Perspectives: Actually, Dance Like Someone Is Watching, Please

An open letter to the person enthusiastically swaying next to me at the Flock of Seagulls concert.
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Dear Passionate Dancer,

I’m sorry to have to confront you like this. It brings me no joy to make you feel awkward for having a good time. Yet I feel something must be said: Your gyrations made it very difficult for me to enjoy the Flock of Seagulls concert at Jergel’s last week.

I don’t want to seem like a curmudgeon. I know that this letter will come off as a missive from the fun police — as confirmation that I, a dull, non-dancing square, need to lighten up and enjoy myself.

I assure you: In this and many regards, I am well aware that I could use a slight loosening. Still, I must tell you that the nature of your swaying — the careening, dance-floor dominating journey of your steps — went far beyond the bounds of proper dance in a concert environment.

See, there were plenty of other people near you that had this figured out.

There were many new-wave fans in attendance who, unlike you, kept their back-and-forth to the standard, acceptable radius of movement at a crowded concert (it’s roughly two-and-one-half butt widths). There were other people who understood that the elbows are generally to be kept at one’s sides, so as to not inadvertently commit mild assault on one’s neighbors. There were folks who managed to physically express their appreciation for the somber, synth-heavy music of A Flock of Seagulls without whipping their hair around as if they were trying to dislodge a wayward sparrow.

That wasn’t what you were doing, though. You were a pendulum of arms and hips, not so much dancing as bounding like Tigger exploring the Hundred-Acre Wood. As founding Seagulls frontman Mike Score sang “Space Age Love Song,” a tune I am not too proud to admit has brought me to tears in the past, I was busy searching the Jergel’s dance floor for safe harbor from the beverage you kept almost flailing into my temple.

I know that you were not the only one chewing up territory last Wednesday night — in fact, while I am addressing this letter to one particular reveler, there were at least four of you in sight. There’s usually a handful — never none, and rarely more than five or six. You can identify them from afar — they’re the ones causing everyone around them to repeatedly back away, shifting the overall location of the crowd backward. (I moved an impressive 15 feet to get away from you, for example.)

In fact, if your routine were completely unique, I wouldn’t bother with this letter. If this were a random case of an excited (and, let’s be honest,  overly intoxicated) person embarrassing themselves at a suburban concert venue, it wouldn’t be worth the comment. But because there is always a handful of you present, it’s worth addressing.

We have been told, by low-resolution Facebook memes and inexpensive home decor, to “dance like no one is watching.” This is, in fact, terrible advice for most situations. While there is a place for unrestrained, utterly self-motivated movement, it occurs when … well, when no one is watching. You’re alone in your house and you’re moved by “I Ran (So Far Away),” go for it — shimmy around your own private property like a significantly less coordinated Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.”

Are there literally people watching? Are there people standing near you, in fact? Then please: Dance like someone is watching. Dance like someone else is minding their own business. Dance like you appreciate that your need to free your restrained spirit does not supersede my need to listen to A Flock of Seagulls without being inadvertently trod upon.

I assure you: Being decent will not ruin your good time. And, as a bonus, it will make your friends more likely to invite you to the next ’80s throwback show to roll through Warrendale.

Because your friends looked a bit annoyed at you, too. Kix is playing Jergel’s in a few weeks. Don’t make them go without you.


An Admitted Buzzkill

Categories: Collier’s Weekly