I Don’t Dance

Ryan wants Chad to dance. Chad doesn't want to dance. But...will he?

Ryan wants Chad to dance. Chad doesn’t want to dance. But…will he?

There is an entire song in the Disney Channel original movie-musical High School Musical 2 about baseball. It’s titled, appropriately, “I Don’t Dance.”

The series of High School Musical films (calling them films seems wrong, honestly) revolve around Troy Barnes (Zac Efron), a jock, and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens), a brain, a pair of unbelievably bland high schoolers who decide to branch out and participate in the annual school musical, changing their lives (and the lives of their more interesting friends) forever.

High School Musical 2 barely spends any time in school, though, because it’s summer! The improbably diverse gang from creatively named East High School in Albuquerque all decide to get jobs at a local country club (East Country Club, I’m assuming). And not just the main characters and supporting players. It seems like everyone in their class also works there. There is exactly one adult at this country club, and he seems to be profiting off of hiring cheap high school labor for every single job. Lifeguard? Check. Waiters? Check. Fitness instructors? Check. Cooks? Musicians? Locker room attendants? Check, check, check.

The only members of the gang who don’t work for the club are Ryan and Sharpay (yes, that is a real name in this movie), twin siblings whose parents are members. They’re definitely fringe members of this merry band of singing, dancing teenagers, since they (or Sharpay at least) seem to take great pleasure in ordering their classmates around. You’re supposed to hate them. Well, you’re supposed to hate Sharpay. You’re supposed to feel sympathetic toward Ryan for having to deal with such an overbearing, self-centered hosebeast.

That brings us up to the song in question—“I Don’t Dance”—which thankfully neither of the milquetoast leads have any part in. Ryan is trying to get Chad, Troy’s best friend and the best athlete in school (besides tiny Zac Efron, who the movie wants us to believe is the school’s star basketball player) to join the club talent show. Chad, being a jock and in a teen movie, says he doesn’t dance because he’s an athlete. There’s a lot of subtext about dancing being girly and effeminate, but it’s never made explicit. Ryan, a dancer and an athlete (though the latter is a surprise to everyone), wants to prove to Chad that athletics and dancing aren’t that different, and decides to use the staff baseball game (which is all teenagers—do any adults work at this country club at all?) to prove it, despite the fact that he’s a member of the club and not an employee.

So half of the staff just lets Ryan, an untested player and again, not a staff member, join the team and pitch as the starter. These guys have matching uniforms for each team, equipment, and the game is taking place at a well-manicured baseball field with spectator seats. This isn’t some pickup game, it appears to be a serious thing. So of course, why not let some random walk onto the team to prove a point that matters to maybe one other person? Also, where is this baseball field? Is it on the country club grounds? With all the teenagers involved in the game and in the stands, it has to be close by. Does a country club, even in sprawling Albuquerque, have enough land and money to build a baseball diamond? How many country clubs have member baseball teams? And how often would they let the staff use it, really? These are the questions that the writers didn’t ask themselves, but thankfully I’m here to poke holes in their feel-good teenage love story.

Congratulations, you are now caught up and ready to watch the video. Well, watch isn’t the right word. You don’t watch “I Don’t Dance.” You experience it.

I know what your first question is going to be. Why is the pitcher wearing white tuxedo pants, a white polo shirt, white SHOES (?!?!), and the ugliest hat I’ve ever seen in my life? What are those clothes!? Well, those clothes are Ryan’s “going to the country club” clothes, which are identical to those of an actual 1920s dandy.

00:00 – 00:27

Ahh, the blaring brass of a Disney Channel musical. It tells you that you’re supposed to be having fun! That this song is a party! And Ryan starts the party by telling Chad that baseball and dancing are the same thing, while doing a dancey hip thrust that I’ve never seen a single pitcher do.

01 dancey hip thrust

If a real pitcher did that, it wouldn’t so much intimidate the batter as it would make him laugh so hard he fell down. It’s hard to bat when you’re curled up in the fetal position cackling hysterically. At least the lyrics are (relatively) on point. “Step up to the plate, start swinging” are things that you would tell a batter to do, and if he did them you wouldn’t look at him like he was, say, in a Disney Channel teen musical.


Chad continues to tell Ryan that he’s a ballplayer, not a dancer, while simultaneously dancing with the bat into the batter’s box. “There ain’t no dance that you can show me” he says while doing a Michael Jackson “WOO!” move.

