You Make Me Dance delivered a fantastic production, in the same way all the Korean BLs have provided thus far, offering viewers exceptional film quality, great acting, and an engaging, original, and adult storyline.
And yet, as much as I wanted to love it, I found myself disconnected from the series.
You Make Me Dance centers around Song Shi On, a contemporary dance student with growing debt, and Jin Hong Seok, a loan shark at the company where Shi On owes money. From the start, the story is alluring. If a BL drama or film centered around a debtor and his creditor exists, I have not seen it, so the concept immediately drew me in. The fact that Shi On is also a dancer only expounded on this excitement. I love dance. Although I have minimal experience in the field, I’ve always found dance to be a beautiful form of art. As a child, I spent hours inside a dance studio, trying desperately to channel my emotions. I have an aunt who danced professionally, and I was always in awe of her movements and the way she told stories with her body. After a few years, I realized dance wasn’t something I connected to the same way she did. Writing was my true calling. An empty page called to me the same way an empty stage called to my aunt. But I never lost my love for the art of dance.
You Make me Dance offered viewers a look into a harsh world dominated by competition and heartache, a world that only the truly passionate would be willing to navigate.
Except it didn’t.
Like all of the recent Korean BLs, this drama is a quick, short watch, so I will refrain from detailing the plot and instead focus on what set it apart and what kept it just short of being great.
You Make Me Dance reminded me of an anticipated mail delivery.
Picture this … you’ve ordered this fabulous box set you’ve been dying to own. It costs too much because all of the good box sets usually do, and you’re okay with that because it’s everything. One day you get a notification that a parcel is being delivered, and suddenly you are in the moment, that moment when you know you are about to receive the package you’ve been waiting weeks to accept because it is filled with all of the extra fandom stuff you love. The postal worker drops it off, you sign for it, and then you rip it open. And there it is. It’s perfect. The high-quality pictures included in the set make you giddy. The poster folded up inside the cover makes you squeal with happiness. You start pulling things out of the box and setting them in a worshipful line on your counter: the DVDs, the mini photobook, the poster, and then … nothing. There was supposed to be an acrylic stand and a T-shirt included in the set, but they are not there. You look everywhere, but nothing.
You Make Me Dance is that box set for me. The cinematography is terrific. The lead actors, Chu Young Woo and Won Hyung Hoon, are incredibly talented with fiery chemistry that leaps off the screen. The story told is original. I liked how the drama opened with the two men sitting on a bus listening to the same radio show, the host detailing a story about love, fate, and the red thread that binds people together. In a warm, romantic moment, Shi On and Hong Seok lift their pinkies simultaneously, as if the same red thread ties them together. It is beautiful.
The story progresses, and I highly anticipated each new scene, each sizzling moment I knew was going to happen between them. However, just like the box set with the absent acrylic stand and T-shirt, You Make Me Dance had pieces missing that left me feeling disconnected and disappointed.
The main reason behind this disappointment is the length. There was a lot of story to tell in You Make Me Dance, a lot of emotional connections that should have been fully explored with a more in-depth focus on dance and why dancing meant the world to Shi On. But there was no time.
After the first episode, I realized You Make Me Dance felt like it was racing against an invisible clock. I got glimpses into Shi On’s desperation, his loneliness over his mother’s abandonment, and his need for dance. Still, this was overshadowed by how quickly the show needed to resolve everything. On the other hand, loan shark Hong Seok is immediately drawn to Shi On and his loneliness. After all, he’s lonely, too, stuck inside a job he doesn’t love, a position he wants to escape. He quickly inserts himself into Shi On’s life, moving into Shi On’s rooftop apartment as Shi On prepares for a big dance audition that could change everything.
This entire plot should have been romantic, and it was. Except it all happened so fast, it felt like I was missing what could have been a seriously fantastic build-up to an inseparable relationship.
For those who follow me online, it is no secret that I’m becoming frustrated with the length of the Korean BLs. At first, the dramas were a novelty. South Korea offered us fantastic and potent BL web dramas that left us in awe, feeling butterflies long after the series ended. The first few dramas felt complete and satisfying. They were precisely what many viewers needed. They didn’t require a lot of commitment, but they offered more quality and chemistry than many of the long dramas airing.
But then the stories got larger while the length of the web dramas didn’t. Plot holes started to form. Disconnections began to happen.
To put it simply, You Make Me Dance deserved more time. The story it was trying to tell needed more than the short eight episodes offered.
This lack of length created the foundation for where my biggest disappointment lies: The dance.
For a drama centered around Shi On’s passion for dancing, the series delved only shallowly into his story. Rather than resolving the issues with his mother that later drives him, You Make Me Dance inserted sporadic dance moments to pull the romance forward.
A broken dance bar.
A stunned Hong Seok watching Shi On dance.
A sweaty, intense dance moment between Shi On and his rival.
A light bulb moment when Shi On suddenly realizes what dance he wants to show at the audition.
Although actor Chu Young Woo does an impressive job with the dancing, the drama gave us only random dance scenes that did little to build the kind of connection and beauty I grew to love as a child when watching my aunt fly across an empty stage. I wanted to connect with Shi On because I understood him. I have lived on my own since I was sixteen-years-old. My mother remarried when I was sixteen and moved out to live with her husband. I didn’t necessarily feel abandoned because she communicated her plans with me, and she and her husband didn’t live far from where I lived. But the loneliness swallowed me whole. I turned to writing to fill the void, and while I sensed the same need with dance in Shi On, there wasn’t enough time to truly explore it.
The same applies to Hong Seok. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to know and understand the loan shark enough in this series. There is a complexity to him that caused him to connect with Shi On. They understand each other, and I wanted to see more of that connection, more back story, along with a fuller current story to tie it all together neatly.
In conclusion, I wanted the T-shirt and the acrylic stand I should have gotten in my box set, but I didn’t find it. You Make Me Dance delivered the same kind of fantastic drama all of the other Korean mini-dramas have offered us, but Shi On and Hong Seok deserved much more time on screen. The bigger the story, the longer and more extensive the episodes need to be to pull it all together.
I highly recommend this Korean BL series for the quick, romantic watch it offers, but I genuinely hope that stories this full and complex start getting the longer episodes they deserve.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5