Desert Island Dancing

Posted by on March 7, 2016 in Blog, Living today, Wishes | 4 comments

Dance to a different drum/B. Gillmour/flick

Dance to a different drum/B. Gillmour/flick

One of my perennial daydreams (alongside the ones about playing the Carnegie Hall and having a completely clean and tidy house, but I’ve just realised that these two are probably mutually exclusive) is being asked to go on Desert Island Discs.

As this is hardly likely to happen, I’m going to exploit this platform shamelessly to share my selection – or, you’ll be glad to hear, an abridged selection, anyway.

DID choices are usually somewhere along the spectrum from pieces of music that are personal favourites to those freighted with the memories of certain people, or of key points in a life or career. But the common denominator in most people’s choices is at least one track that will keep their spirits up, and that often means music you can – or rather, can’t help but – dance to.

Researchers in Denmark have established that what makes a dance track irresistible is having exactly the right balance between predictability and complexity in the rhythms. We need to be able to perceive an underlying beat, but there should be enough breaks in it to move us to try to synchronise them with our bodies. That sort of makes sense to me, though I can’t guarantee that all my choices conform to this.

So here, in particular order, but with very valid reasons for being selected, are my choices.

  1. Let’s Go to the Hop, Sha Na Na: This is fast and furious, and would keep me warm once I’m no longer working up a sweat hauling logs and brushwood to build a shelter.  Let’s face it, there is nothing to say it will be a tropical island. I might get washed up on Hans Island, ‘a small uninhabited barren knoll’ of 1.3 square kilometres in the Arctic.
  2. Ça Plane Pour Moi. Plastic Bertrand: some mad Franglais (even though Plastic is himself Belgian) pogoing would be just the thing to put a smile on my face, and would remind me of my Francophile fellow Dames.
  3. Domine Fili Unigenite, Gloria, Vivaldi: I sung this with a choir once, and we just could not keep still. I could belt out the words while I danced and keep my voice in good order, ever-ready to bellow at passing ships (well, coracles, perhaps).
  4. Gimme Some Loving, Traffic: I reckon this one meets all the criteria unearthed by the Danish researchers – a driving beat embellished with variations from the organ and the bongos, and a track long enough to give you a good work-out. Good to start the day with.
  5. Road Runner, Junior Walker and the All Stars: What’s not to like? An explosive drum opening, Junior Walker’s fantastic tenor sax, with elastic guitar twangs in the gaps. I want everyone boogieing out of my funeral to this one.

With this music to hand, you could turn the fundamental drawback of a desert island – that there is no one else on it  ­– into a massive advantage and let rip with your most embarrassing dancing, because it just won’t matter. Whereas who’s to say whether Man Friday would have hung out with Robinson Crusoe had he surprised him in the middle of an imperfectly executed watusi?


  1. What about Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas? Even I can’t keep still when that comes on!


    • Yes – I’ve got happy memories of dancing to that one

  2. Just have to move with I Love the Night Life Alicia Bridges as used in Priscilla Queen of the Desert !

    • Just listened to it – definitely a contender

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