Unless you've been in hibernation, you will be aware that Thailand has been graced by the presence of Korea's Psy, whose Gangnam Style song and dance routine is the most-watched video in YouTube history.
It's hard to pinpoint the reasons for Gangnam Style's success, apart from the appreciation of the totally absurd which lurks within most of us. It simply makes people laugh.
The Washington Post's view was that ''Gangnam Style has made an extraordinarily stupid-looking dance move suddenly cool''. The Sydney Morning Herald said that watching the YouTube video ''made you wonder if you had accidentally taken someone else's medication''.
But The Village Voice probably summed it up best as an ''inspired piece of silliness''.
One of the more cringe-inducing offshoots of the craze is that some international celebrities are prepared to look like total idiots attempting to perform the dance.
London Mayor Boris Johnson and British Prime Minister David Cameron danced it at the PM's country retreat at Chequers ''after a few beers'' at the local pub. Actually the thought of Boris dancing Gangnam Style is just too appalling for words. Even United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, made a few moves, calling the dance by his compatriot a ''force for world peace''.
Plenty of sportsmen have had a go too, including tennis star Novak Djokovic and West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle, who performed it out on the pitch in the middle of an inning.
A word of warning though to prospective Gangnam virtuosos. It's an extremely energetic dance with unnatural movements _ for people like Crutch anyway. If you are not in the best of shape, be prepared for groin strains, ruptures and other embarrassing ailments to remind you that you're well past it.
Lily's 'Lambeth Walk'
I was introduced to dance crazes as a kid during the 1950s at our family's annual Christmas gathering. My Aunt Lily was a cockney and her party piece was a rendition of The Lambeth Walk, a song and dance from the musical Me and My Girl. It had been hugely popular when World War II broke out in 1939.
I thought Aunt Lily's performance was marvelous. She already had the accent and she would strut around the living room singing ''Any time you're Lambeth way/Any evening, any day/You'll find us all doin' the Lambeth walk ... Oi!''
We all joined in the ''Oi!'' bit, as did King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when they attended the musical in 1938.
As tensions rose before the war, the song and dance became so popular the The Times front page carried a headline: ''While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances _ to The Lambeth Walk''.
It was such a hit that at the height of the war in 1942, when things weren't going so well, the British released the propaganda film Lambeth Walk _ Nazi Style. It was edited to make Adolf Hitler and his troops look silly, like they were dancing and marching to The Lambeth Walk. You can see it on YouTube and it's quite entertaining in a slightly uncomfortable sort of way.
Ramwong takes on the world
Of course, there is no reason why Thailand could not launch its own international dance craze. I've always thought the ramwong would catch on if marketed properly.
But it's from the streets that you get the best dances. It's hard to beat the Sukhumvit Shuffle, based on a couple trying to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing. It's usually two steps forward, one step back, repeated a few times, followed by a mad sprint and looks a bit like a Thai cha-cha. With honking horns as the background rhythm, it could take the world by storm.
Then there's the Pedestrian Prance, inspired by the experiences of Bangkok pavement walking. This is more like a ballet as it requires considerable agility including leaping over ankle-breaking traps, plunging down pot-holes and those intricate steps required trying to avoid stepping in something unpleasant.
'Land of a Thousand Dances'
Probably the biggest era of dance crazes was in the 1960s when there seemed to be a new craze every month with the name of each dance getting increasingly ridiculous.
A song at the time which paid tribute to the crazes was Land of a Thousand Dances, made famous by Wilson Pickett. In the song, 16 dances are mentioned including the Pony, Chicken, Mashed Potato, Alligator, Watusi, Twist, Fly, Jerk, Tango, Yo-Yo, Sweet Pea, Hand-Jive, Slop, Bop, Fish and Popeye.
If you are familiar with any of those you must be a certified wrinkly.
Land of a Thousand Dances itself was a big hit. The original version was by Cannibal and the Headhunters. In the studio rehearsals the lead singer forgot the lyrics and ad-libbed with ''na na na na na''. When they played it back they felt it fitted in nicely and it became a famous part of the song.
Poetry in motion
To finish on a rare cultural note, we turn to 19th century poet Lord Byron on the delights of dancing:
''On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn', when youth and pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet''.
I'm not sure what Byron would have made of Gangnam Style, although he would probably have appreciated the ''flying feet''.
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About the author
- Writer: Roger Crutchley