A friend recently sent me an article on writing tips written by Michael Hauge. Now I adore Michael for his spot on advice, but it this one item – I think it’s clearly wrong.
Michael says “One of the most clichéd, hackneyed, and least romantic things you can have your hero and love interest do is to dance together in a situation where no one else is dancing: when music from a party is playing inside a building and they’re outside; in a recording studio as a tune is being played back; on the deck of a cruise ship away from the orchestra. This misdemeanor is elevated to the level of felony if you have themdance in a situation where no music is playing at all, and they have to pretend to hear it.”
I object! I strenuously object! And not just because I just wrote a scene in my work in process that has the hero and heroine dancing privately away from the crush in the ballroom (grin).
I object because I’ve done this in my life and it was immensely romantic. My husband and I danced outside on a wooden deck after rain forced an outdoor party complete with a live band inside at a house party. The rain had stopped. The air was fresh. The house was crammed with people listening to the band play, so we went outside to dance. The music could be heard through floor to ceiling windows that separated us from the interior. We were in full view of the people inside, but dancing outside felt intimate and highly romantic.
And rightly so. Who could forget that scene from Witness when Harrison Ford dances with Kelly McGinnis to the tunes from a car radio? Talk about sexual tension!
How about Jennifer Gray taking (or giving?) lessons from Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing in the privacy of his cabin while the phonograph spins another classic? (Or how about practising that lift in the lake?)
Perhaps the private dancing scene is overused in rejected screenplay submissions, but when it works – when the motivation is right and the tension finely drawn – it works!
I found this clip that shows some scenes from Sabrina and the fabulous Audrey Hepburn (sigh). Note the romantic dance on the tennis court. Take that Michael Hauge!
So how about you? Do you think dancing away from the crowd is romantic or cliched? Should I keep the scene in my work-in-process? Any personal stories to share? Any movies to illustrate your point? Let’s talk dancing cheek-to-cheek.
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