02 Chad bat dance

He’s also wearing a baseball cap underneath his batting helmet, both of which look like they’re crammed on to his poor little head, mostly due to Chad’s voluminous head of hair. It reminds me of Odubel Herrera a little, but I’m guessing that Chad’s helmet is on so tightly that it would never pop off.


The next section of the song starts off thusly:

Ryan: You’ll never know
Chad: Oh I know
Ryan: You’ll never try.
Chad: There’s just one little thing that stops me every time… I don’t dance.
Ryan: I know you can!

Chad is grasping at straws and we haven’t even reached the chorus. “I don’t dance” can’t be the one little thing that stops you from trying something you’ve never tried before. Ryan is already annoyed (and can you blame him) at this and throws at him intentionally, which is definitely against the rules nearly everywhere you play baseball. Otherwise most of the game would be pitchers constantly throwing at players who annoy them. (Hmm.) Chad doesn’t so much jump out of the way as leap back in a way that is definitely dancing.

03 Chad dance jump

“I don’t dance” he shouts at Ryan on the mound, obviously feeling defensive because he most definitely danced just then.

Have you yelled “STOP DANCING ON THE MOUND, RYAN” at the video yet? Because I have. I’ve done that at least 58 times now, but that’s just because I’ve watched this video an unreal number of times. But seriously, STOP DANCING ON THE MOUND, RYAN.

04 random ryan dance trimmed 05 random ryan dance again

He’s doing nothing to show Chad that baseball and dancing are similar because everything he’s doing is the opposite of baseball. Also, I cannot take my eyes off of Ryan’s hideous hat. It’s like the Wicked Witch’s socks had sex with an old timey golf hat and that is the product of their unholy union. Also, BUTTON YOUR JERSEY, CHAD. You don’t get to wear your jersey like that until you hit as well as Bryce Harper.


The hat has obviously addled Ryan’s brain, because he shout-sings “HIT IT OUTTA THE PARK!” at Chad as Ryan himself pitches the ball to him. Does Ryan understand baseball? Because the pitcher and hitter aren’t usually on the same team. And by “usually,” I mean “ever.” The pitcher doesn’t want the batter to hit it out of the park because the other team will score runs and have a better chance of winning. This is basic stuff, but this is also a guy who is seriously trying to convince a jock in denial that baseball and dancing have a lot in common.

Chad hits a single to third base, which had to be really deep since the third baseman seems to make a competent catch and throw, yet Chad still beats it out. It’s almost like this whole thing is rigged in Chad’s favor and has nothing to do with actual baseball! Or as my great grandfather would say, “Ach, it’s fixed!” Seriously, little leaguers could make that play.


This actually looks like fairly normal baseball! Ryan tries to pick off Chad at first and fails, and then we transition to a shot of the scoreboard, which could not be more meaningless.

HSM_Scoreboard (1)

The “home” team has three runs and the “guests” have two, but we have no idea which team is home or away. The scoreboard also tells us it’s the third inning, but since this doesn’t seem like a regulation baseball game there could be any number of innings. Nine? 19? Six? Or just three? Are the guests getting desperate to score a run because it’s late in the game? Is the home team about to bring in its closer? Or thinking about replacing the starter, who may or may not be Ryan?

These are the questions that no one on the High School Musical 2 writing staff asked themselves, if they even knew these questions needed to be asked, which is entirely debatable. Though the scoreboard does settle one fact: the kids are playing at Henderson Civic Field, so they’re apparently all not at work on a weekday because they’re playing their own staff baseball game. This somehow makes even less sense than a baseball diamond on country club grounds.

Ryan takes a step in the right direction by effectively using dance terms to describe baseball.

Two-steppin, now you’re up to bat.
Bases loaded, do your dance.
It’s easy:
Take your best shot, just hit it.

He’s learning! Chad is swaggering up to the plate like he hit a home run instead of a barely-safe infield single the last time he was up, so there’s an appropriate amount of dance in his step.

06 Chad swagger

No matter how many times that Chad says baseball is his game, I wonder when he breaks out lyrics like this:

I’ve got what it takes, playin’ my game,
So you better spin that pitch you’re gonna throw me, yeah.
I’ll show you how I swing.

Every pitch is spun, Chad. Every. Single. Pitch. He’s not chest-shoving a four square ball. And moves like this:

07 Chad plate scoot

aren’t helping his “I don’t dance” case.


Chad and Ryan are staring each other down in a classic batter-pitcher-fake-baseball-game showdown. Chad calls time, a move designed to break the concentration of the pitcher, and proceeds to take a few practice swings without stepping out of the box.

