One aspect of German, Swiss and Austrian life that I've always found intriguing, if a little alarming is the rather regimented partner dancing that seems to go on wherever there's music. I first noticed this on ski holidays to Austria in the late 80s and early 90s.
Typically, a lady with a formidable "helmet" hairstyle and severe glasses would grab a man with a grumpy moustache and a paint-splash shirt and the two would march around the dancefloor with looks of grim determination on their faces. Woe betide anyone that should cross their path! Usually this would be to the accompaniment of some ghastly "eurodisco" song - "Macho, Macho" comes to mind.
I'd sigh with uncharacteristic relief as the DJ put on a fast techno beat. Surely they weren't going to dance in that manner to this? Oh, yes they were! It was as if someone had simply wound their clockwork motors up a tick faster.
You can probably gather that I am not a huge fan of Discofox, as this dance style calls itself, and I will not be signing up for a course at my local dance school. But each to their own, I suppose. Discofox has been on the scene in Germany, Austria and Switzerland since the 1970s, inspired partly by Saturday Night Fever, partly by the foxtrot and other ballroom styles and partly by the love of Germanic types for regimented but energetic movement.
But maybe I am too quick to criticise. Far from being a fad or trend for people who were young in the 70s or 80s, the younger generations are also taking to Discofox. A recent survey showed that half of the 15-20 year olds asked have taken part in a dance course and 38% claim to enjoy dancing with a partner as much or more as on their own.
The only thing that remains to be seen is whether these young people also adopt the helmet hairstyles and grumpy moustaches.