In defence of dad dancing

In defence of dad dancing


Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Getty Images

Why we love Harry Styles: He rocks your grandmother's curtain prints like nobody else, and he's really into dad dancing. Here's why we should embrace this age-old style

Only someone like Harry Styles could give me a lady boner while dad dancing. Lets face it, it's a sign of the times when someone like Styles can pull off dance moves like that and still be a star among lingerie-clad models.

Say what you want about Victoria's Secret annual fashion show ('overrated', 'non-inclusive', 'outdated', 'a reason to exist'?), but you have to admit that it still gets people talking. Media outlets, bloggers and critics dissect every last bump, hump and lady lump and there's no escaping it: The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show is a pop culture phenomenon, for better or for worse.

So much so that it courted controversy even weeks before the models landed at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai. Rumours that the entry visas for Gigi Hadid and Katy Perry were denied for previous cultural appropriation misdemeanors were rampant, with Victoria's Secret fans declaring their loyalty to the lingerie brand, no matter what. I, for one, could do with one less Hadid on the runway. I'm here for Styles, in all of his glorious, Gucci-wearing goodness, days before his debut solo performance in Singapore this week.

Harry Styles in Givenchy

The right man for the job

I, like many older millennials who didn't grow up listening to One Direction, didn't think I'd be taken to someone like Styles. But then one fine day, when rain was pouring down the window — in true Sofia Coppola film style — as I stared out from my Uber, 'Sign of the Times' came on the radio. In five minutes and 41 seconds, my being was forever changed. I threw caution to the wind, sold my soul to the devil (that was commercial pop) and henceforth lived my life as an expired One Directioner. From that moment on, Styles could do no wrong. 

VS chief creative Edward Razek undoubtedly knows what sells. Last December, he made panties drop when The Weeknd was chosen to parade down the runway with Adriana Lima, mere months after the 'Starboy' single exploded. 2016 was the year of The Weeknd — he was dating a Hadid and collaborating with Daft Punk and Kendrick Lamar. While 2017 might be a tie between Ed Sheeran and Styles, the latter scores top points for being — well, lets face it — universally attractive. His self-titled album dropped in May and he starred in a Christopher Nolan film, which is high enough on the scoreboard to make him VS material.

Harry Styles, your new icon for dad dancing

Dad dancing 101

Styles performed 'Only Angel' and 'Kiwi' off his debut album, with the latter even rumoured to be about former flame and VS model Georgia Fowler. He leapt and pranced about in a black double-breasted Gucci blazer, before scoring style points in an all-mint green Givenchy look. He performed alongside three rumoured exes (including Sara Sampaio and Nadine Leopold), proving that you can still see through with a contract despite a potential meltdown, and look good while doing so.

While other VS performers showed rapport with the models as they sashayed past, Styles seemed to be in his own world. A dad dance has untimely shoulder shrugs, a proudly sheepish smile, awkward hip shimmies and a careless disregard for dignity; which Styles sported in his performances. It's apparent that he was the centre of his own universe, very much like your dad as he starts his embarrassing descent at wedding receptions. Like George W. Bush assimilating with the local culture at his God-awful overseas visits, and not unlike Michael from The Office when The Bee Gees' 'Stayin' Alive' came on in one episode.

Dad dancing has gotten a bad rep in this decade, with guides and books written to avoid this first-world problem. The synopsis to Dad Dancing: A Guide to Embarrassing Dads Everywhere by Ian Allen starts off with, "...dads were put onto this planet to embarrass the rest of their families — a guide to the innumerable ways they achieve this". GQ, the ultimate lad bible also has a guide to making sure dads never do it again, with step-by-step illustrations to boot.

George Bush in 2007: How NOT to dad dance

In defence of dad dancing

But dad dancing's not all bad. If contemporary dancing could trace its roots to Fred Astaire, then he's a prime example of dad dancing done right. He was already a father-of-two when celebrated works like Holiday Inn (1942) and Easter Parade (1948) were released, encouraging pre and post-War men to shed their inhibitions and embrace some moves. Gene Kelly was a fairly new dad when An American in Paris (1951) and Singin' in the Rain (1952) came out. Even the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, juggled dance styles such as disco, soul, rock, hip-hop, ballet and jazz as a father-of-three.

While news reports have connected the movement of dad dancing to slower and limited coordination due to old age, it also welcomes a new age of men: The era of flamboyantly not giving a f*ck. Middle-aged men know what they're doing is embarrassing, and they're cool with it. They're not chasing tail nor do they have to make an effort to show off their virility, Patrick Swayze-style, so why not do what's natural instead?

In Northampton, England, the National Dad Dancing Championships debuted in 2004, giving dads a new reason to live. The BBC kids programme Twirlywoos published a study a few months ago in a bid to encourage kids to dance with their dads, with findings that men start dad dancing at the age of 37. With Movember as an opportune time to get men talking about their mental and physical health, perhaps it's also a time to give our dads a break. Encourage them to bust a move, WhatsApp you a dad joke, and even use the word 'we-fie'.

Hello, daddy
When you see someone as talented, virile and relevant as Styles bust out his best, uncoordinated moves on one of the most televised programmes of the year, it's a definite nod (and then some) to glorifying dad dancing.

So go ahead, dance like no one's watching. Come to daddy.

Harry Styles will perform in Singapore on 23 November, 8pm at The Star Theatre. 
Harry Styles will also return to Singapore in 2018 for his arena tour on 3 May, 8pm 
at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. Book tickets.