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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Friday, December 5, 2003

Urban Dance

by Kay Sexton


Hi, I’m Patricio, your instructor for today’s Subway Tango. Just before we start, can I check that everybody has read the introductory leaflet? Yes? Thank you. So … for the next four weeks we are learning very special dance activities, relating to living in this wonderful city. You are all loosened up? Yes? O.K., so we begin with gliding steps; slide your leg forward and … stop! Imagine that the automatic door to the train carriage has just slammed on your foot, and you will achieve the perfect movement.

The tango is characterized by sudden stops. Practice a glide, as if sliding into the space left between a suitcase and two cardiganed women, add a graceful neck bend to fit your head into the curved space near the door and … stop! Excellent.

Sometimes we add a little cha-cha element. This is not classic tango, but if you enjoy improvising, it can be fun. So … imagine a backpacker in front of you suddenly turning ‘round. Back, two, three—small, fast steps … curve the spine to avoid the bag hitting your midriff, and that’s it—the Subway Tango.

Don’t forget next week’s lesson will be the Feng Sway. Please practice your steps from this week, especially if using mass-transport systems, and I will be looking forward to next week when we change the pace to something a little dreamy.


This week we learn the Feng Sway—an urban dance that removes clutter and enhances working life. So … start by watching the progress of a “difficult customer” file, or folder maybe, around your office. It will be moving in false time. Your turn to partner the file will come, and when it does you need to …
Lead with the file, having located the desk for the hand-over. Take the file across the office, nice and slow, but without hesitation: this is a purposeful step. Take your timing from internal mail—ultraslow.

Once you are level with the desk, lean your head to the right as though telling a dirty joke and sway with your right arm, holding the material lightly but firmly, until the file touches the desk. O.K.! Now straighten, about-turn, and a neat quickstep back to your desk. Very well done—you’ve mastered the Feng Sway.

Lots of practice before next week, please, and concentrate on the sway—it is so important to this deceptively simple performance. You will find that with practice you can reduce your working hours by many percent and this is a good thing because it gives you more time to dance!


This week we’re learning something difficult but rewarding, yes? O.K., this set piece can be done in coffee shops, sandwich bars, and McDonald’s, and provides a thorough workout for experienced performers.

Here’s what you do: from the queue position, make sweeping hip movements laterally, ready to jeté to a counter when one comes free. For true refinement, add a head tilt to read the blackboard specials, but don’t compromise your laterals to achieve this. Keep the elbows out to inhibit other queue jumpers.

Once at the queue’s front, add the staccato cha-cha we mastered in Week 1. Use your loose change to rap on the counter, too. If possible, syncopate this with your swiftly tapping feet—the server will speed up if your tempo is right! Don’t forget to tip your barista; just like your humble dance instructor, he or she may rely on you to keep for survival when paid starvation wages.

Experienced dancers can try ordering lunch for all the office—it’s a real footwork challenge to get back safely to your desk.


Most people will find themselves in this dance sometime, but if you ever feel you’re not ready, stick a pen up your nose until it bleeds and go home.

Otherwise, imagine your boss is about to be sacked: you’ll know this is happening by the sudden outbreak of nosebleeds. If—and only if—you are confident, imagine you can hear a band playing “Girl from Ipanema” and glide across the room as he is clearing his desk.

Before the boss picks up his cardboard box of executive toys, give him a smooth handshake (don’t add any back-patting), and say, “Good luck,” or, “All the best.” Do not improvise here, it could ruin the performance, and your career, if you have one A low-key shuffle back to your desk will leave people believing you have integrity, without compromising your relationship with the incoming boss—hence bossa nova. As I say, this one’s not for the fainthearted; the pen is an easier option.

I hope you have enjoyed your taster course in Urban Dance and that your new skills are much enhancing your life in the lovely city we have here. I just want to remind you that I am happy to give individual tuition in your own homes at very reasonable rates and say that I hope we will see you back again soon for an intermediate course in City Beat. Come again soon!

Kay Sexton is possessed of a superpower that allows her to always be right after the event. She is a published writer who spent two years as an agony aunt for nudists -- it was an education, although for what is not clear. She is also a philosophy graduate, recreational runner, and hostage to a capricious muse. Ms. Sexton's dry British wit can be found at Wired Heart, at Pierian Springs, at Literary Potpourri, at The Sidewalk's End, and at Net Author, and right here on Y.P.R.