08 Chad bad time

CHAD. WORK WITH ME. You’re trying to convince us that baseball is your game and then you go and make a rookie mistake! That’s not even a rookie mistake. What’s below a rookie mistake? Because I’ve never played more than a game or two of phys-ed mandated “baseball” and even I know you need to step out of the damn box when you call time.

Chad’s gambit didn’t work at all, and he does a graceful swing and miss with a full spin at the end.

09 Chad twirl and miss

Before he hits the ball right in front of the plate. Looking at the angle he hit it, I thought it landed in the batter’s box, which means the ball is foul and why is everyone running?

10 yeah that's foul

They never show us where the ball lands so they want us to believe it’s fair, but I have my doubts. Chad shoots out of the box, but the ball rolls to Ryan who has run up to greet the weakly hit dribbler and snag it to start a double play. Then, Ryan does the most embarrassing victory dance of all time.

11 Ryan victory dance

Hey guys, let’s do some exaggerated dance-walking! It’ll be fun and totally normal, it’s a normal thing that people do all the time when they’re playing baseball. Ignore the people pointing and laughing, this is completely regular and not weird.


There’s a shot of a random guy dancing at home plate with no bat, ball or any baseball equipment whatsoever. That happens all the time in baseball, right? Baseball!

12 random home plate dance

Now the positions are switched. Ryan is at the plate and Chad is pitching, so they’re clearly using National League rules. Their version of jawing at each other is exchanging talk-singing (I refuse to say they’re rapping, they are not in any way doing that at all, no no no) barbs about baseball and dance. Chad decides that he should talk-sing (again, not rap) at Ryan instead of pitching to him, saying “I wanna play ball, not dance hall. I’m making a triple not a curtain call.”

Dude, you clearly don’t want to play ball, otherwise you’d be doing it instead of saying you want to do it and dancing instead. And if you didn’t doubt Chad’s baseball bona fides before, you should once he dismisses curtain calls—one of the coolest things that can happen to a baseball player—as a fey theater thing, with a hand flourish & bow to match.

13 Chad curtain call dance

Does Chad think that dancing is code for gay stuff? Is he actually performing a song called “I Don’t ‘Dance’” while everyone else is performing “I Don’t Dance”? That would explain a lot.


How are they STILL not playing baseball? Ryan dances with the bat at the plate, and if you know what this move is, please let me know.

14 Ryan guitar strum

“I can swing it I can bring it to the diamond, too” Ryan says while not bringing anything to the diamond but his dance skills and JUST PLAY ALREADY. “You’re talking a lot. Show me what you got.” I never thought I’d be saying this, but thank you, Chad, for remembering why we’re all here. The game. Oh, and you want to show off your baseball prowess so you don’t have to dance. How very Brandon Walsh of you.


Chad yells STOP. He’s in his windup on the mound. Then everybody yells “SWING!” and… Chad doesn’t pitch the ball? We don’t see the pitch at all, we cut to Ryan swinging away. He makes contact and the ball shoots upward, and then… Ryan points at it?!

15 Ryan pop up

Does he know what team he’s on? It doesn’t matter in the slightest, though, because it’s time for a dance break montage!

As the “THIS IS ZANY!” horns blare, we switch back and forth between the game and dance moves that are actually reminiscent of baseball, which I didn’t expect.

16 baseball dance 1 17 baseball dancing trimmed

Of course, over at the game, the ball Ryan hit before the dance break somehow wasn’t a pop-up.

18 Ryan baseball running

In his pristine white outfit he leaps around the bases, doing moves that are not very baseball-like and definitely not regulation. He does a double spin on home plate while being chased by no one, with no one covering. “That’s what I mean, that’s how you swing,” Ryan sings to Chad, rubbing his apparent home run in Chad’s jocky face. “You make a good pitch but I don’t believe,” is Chad’s weirdly off-topic response, because wasn’t Ryan talking about swinging and not pitching just then? He definitely was.


Chad and Ryan go back and forth about dancing and not dancing before we reach another horn blaring music break. Ryan and the other team, the guys in Pirates colors, are all dancing with baseball bats.

19 bat dancing

The red team and Chad come out with gloves, and they all proceed to weakly “Sharks and Jets” at each other while yelling out random lines from the song.

20 sharks and jets 1 21 sharks and jets 2

“Hey batter batter, hey batter batter what?” Say that at a baseball game and prepare to be pelted with popcorn.


