Dancing the Sidestep


Shopping on a Wednesday morning, great fun especially since there are so few people about.


I spot them from afar, the marketing stall with young attractive dark haired men out to sell perfume and miracle creams to gullible old ladies and impressionable young girls.

That is when the side step dance begins. I take two steps to the side and avoid eye contact at all costs, but am still confronted by a long arm stuck in my face waving a free sample about.

“For you madam, try it”, the voice rings out.

“No thank you”, I reply politely,only to be  ignored and confronted even more insistently.

Another two side steps from my side, followed by two from his side, and so the side step dance is on.

No matter what I do, he follows me as if following the secret sounds of the sidestep dance music.  His voice becomes more and more insistent  and mine  less polite. Eventually I manage to shake him off, but my relaxed mood is gone, replaced by irritation and anger. I feel harassed, annoyed and cheated of my peace.

Is it only me I wonder, and set out to discreetly observe other shoppers in the same situation.

Here they come two friends out for a leisurely stroll through the shopping mall.  They spot the stall and make a wide detour avoiding eye contact and chatting intently with one another. They make it past safely.

The next victim is less fortunate. She is gullible enough to stop when the arm waving the sample comes into her field of vision. Happiness for the seller, pain for the shopper. She tries her best to shake him, but eventually she buys a pot of whatever it is he sells before she can be on her way again.

As I observe I begin to categorise the shoppers.

There are the polite side step- dancers like me, the avoid at all costs-dancers, the downright rude leave me alone-dancers, the lets take another route-dancers , the slip into the nearest shop-dancers, the I will ignore you at all costs-dancers, the oh well lets buy something and get it over with-dancers. Each one dancing to her own inner music albeit not voluntarily in this case.


The one thing they all have in common is the fact that all seem to feel harassed , embarassed, or irritated by the  aggressive marketing strategies followed.

Is it fair business practise to sell produce in this way?

I don’t think so. If I need a product, I will find something that suits me, in my own time and my own way.

What do you think and to which music do you dance?