May I Have This Dance?

I’m of the music video generation, which is to say that much of my late pubescence and early adulthood is tinged with the memory of music on television.

Australia in the late seventies and early eighties saw the tipping point from English influence to American. Until, say, the end of the Vietnam War, our social organization (note the “Z”) reflected British mores – not a surprise considering the number of Poms around the place, all escaping the nuthouse they’d all created in Europe. From that point our rituals gradually took on a more American tone.

So it is with fondness and regret that I look back on how dating changed accordingly. My home town of Adelaide was defiantly and aspirationally upper-class British, despite the waves of German, Italian and Greek immigrants who added piquancy if not steering input. That meant my generation was raised with some curiously mannered habits. Correct use of English. Standing when a lady entered the room. Assumption that any woman entering the room WAS a lady. A reserved distance mimicking what we thought was civilized behaviour.

This was all nonsense of course, a kind of homage to a cult that had no basis in the way people actually relate to each other, nor the best way to – as they say – get close to someone. It was a case of maintaining a social order for its own end.

And that is the end. The way we think about relationships is so different now, that the modeling of my generation is all but useless, like so much ballast in a yacht. But losing the imprints of one’s early emotional life – including those damned music videos – is difficult, if not impossible.

Still, we work with what we have, right?