ARE you dancing? Because Michael Gove is asking. Or at least, he was on Saturday night. He wasn’t, according to his unwitting dance floor companions, getting the rounds in.
Nor, we learned from the manager of Bohemia nightclub, was Mr Gove keen to pay the £5 entry fee to club music night Pipe, citing his pedigree as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
The old “don’t you know who I am” routine on the door – Duchy indeed.
But looking away from the Tory MP’s appalling pub etiquette for a minute, it looks like his mid-divorce mid-life crisis might be the high point of his career.
For who can look at a man, emboldened by “a good few shandies”, making friends and awkward shapes on a dance floor, and not feel warmth.
This was no scripted, cringeworthy jerk on the stage at the Tory party conference. It was no burl-a-girl-around at a press call.
It was just a bloke, well-refreshed, a second wind at closing time and seizing the chance of a decent invite.
Ed Balls’s dancing on Strictly boosted his popularity no end but Gove, eschewing experts, has gone at it like every amateur dancer among us.
What was the appeal of Pipe? The night is described as an “unpredictable mix” of high energy UK and global club music scenes. Unpredictability may be what made the politician feel right at home, given his usual company among the party that brought us, “I was driving a car while positive for Covid because I had to test my eyesight” and “I couldn’t have been paddle boarding as Kabul fell because the sea was actually closed”.
Who knows what’s coming next? Wither satire? God only knows.
Nicola Sturgeon certainly didn’t expect to emerge from self-isolation only to have calls to lock-down nightclubs and prevent the spread of Michael Gove.
It would have taken a divine being to convince me that the sight of Mr Gove on an Aberdeen dance floor would bring some kind of fellow feeling with the man, but here we are.
The re-opening of nightclubs has been stress inducing because the closure has given me time to mull the passage of time and left me unsure of where I’m supposed to fit now.
Can I still, at my age, go for an uncomplicated night out in a club? If I hit the dance floor will all the young folk be making way for grandma? Am I supposed to now go to the clubs where middle aged people congregate? The places we would scorn when we were younger because you’d just be a target for ancient men (say, 45) who had the audacity to drag their crumbling bones and wrinkling skin anywhere near you.
But look – there’s Michael Gove, all 54 years of him, quite happily having a bop.
“I love dancing,” he apparently told the nightclub manager, before going at it for four hours straight.
Imagine saying a Today politician has been caught, “going at it for four hours straight” as a bellwether of decency. Wonders will never etc.
It was only March this year when Mr Gove’s ex-wife Sarah Vine made her stunning “ubiquitous fish” clanger, pretending to love Glasgow yet clearly having only vague notions of city landmarks.
And yet there is Gove, at home in the Granite City and embraced by locals willing to overlook his… well, all of it.
But that’s the wonder of the dance floor, the spirit of the community of dancers.
Cynics suggest this was a dead cat move – a carefully choreographed plan to distract from the utter clustershambles elsewhere.
Or maybe it was a cunning ploy to make humanoid Gove less robotic and more likeable, positioning him as a potential prime minister.
I look at those arms making shapes in that suit jacket, see those arms draped around the shoulders of fellow clubbers, and feel empathy tempered with the tiniest tinge of pathos.
An emotional time, a few drinks, strangers happy to dance, music, movement.
Many of us have been there. This is the great leveller, a way towards common feeling and don’t we need more of that, now.
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