Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bonnie Franklin - I Hate to Exercise, I Love to Tap

At one point during one of the interminable instruction sequences which make up this workout, Bonnie Franklin shouts “You can do it! It’s as easy as walking!” Which is sort of true. It’s as dull as walking, that’s for sure.
Bonnie Franklin was a US actress who died last month of pancreatic cancer. She is best known for playing the lead character in the sitcom “One day at a time” from 1975 to 1984. I’m not sure if this show was broadcast in the UK. Looking at the DVD cover it appears to be about a bunch of women trapped inside a picture frame by a creepy Salvador Dali-esque figure.

Disappointingly, it turns out that it was about a single mom making a new life for herself and her teenage daughters and  tackling such hilarious subjects as sexual harassment and suicide.

And brownies.
I Hate to Exercise, I Love to Tap! was released in 1984 just as One day at a time was finishing and Franklin was presumably scouting around for new projects. In the introduction, she says that used to tap dance with Donald “Singin’ in the Rain” O’Connor on  The Colgate Hour when she was 9 years old so you know she’s already waaaay ahead of us.
She appears eager to bring us up to speed though and spends a lot time telling us what our options are. We can do it in soft shoes. We can do it in taps. We can do it on a board.  We can do it on carpet. We can do it alone. We can do it with our kids. We can do it with friends. We can do it every day. Or a few times a week. Bonnie is keen to stress our many options. The implication though is that failure to do the workout at all is NOT AN OPTION.
There is a grinding relentlessness to the instruction. It’s over an hour long. And it just consists of Bonnie in her odd outfit in an empty school assembly hall tap dancing while an elderly music teacher provides the piano accompaniment off-screen.
Bonnie shows us each of the core steps – including the slap, the stamp and the brush - and then once the instruction has started barely says a word to us other than the name of whatever move we’re supposed to do repeated again and again and again.
My notes for this DVD basically consist of words like “Brush hop stamp slap” repeated endlessly for pages.
After this,  I murdered my family with an axe because yolo
I don’t know if anyone ever learnt to tap dance using this video. It seems unlikely. You would probably be better off getting Ned Wayburn’s The Art of Stage Dancing and following the instructional diagrams.
The evolution of flappers
I’m sure Bonnie was a delightful lady but this DVD is a pretty joyless experience. There are only so many close-up shots of Bonnies’ feet tap-tapping on the ground anyone can be expected to take before screaming “I take it all back! I don’t hate exercise after all!” and running for the hills.
Difficulty Level
The moves aren’t tricky in any way – I can stick my hands in my pockets and stamp my feet as well as the next person. I did have a constant struggle not to slip into a boredom-induced coma. Tap dancing is supposed to be fun. Why did I feel I was being punished for something?
Only 8000 repetitions to go 
Would I do this workout again?
No. Please don’t make me. I already feel I have Franklin’s instructions on a permanent loop in my head. It’s the aural equivalent of playing Tetris for hours and still seeing the blocks when you close your eyes.
Slap, Shuffle, Sliiiiide
Best Part
Bonnie’s Outfit. I imagine she kept adding things to her ensemble until she felt she’d struck just the right tone. “Blue tights and shiny red shoes with three-quarter-length trousers and a stripy top? Hmm it’s nice. But it’s missing something.  I know! I’ll add braces! Not quite there...  I’ll finish it off by partially tucking a massive hanky into my back pocket and - voila! - we’re good to go!”
Worst Part.
Even if you followed Franklin’s instructions to the letter, rewinding, reviewing and repeating as instructed and perfected every move; you would have to accept the fact that you’ll never be close to equalling this guy.


  1. I enjoyed the video. I wish tap could be like that again instead of what it is today.

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comment! What is tap like today, incidentally? I realise I am way out of the tap loop.

    2. Wow, the above review is quite nearly the most lame review I have ever read. I guess you fell out of the wrong side of the bed and peed in your cheerios at the same time. Total negativity and nothing constructive. The video is actually great. The fundamentals or "building blocks" as Bonnie says, are laid out and for a DVD the steps themselves are quite clear. Perfect for beginners. Who cares about Bonnie's outfit. It was 1984. Everyone looked wacky back then, especially with the colors. Your claims that the steps were easy and boring most likely mean that you couldn't comprehend them and didn't bother practicing to achieve that goal.

    3. Firstly, Anonymous, I said Bonnie's outfit was the BEST bit of the DVD. I would be delighted to live in a world where more people went about their daily business dressed as Bonnie is here.

      Secondly, I said that I was sure Bonnie Franklin was a delightful lady AND I linked to a clip of Donald O'Connor tap-dancing in roller skates! How much more positivity do you want from me?

      You're right about not practising though. I am nothing if not half-arsed.