Context Matters

I quite like the Pet Shop Boys’ video for “Together,” and I think it illustrates a useful point:

The video works on two levels: first, it’s a sweet, slightly sad, particularly English fantasy, with the Boys themselves standing around as slightly menacing Lords of the Dance. Second, it works as an exercise in context. Dance scenes that might seem like cheesy hip-hop battles or a rip-off of Bollywood gendered dance conversations read differently in an English industrial setting, and Regency dances in formal rooms are different when the people performing them are working-class kids in modern clothing. The rituals of conversation and courtship vary, but the emotions involved, that desire to close the distance between two people, stays the same. Those subtle differences make us see new things in well-established movements.