Once, to make up for a childhood deprived of the dance lessons, I enrolled myself in the nearest dance studio at age twenty-two. There I was, mastering heel digs and jazz hands with a dozen eleven-year-olds, living the dream. Mind you, I was 5’10 and all limbs, and when I wasn’t triggering a little-kid pile up I was working with the instructor on arm positioning to affect grace instead of sailor knots. It was a short-lived venture, but now I’m thinking I went about it the wrong way. Maybe all I needed were a few cinematic examples. So to usher in 2013 with the right moves, I’ve rounded up some of cinema’s most badass dance scenes in one handy playlist. Just to make things interesting, my rules were: no musicals (like Singing in the Rain) and no movies about dancing (like Footloose). And away we go:
“Thé à la Menthe”
By way of explaining the badass allure of this clip, I’d like to quote the intro to Elizabeth Day’s 2012 interview with Vincent Cassel from The Guardian: “Vincent Cassel is very charming. He knows it. I know it. Everyone in the room – the photographer, her assistant, the make-up artist, the fashion team – knows it, too. When he speaks, his every witticism is greeted with a tinkling outburst of communal laughter. When he moves his leg ever so slightly to alter his pose, the photographer becomes breathless with admiration: ‘Perfect. That’s perfect.’ It’s only a matter of time until we all break into a round of applause and throw long-stemmed roses at his feet.” Without further ado …
Pretty in Pink
“Try a Little Tenderness”
My biggest problem with this film has always been that Andie ends up with the sullen, preppie kid named after a major appliance instead of this guy. I mean, check out these badass moves (and that bolo tie):
“Jump (For My Love)”
The Pointer Sisters
I hate to break it to Jon Stewart, but there isn’t a single tale of evil divadom that can take Hugh Grant down … because this exists:
“You Never Can Tell”
“I do believe Marsellus Wallace, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Now I wanna dance. I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good.” Don’t mess with Uma. She’s badass.
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
How to win over a gang of badass ruffians in a biker bar? Dance on tiptoes in platform shoes to “Tequila,” of course.
This scene’s a bit of a non sequitur in Hal Hartley’s film, but what a glorious, fist-pumping non sequitur it is:
You think it’s going to be awful … and then it’s not … and then it kinda is … and then the music cuts out … and then Napoleon, in mouth-breather, wet-noodle-arm mode, bolts off the stage. Classic with a dash of badass.
And God Created Woman
Brigitte Bardot doing the mambo. You’re welcome.
“Puttin’ on the Ritz”
Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle
Confession: I created this list just so I could include this clip in a post again. Reasons it’s badass? It’s a song and dance featuring my kid crush Gene Wilder (I know) and some moves with the late, great Peter Boyle that even I can master.
13 Going on 30
Okay, not the best of the old/young body swap films, but when thirteen-year-old Jennifer Garner in thirty-year-old Jennifer Garner’s body wants to get this party started with the only badass dance she knows back from nineteen-eighty-whatever the result is (slightly-awkward) “Thriller” goodness.
Cheating a little because this badass contender appears during the end credits, but tell me when the Slumdog cast dance to AR Rahman’s “Jai Ho” rolled you didn’t stay all the way up to the filming location “thank yous.”
“Old Time Rock and Roll”
Socks, check. Dress-shirt, check. Underwear, check. Take us on home, Tom Cruise.
But, wait! One more for good measure:
Note: If you’d rather strut, maybe revisit The Playlist of Cinematic Badass Walking.