“Let the lady dance around you”

When I heard this line, I assumed it was about the demographic difference between men and women in midlife: gentleman, you don’t have to do the dancing; you can let the lady dance around you.

It turned out to be quite different.  During a Christmas party in England last year, a 46-year-old man did his rendition of the Gangnam Style dance (seen over a billion times on youtube). Then, in front of his wife and colleagues, he had a heart attack and dropped dead.

A cardiologist at Newcastle University recommended that men not throw themselves “into violent exertion without due preparation.”  However, since the dance has been performed by many public figures, including Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, the doctor allowed that the Gangnam dance cannot be considered a threat to public safety.  “The chance that you’ll come to grief is very small. But as with any form of untypical exercise that you’re not used to taking, be somewhat measured. Let the lady dance around you.”

Ultimately the advice is about gender difference.  It is rare for a middle-aged woman to die of a heart attack from exertion.  And of course women are less likely to try to impress their friends by riding an Air Horse.

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