On a recent trip to Denver (to totally get stoned LOLJK), I found myself in some giant cathedral that was converted into a five-story dance club. Each level had a different DJ and mood, but the bottom had this chill guy and his girlfriend who, before starting a DJ set, taught the entire audience some basic samba moves. I was far too cross-faded to keep up, so I shuffled along aimlessly for a minute like a moron, but I was deeply grateful to learn a little more about rhythm and movement, i.e. dancing.
Phoenix needs something like that here, because it's obvious someone needs to teach this city to dance. Nearly every show I go to it's the same story: people in the back (or worse, blocking the front), arms crossed, staring at their feet or into their beer, trying real hard to look like they're enjoying the music, but not too much.
Or, even worse, you have wannabe Steven Spielbergs filming the performance with their
Epic-M Red Dragons shitty iPhones or taking shot after shot using "auto settings" on the Canon their parents got them for Christmas. News flash: you ain't Martin Scorsese, this ain't Shine A Light and your Instagram doesn't quite equate to SPIN magazine. And I don't care what xkcd says about "incorrect experiences" - when your phone is blinding me in the face and blocking the stage, you're ruining my experience, so stow that shit before I strangle you.
All this is especially bad at Crescent Ballroom, one of the best venues in this whole stinking city, yet more often than not the atmosphere is about as lively as the Terracotta Army. Why? It isn't the sound system, it isn't the bands, it isn't the drinks. So I guess it must be the saguaro cacti rooted to the ground at each show.
Now, maybe I shouldn't tell you how to enjoy live music, but if you want to pretend to be a lamp, maybe you should go to Ashley Furniture Home Store and stand around there instead. Furthermore, the bands who practice eight hours a day to play their heart and soul for you don't do it so you can gawk from the shadows. These same bands you profess to love so much aren't moving outta state just because of the weather -- maybe it's because you don't act like you give a fuck.
Every person that bitches and moans "wah-wah why doesn't local music get more respect?" needs to take a long, hard look at how they act at shows. And they need to get excited. Here's a few reasons why, followed by some basic dance steps.
Why Dance At Shows?
Why dance? Well, not to sound like a Lee Ann Womack song, but life, or at least nightlife, is kind of boring if you don't let loose once in a while. Why do anything at all? You think you look stupid doing it? Ha, the people that REALLY look stupid are the mongoloids standing on the edges looking like stale turds. If the idea of getting excited and having a good time makes you self-conscious, think of how insecure and lame people are that just stand around like steers waiting to be turned into Big Macs. We should laugh at those people, not the ones that groove weird.
Oh, you don't know how to dance or can't dance well? Well, no shit. Neither can I. And the only reason I get to throw stones in this case is because I'm up at the front more often than not, flailing around like a dork and loving it. No, I don't care what anyone thinks of me. Only when I'm exhausted do I sit out, but usually in such cases I will stay at home altogether. If you're not feeling it, maybe you should too. But if you're not shy, then let's learn how to cut a rug.
Do The D-A-N-C-E 1, 2, 3, 4, Fight!
The first step to getting comfortable on the floor is to get over your dumb self. Ever heard of the Spotlight Effect? It's a pretty common form of social anxiety where you totally overestimate how much everyone around you gives a shit. You're gripped with paranoia and self-doubt that everyone is judging your disco when, in reality, everyone is too consumed by their own inner inhibition that they barely notice you. In other words, people are too distracted or drunk or bored or apathetic to give your dancing much thought.
Once you realize that, the world is your oyster in far more areas than just dance hall. And yeah, you'll probably slip up here and there, but the faster you shrug it off, the faster everyone will forget about it. Heck, I've seen kids in wheelchairs more confident than most of the hipsters I keep bumping shoulders with. It also helps to bring friends, but if your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine.
Practice a lot, either in the mirror or in public. Watch the girl in this viral video. She totally sucks at first, but she eventually became so great that she got a brief moment of internet fame! That fame could be yours!
There are plenty more dance how-to's on YouTube, including these 50 Epic Dance Moves, how to dance Puerto Rico salsa, how to dance at an Afghan wedding, how to dance like a bird, and how to dance like a Chinese acrobat.
When it comes down to it, it's not really about skill. It's about fun. It's about self-confidence and self-control and other self-things. It's about not caring for one second out of your slow spiral into death. And if you're into it, everyone around you will hopefully get into it too.
Obviously, venue and music genre will play a part in the type of dancing you want to do. In other words, you won't be slow dancing at a dubstep show, nor will you be head-banging at a synth-pop blowout. But maybe you should break the rules. Experiment. Screw up. It's worth it.
I remember distinctly when Cursive came through in 2011, Tim Kasher yelled at the crowd for being unenthusiastic. Thing is, I saw plenty of folks that were ready and willing to mosh, but every attempt they made was met with stiff glares.
You wonder why no one wants to tour through Phoenix? Maybe it's less to do with
HB SB 1070 and a lot more to do with how thrilled our crowds act. You only have to go north a few miles to Flagstaff or Prescott to get incredibly rowdy, because those towns are literally starved for even the half-decent shows we have down here. Why don't we turn a new leaf and start getting fucked up and crazy at shows and give every traveling band a night they will never forget and every local band the respect and fervor they deserve. In other words, Phoenix, you need to stop talking the talk and dance the dance.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
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