Pride parade raised a few eyebrows on Twitter over the weekend but the leader of the Green Party took the 'dad dancing' jibes in his stride.

When questioned about where his shoes were, he quipped, "I had to ditch them.  Hard to dance in    Burkinstocks [sic]"

Indeed.  He's not the first politician to lose the run of themselves and throw a few shapes in public and he won't be the last, but more often than not when people elected to public office exhibit decidedly human traits such as the desire to express themselves with a hip jiggle on occasion, the default reaction is to recoil in horror.

Take Theresa May's rigid shuffling with children in Cape Town last year, the video of which went viral and spawned a million articles much like this one.

The outgoing British Prime Minister was universally derided for her efforts.  'Maybot' inspired further groans when she later emerged on stage at the Tory party conference sporting those very same lunging moves (to the tune of Dancing Queen). Oh, the craic.

Theresa's old pal, Foreign Secretary, former Mayor of London, and potential next Prime Minister Boris Johnson has form when it comes to dancing. A quick Google will produce videos of Boris dancing with soundtracks from grime to Latin.

His namesake and former Russian president, Boris Yeltsin, was also a regular hoofer, and a tad more enthusiastic about his moves, prompting The Guardian to pose the question, upon his death, of whether or not he was "the best dancing politician ever?".  He was, they concluded.

He has competition, however, a little closer to home.  Who can forget the moves busted by former Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Bloom Festival?

As Pharrell William's earworm Happy blared out over the speakers, he got swept up in the moment and attempted to keep in time with a dance troupe during a tour of the festival site at the Phoenix Park.

It wasn't quite as impressive a display, however, as his air guitar at Bruce Springsteen's Croke Park gig.  We don't have a video but you just have to look at the expression on his face to understand he's fully invested in the moment.

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Enda Kenny plays air guitar at the Bruce Springsteen concert at Croke Park.
 

The same cannot be said for US President Donald Trump's attempt to sway to 'Stand By Me' at the Palm Beach County Republican's Lincoln Day Fundraiser in 2016. Who fails at swaying?

If you need more evidence that swaying is not The Donald's forte, here it is:

In contrast, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fully committed himself to Bhangra dancing in India in 2016.  His efforts certainly rate highly on the cringe scale but at least he appears to be enjoying himself.

If there is one politician who managed to buck the trend it was, perhaps, Barack Obama. Back in 2007 he appeared on The Ellen Show and nailed the sway (take note Trump). 

Eleven years later he told Letterman how to perfect those dad moves by "staying in the pocket"...

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