CRAIG BROWN: Corbyn, Brexit…Don’t worry, be happy and do the conga!

CRAIG BROWN: Corbyn, Brexit, transport chaos …Don’t worry, be happy and do the conga!

Never has there been such an urgent need to find the secret of happiness. 

Railway stations and airport terminals are packed with men and women feeling anxious, or bored, or a bit of both.

Most of them do not know each other, so they also feel lonely, which in turn increases their anxiety and their boredom. 

Even their shared dislike of Chris Grayling is not enough to give them any real sense of unity.

And when large groups of people do happen to know each other, they are often not on speaking terms, or, perhaps worse, only on shouting terms.

The Prime Minister could ask the various EU leaders to form a crocodile and conga until dawn

This week, the Labour Party conference is full of Corbynites refusing to speak to anti-Corbynites, and vice-versa.

Next week, the Conservative Party conference will be packed with Brexiteers and Remainers, each group looking sourly the other way as they pass one another in the corridors.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Brexit negotiations rumble on, with all the participants looking increasingly fed up. 

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And in America, group shots taken with the President tend to feature 50 men in suits looking awkward and shifty in the background and President Trump out in front with a fixed grin on his face like a Halloween pumpkin.

So it looks as if I have discovered the secret of universal happiness just in time. Luckily, it is a secret so simple that it can be communicated in a single, five-letter word. 


The conga is the only dance for which absolutely no skill is needed. No sense of style or even rhythm is expected, and there is no room for self-expression

 At a party at the weekend I bossily told the 100 or so partygoers to create a line. Then I got each person to hold onto the waist of the person in front of them, with me as King Pin at the head.

The disc-jockey put on a suitably jaunty piece of music — Ra-Ra-Rasputin by Boney M — and off we set, jogging along to the beat from room to room in our crocodile formation. 

Granted, we were all friends, and already pretty cheerful, but our joy immediately multiplied tenfold. Why should this be?

The conga is the only dance for which absolutely no skill is needed. No sense of style or even rhythm is expected, and there is no room for self-expression. 

Strictly speaking, you are meant to perform a side-kick with first one leg, then the other, on every fourth beat — One, two, three, kick! One, two, three, kick! — but, in my experience, no one can be bothered. 

Instead, your only task is to joggle along in a crocodile, holding onto the person in front of you.

The Prime Minister could conga (normally so nervily self-conscious in the public arena, particularly when dancing) then who can doubt that the world would be a much happier place

 Consequently, everyone performs it entirely unselfconsciously. It is also the least introspective of dances: I defy anyone to take part in a conga and continue to nurse a grievance, or to harbour a regret.

At this party, we conga-ed into four different rooms, around the sides, and out again, so that every few seconds the dancers would whizz past each other in a doorway, shouting greetings along the way.

Every now and then, someone would lose their grip and the train would come apart in the middle, so that the back half had to race to re-attach itself. But this only added to the merriment.

 In fact, we all enjoyed it so much that, before the party was over, we had performed four separate congas, each one longer and more raucous.

In some ways, it resembled a religious movement. A conga would be started by just five or six enthusiasts, but as it swept through the quiet room, the disco-room and the drinks room, everyone would willingly stop what they were doing to be swept along in its wake.

So there we have it: the secret of happiness is the conga. Spread the word! 

If every rail or air passenger staring hopelessly at the Departures board could be encouraged to down tools and conga their way through the concourse, up and down the escalators, into the VIP lounge, through the Duty Free shops and back again, then they would find their troubles alleviated, if only for a while.

A conga at the current party conferences would transform enmity into jollity. There is no time or reason to plot when you are busy with a conga.

And if, at her next Brexit meeting, the Prime Minister (normally so nervily self-conscious in the public arena, particularly when dancing) could ask the various EU leaders — Come on, Michel! Up sticks, Angela! You too, Emmanuel!’ — to form a crocodile, and conga until dawn, then who can doubt that the world would be a much happier place.

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