Ryan from High School Musical

Unpacking the monumental gayness of High School Musical's 'I don't dance'
September 28, 2015 – 11:39 am
These High School Musical

Image 1High School Musical is one of my favourite ever film franchises and the best of the three is indisputably the super-camp sequel. But one of the most amazing things about HSM2 (apart from Sharpay's beach wardrobe) is a scene which to this day amazes me for it's sheer brazenness.

The whole of High School Musical is pretty gay itself, without the heaps of homoeroticism featured in the best song of the sequel, 'I don't dance'.

The song is so shockingly obviously about Sharpay's twin brother Ryan and Wildcat basketballer Chad hooking up, I almost feel that this entire thing was directed on a dare.

"Just how gay can we make this without having them blow each other onscreen?" I imagine execs asked. Turns out the answer was a massive 'very'.

For the entirely oblivious, here's a breakdown of the most flagrant of insinuations - if you can even call them that.

The lyrics

'I don't dance' is not even a thinly veiled analogy for gay sex. There is no veil. The veil is non-existent.

Most of us weren't buying Chad and Taylor's lacklustre performance as a couple and were aggressively shipping the far more obvious Chad and Ryan despite it not being 'canonical'.

But I argue the couple is indeed canon. I dare you to defy the reality of their relationship once you've had a look at some of the songs most damning lyrics:

Ryan: You'll never know

Chad: Oh, I know.

Ryan: If you never try.

If you think Ryan is talking about dancing in this scene and not something else, please bear in mind this is the very face he makes at the exact moment he sings that line:

Ryan: Slide home, you score, swingin on the dance floor.

'Sliding home' to 'score' doesn't sound suspect in any way whatsoever. Nothing to see here, folks.

Image 10Ryan: Take your best shot, just hit it.

Oh, I bet you'd like Chad to 'hit it', wouldn't you, Ryan.

Chad: I'll show you how I swing.

Oh come on. Are you guys really going to make me point out the whole 'swings both ways' thing? Don't do this. We're both better than that.

Ryan: Lean back, tuck it in, take a chance.

Swing it out, spin around, do the dance.

Okay, so I think we can all agree: he's clearly talking about Chad's penis in this bit.

Chad: You're talkin' a lot

Show me what you got.

Chad has given in to temptation, guys. I repeat: Chad has given in to temptation.

Ryan: Nothin' to it. Atta boy, atta boy. Yeah.

'Atta boy, atta boy?' I rest my case.

And not to get all GCSE Anthology, but at the most basic level, baseball (which Chad is happy to play) is widely believed to be a 'manly man's' game, and Ryan's hobby, dancing, is still considered the opposite - his attempts to convince Chad to embrace it is a metaphor that practically writes itself. Especially when you consider Chad spends the entire song singing about his disdain for dancing whilst basically doing an audition for the Thriller musical.

Image 6If he's not talking about dancing, what is he on about?

The sexual tension

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. This is by far the closest Disney has ever come to having a male gay couple - the flirting is about as subtle as the lyrics and of course, immortalised in gif form by thirsty Tumblr teens.

But the most intense of interactions takes place even before the song begins:

Just kiss, guys. It would literally be less obvious. Plus you're a far less boring/ vom-inducing couple than Troy and Gabriella anyway.

Even when the song ends, things don't exactly get any less explicit. When Ryan concedes his defeat (not a spoiler because everyone has seen this) Chad chases after him and says:

'I’m not saying I’ll do the talent show. But if I did … what would you have me do?'

Below is Ryan's response:


Oh, and let's revisit the bit where Chad wins the match, reaching home before Ryan and 'accidentally' landing with his head squarely in Ryan’s crotch.

Ryan has basically been well out of the closet since the first film

And in desperate need of a romantic interest. This is without question. Even calling Ryan a 'coded gay' character seems wilfully naive - he's absolutely flaming.

Image 5Since Disney's going to Disney, instead of a boyfriend, Ryan got a terrible pink beret with a matching shirt and a yoga mat. The doll editions of the character are right out of a 'old school one dimensional TV tropes' book - but you can't argue it was pretty clear what they were getting at.

The directors probably thought the inclusion of Kelsi, Ryan's improbable love interest, would throw us off the scent. If anything, his distinct lack of interest in his badly-chosen beard made things even more painfully obvious. Look - he looks absolutely devastated with this charade.

'I don't dance' is basically a hat tip to the viewers disappointed that Ryan still didn't end up getting the guy (because secretly, we know he did).

The baseball analogy

How stupid do Disney think we are? It's just rude they thought the whole baseball thing would fly over our heads en-masse.

One of the most blatant and bare-faced innuendos in the song is the fact the two are playing a game of baseball in which Chad is the 'pitcher' and Chad, the 'catcher'.

As many of us know, the term is often used among gay men to find out whether a man in question is a 'top' or a 'bottom' during sex, with catcher referring to the 'bottom', and pitcher the 'top'.

Time for a petition for a High School Musical 4 that acknowledges their relationship.

The fact literally everyone has noticed this

'I don't dance' leaves very little to the imagination - all the material is already there, so it's hardly a surprise people ship Chad and Ryan (Chyan) on Tumblr, hoarding more evidence for their relationship in a three-minute clip than for Chad and Taylor's in an entire film.

As some astute Tumblrers have already noted, the pair end up getting into each others pants literally, swapping outfits at the end of an already pretty intense scene. The pair chow down on hotdogs (I kid you not) as Chad's 'girlfriend' stands around like a spare part, wondering what the joke is.

And there's fan art. So much fan art:

Image: ninafatina via Tumblr

Image: unelma92 via Deviant Art

Now, I can't really argue that fan fiction and shipping normally means an actual, logical couple. Most fan fiction writers and readers have minds indistinguishable from a sewer pipe (seriously, someone out there is shipping Shrek and Spongebob).

Image 4
Source: www.vpointnews.com
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