My friends and I have many fond memories and bonding moments over Duran Duran, that fabulously stylish 80s band that saved MTV from the early years of music videos. This was a bleak, dark time when videos were new, and music producers would cover a set with shiny plastic or satin sheets or whatever they could find hanging around the office, throw the band in, with or without their instruments, and say, “Go!” (I’m talking to you Flock of Seagulls in “I Ran” and Billy Squier in “Rock Me Tonight.”) Duran Duran changed that by being stylishly dressed, good-looking, and creating lush visuals that were like mini indie movies. They may not have made any sense, but they were wicked fun to watch.
My dancing friend Mike and I share a particular fondness for the song “The Reflex,” and the video is part concert footage, part classic Duran Duran arty presentation, and part animated waterfall crashing over the audience. This is ground breaking stuff, people. One scene in particular captured our imaginations, and we revere it to this day. In my highly reliable memory, the video pans on a guy dancing way up in the nose-bleed seats and he has this fantastic bouncy move — legs and arms completely match the beat of the song. This is no shot of screaming fans generically bouncing up-and-down with hands in the air. Oh, no, this guy has the moves. Mike and I always copy that move whenever we are dancing to the song, we always mention him when we hear that song, and heck, we talk about him randomly even without the song. It’s not an overstatement to say he’s our video dancing hero.
So one day after yet another reference to The Reflex Dancing Guy, I had a hankering to once again see him in action. I watched the video breathless, waiting for him. At first I was swept up in the rush of 80s fabulousness as Mssr. Simon Le Bon crooned, swaggered, tossed his 80s hairdo around, and pranced about the stage. The arty flashing of random images of light and shadow on profiles and naked torsos, the sparkling, in-sync dancing back-up singers, the double screen shots — all food for the 80s soul. My god, they were music video geniuses. But after about a minute, I slowly came to my senses. Where was Dancing Guy? I looked harder as my heart rate elevated. More Simon with closeups of his beautiful face and pouty lips and his wicked cool hoop earring. Left ear only, which all the cool people knew meant he was straight.
I started breaking out in a sweat. Had I imagined Dancing Guy? In my mind he took up a quarter of the video or at least was shown two or three times; I mean, he’s got those moves. Where the hell was he? Finally, there he was at time stamp 1:31, and whoops there he went by 1:32. If I had looked at a text message, I would have missed my glorious hero.
Huh. He must come back again, I thought.
But no, The Reflex Dancing Guy got only his 1.5 seconds of fame. Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the three minutes of this delicious slice of 80s, including the girl who lifts her head from her hands with tears streaming down her cheeks. This is the real deal my friends. All videos that followed have Duran Duran to thank, and I can say that because I was forced to watch the pre-Duran Duran Buggles singing “Video Killed the Radio Star,” a hundred times.
But I have to admit that if I were watching the video today, I might have missed The Reflex Dancing Guy who changed my life. I can only surmise that my deep love for Duran Duran and MTV’s merciless rotation allowed me to see this guy enough times for him to become my fantastic dancing icon. So, thank you, Dancing Guy. I can only hope to inspire anything similar in anyone for any amount of time.