A Copywriter’s Blog
I also do Bar Mitzvahs Ben Levy 24, January

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I don’t dance. Not well, at any rate.

I am such a bad dancer that- during the 90s- I used to get compliments on my dancing. Actual, serious, compliments.

During the 90s.

This has always been fairly upsetting to me because I have no problem finding the beat. And I know what good dancing looks like. It’s the opposite of whatever I’m doing.

However, at some point I learned to breakdance. Well, actually, I learned how to do one move. There is a whole golden-age of comic-books style origin story behind this. How I discovered the hidden lore in an unlikely place, my subsequent discovery of my natural aptitude for it, and how it took me from obscurity to 30 seconds of being the coolest kid at the middle school youth group dance.

That is a tale for another time.

I’ve been randomly throwing this single move out there for about 12 years now. I literally didn’t know “the move” was a real b-boy technique until I went to wikipedia just now in the hopes that I could find the nearest equivalent. Turns out it’s an actual step, called (depending on who you ask) the helicopter/coffee grinder/can opener.

When I busted it out at the office Holloween party a few years ago, my ex-b-boy coworkers laughed appreciatively/uproariously and dubbed it “the dreidel”.

Please understand, I haven’t done this seriously since I was 14. Now it’s all for a laugh. If I bust it out at an office party, it’s good for a round of collective gasps, a lot of “wait- he did what? DO IT AGAIN I MISSED IT”, and then everyone gets to watch as two or three other people proudly show off just how long it’s been since they did The Worm or a Backspin.

But among Jews “the dreidel” has an entirely different effect. At my best, I knew two moves (one of my ex-breakdancing coworkers taught me a “baby freeze”, which I proudly pulled off at my wedding and have never bothered to attempt since). But over the years I’ve attended lots of Bar Mitzvahs. And Jewish youth group dances. And, more recently, weddings. And dear reader, let me tell you: to a room full of white, middle-class Jews, a single helicopter is the equivalent of an olympic gymnast doing a perfect 10 floor routine in your living room.

They absolutely lose their minds.

It’s fairly embarrassing. The whole thing should be a joke. But these people scream. They demand I do it again. And again. And again. They bring the professional videographer over so they can get it on film (no I don’t actually have a copy or I’d post it up.) Kids would trail after me like I was some kind of choreographic mastermind. I’ve lost count of the number of times I wound up slightly to the side of the dance floor at a Bar Mitzvah, teaching a bunch of 10-13 year olds how to jump over their own leg. It’s reached the point where I get requests at family gatherings.

I should point out that every time I do this, The Wife threatens to divorce me. She’s gone so far as leaving the room on several occasions. “Do you ever consider how badly you’re embarrassing me?” she cries, as she picks up the nearest item in preparation to hurl it at me.

Which of course is practically the only reason I do it anymore.

You might wonder why I’m suddenly mentioning this now. This past Saturday, I attended The Wife’s Grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It was a lovely catered affair at a country club, with all of her side of the family (ie-people I had previously seen at weddings and Bat Mitzvahs) in attendance. It was not the sort of affair one should “bust a move” at.

Which was why I turned down the first three requests.

The fourth one came from The Mother-In-Law, along with a surprisingly hard shove that propelled me into the center of the circle. At which point, I busted a dreidel. During Hava NaGeila.

My Jewish readers understand how utterly ridiculous this is. For the rest of you, the closest parallel I can think of would be performing a flare in the midst of a country square dance.

Comments Off