Penance for dancefloor sinners

By First Impressions by Jamie Morton

I'm a Taranaki man and there are certain things that true Taranaki men don't do.
These include wearing scarves, drinking "boutique beer", posting our feelings on Facebook, describing cows as "cute" and eating anything that we can't pronounce in less than three syllables - note the brevity of the word "cow".
But above all, the Taranaki man does not dance.
If caught indulging in a girlish physical display of emotion, a la Kevin Bacon in Footloose, redemption can be sought only by flagellating himself to death with his own gumboot.
We mountain brothers religiously trust in The Colonel - said colonel being Colonel William Malone, the glorious hardman of Gallipoli and beloved son of Stratford, who so proudly extolled the virtues of Taranaki and the Taranaki man.
But The Colonel would have bayoneted me had he witnessed my disgusting indictment on Nakian tradition in Tauranga on Saturday night. Please strip me of my amber-and-black jersey and my drench gun, fellow farm boys, because I danced.
And I danced. And I danced.
While I'm confessing, I may as well detail every pathetic episode in which I've broken this cardinal rule of The Colonel's Code.
If we flash back to the summer of 1996, at the Toko School end-of-year disco, we come to the moment where one of the prettiest girls in school invited me to slow-dance to Peter Andre's Mysterious Girl.
Willing to forsake my heritage for a potential pash, I jumped to my feet and spent the next few minutes trying to keep in step with Andre's God-awful lyrics: "The tropical scent of you/Takes me up above/And girl when I look at you/Oh I fall in love."
Deservedly, the girl dumped me after school a few days later.


Schoolmates speculated she was more interested in another kid who had just returned from an overseas trip sporting a shiny new Starter tracksuit - up there with chatter rings and Lynx Musk when it came to credibility capital in the mid-1990s.
But I still say it was a higher power, perhaps even the spirit of The Colonel himself, punishing me for my sins.
A similar fate befell me after I re-offended just two years later, at the Stratford High School third-form social.
This time, the fetid soundtrack was the Backstreet Boys' Everybody, and my shoes again shuffled awkwardly with tear-away pants scuffed beneath.
Soon enough, the day came when I was playing touch rugby on the back field with a few mates when one of them observed: "Aw, shame, Morton's gonna get dumped."
He pointed to my new girlfriend approaching across the field with a pony-tailed friend in tow.
"Moral support, bro. She's got the moral support with her. You're getting dumped Morton, hard out."
From that day on, I treated dance floors like hot Taranaki black-sand beaches - check out a few girls on your way across them but clear off before you get burned.
Thankfully, New Plymouth nightspots such as The Mill and The Grumpy Mole afforded real Taranaki men the sanctuary of pool tables and garden bars.
Dance floors were essentially the domain of gelled-up halfbacks with pre-faded jeans and popped collars, viewed in Nakian lore as one step below hockey players and 8-year-old netballers.
So how could it be that on Saturday night, the aforementioned transgressions came to be borne out again? I'm still unsure, but I'm citing the mammoth Hoegaarden glasses they serve at De Bier Haus and the steady flow of solid tunes that guest band One One One was rocking at The Crown and Badger as contributing factors to the crime.
Summoned by a rollicking cover of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues, my bow-legs found their way to the pub's dance floor and proceeded to flail about without care or co-ordination.
The swathe I hacked amid the other punters - nobody dared boogie next to this Taranaki tornado - along with the revolted expressions I collected proved that farm boys just don't belong on dance floors.
With head hung low, I can only pray to The Colonel for forgiveness and vow that at the next pub I'll either stick to the pool tables - or it'll be death by gumboot.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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