Then just like that we’re back in the baseball game, only this time they’ve abandoned any semblance of baseball reality and everyone is dancing all over the place. You’re not allowed to tag a base with a headstand.

22 headstand tag

You’re not allowed to cartwheel between the bases to deliver a throw, and you can’t do a leaping split over the first baseman to avoid the tag (mostly because you completely miss the bag, idiot).

23 cartwheel and leap

You can’t do a front flip onto home plate!

24 frontflip tag


Ryan and Chad are facing off for the last time, with Ryan on the mound in his STILL PRISTINE WHITE OUTFIT AND THAT HORRENDOUS HAT, and Chad at the plate in deep denial about dancing. Ryan delivers the pitch and as he sings “HIT IT OUTTA THE PARK”, Chad appears to do just that. (That’s what you get when you yell “HIT IT OUTTA THE PARK!!!”) As one of Ryan’s teammates tracks the ball into the outfield, a showboaty red teamer does a backflip onto home plate.

25 showboat flip tag

We don’t see anyone catch Chad’s ball, but the guy who (apparently) caught it manages to hit the cutoff man, who lobs it toward home plate…I think.

What happens next is confusing. Ryan runs toward home plate from the mound as Chad barrels down the third base line. Ryan puts his glove out in front of him—again, he is facing home plate—to catch the ball, which was supposedly thrown in from the shallow outfield. Unless the outfield is behind the spectators, how is that possible? Behold the GIF below.

26 final play

Do you see what I see? Is the umpire (wait, there’s a uniformed umpire at this game!?!) tossing Ryan the ball? Where is the ball coming from?! It sort of looks like Ryan is twisting toward first base, which would make sense if Chad had hit it to that part of the outfield. But he didn’t! He hit it to the third base side, so how did the ball get there!? It looks like the throw from the outfield sailed past home plate and hit the backstop, but in the GIF above you just see the catcher toddling toward it while appearing to chase nothing. Then, an instant later in the profile shot, Ryan is receiving the throw from what could be the catcher, but in the overhead view he’s catching the ball from what seems to be a completely different angle! Bad editing? Or CONSPIRACY?! Only you can make that decision. Chad is obviously safe, though the movie would have you believe it’s because Ryan missed the catch and not because they attempted to break the laws of physics.

So Ryan’s team loses, but since it’s a Disney Channel teen movie, Ryan earns Chad’s respect for playing the game, and decides to give this dancing thing a try. (Though of course he still can’t bring himself to say the words “I’ll dance” out loud.) By the end of the movie, though, Chad seems completely on board with the whole dancing thing.

27 chad jumps 28 chad shimmy

Liz Roscher writes about the Phillies at The Good Phight, where she is also the managing editor. Follow her on Twitter @lizroscher.
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THAT was a swing and a miss

Johnny Cueto
Johnny Cueto

A few pitchers DO have a shaky hip thrust from time to time.


What did Ryan’s spray chart look like? What was his BABIP? His xFIP?

These are the things I need to know.


This was the most fun article I’ve read in a while.


Any baseball article with dancing needs Hank Conger doing the robot.


It is Troy Bolton, not Barnes.


Also, the resort that all work at is called Lava Springs.


Good catch. Must have confused Efron’s character with Donald Glover’s character on “Community.”


Hosebeast FTW. Nicely done!


regarding: “Does Chad think that dancing is code for gay stuff? Is he actually performing a song called “I Don’t ‘Dance’” while everyone else is performing “I Don’t Dance”? That would explain a lot.” This is all absolutely code for gay stuff. SEE: Ryan: You’ll never know Chad: Oh I know Ryan: You’ll never try. Chad: There’s just one little thing that stops me every time… I don’t dance. Ryan: I know you can! As you point out, it makes no sense in the context of baseball! Or dancing! But then you realize they’re all actually talking about Chad taking… Read more »

matt w
matt w

See also “I’ll show you how I swing.”


Oh, and Liz Roscher, in case you’re planning to write for a football website next:

Yes, it’s been established that Kurt Hummel doing the “Single Ladies” dance before attempting a placekick would have gotten McKinley High a delay-of-game penalty.

I watched Glee. Anyone got a problem with that?


stealing so many gifs for important use later.

Bisexual Bitch comin at ya #makeamericagayagain
Bisexual Bitch comin at ya #makeamericagayagain

1) This is a Disney Channel movie. It’s not going to be great, get over it.
2) Clearly gayyyyyyyyyyyyy af. They switched clothes after. Dancing is subtext for doin’ it. Boom.