The desperate dance

FI-Robert-WalshThe Dancing Girl appears as if conjured from some ethereal Burning Man Festival. She sidles toward the stage in full body gyration, lost in a trance while she makes her way up the side aisle. Her advancing age is hidden behind her commitment to her moves (and several layers of blush). She settles directly in front of the performer, all flailing arms and tossed hair in her worship. The man she exalts onstage is a folk singer in the middle of a ballad.

A folk singer.

I used to expect this sort of thing at a Grateful Dead show, maybe with Phish or other jam bands. But, does a folk show need interpretive dancers? What’s next, pirouetting in front of the eighth grade chorale performance? It’s a small acoustic concert, not an MTV Dance Party.

Visits from Dancing Girl are becoming all too common. I use the term “girl” in relation to her affect, not her age — she’s somehow freed herself from the bonds of common courtesy in pursuit of euphoria. Whereas I feel bad getting up to go to the bathroom during a concert because of the inconvenience it causes, this dancing fool has no problem blocking the view of those seated in the front rows. She’s blissfully unaware that those who paid three times her price for a ticket might actually want to see the artist perform.

Like any infestation, others soon join. They see in the Dancing Girl a silent invitation to step into the spotlight, to feed the yawning holes inside their self-esteem. “Look at me!” their dancing screams. They flutter toward the stage, moths to the musical flame. Soon, the chorus line of the rude is twirling, chins up and eyes closed, directly in front of the stage. They obviously believe themselves transparent to those whose view they’re blocking, happily losing themselves in the fantasy world of the obnoxious.

Evidently, that slow tune about star-crossed lovers just wouldn’t touch the audience without a bevy of be-sweated women displaying themselves like day-old vegetables to the band. (“Pick me! Pick meeee!”) We get it — you really enjoyed those drinks you had before the show. Because we can’t turn back time and fire your bartender for what he’s unleashed on the rest of us, we’re forced to deal with you now.

Dancing in front of a stage is not a new phenomenon; it’s been a staple of rock shows since Woodstock. However, this plague is appearing at smaller and smaller venues. A recent concert at the intimate Stage One Theatre in Fairfield saw a swarm of suburban Rockettes surrounding the stage like Freud’s “Id” army. The worst seat in the house is still closer to the stage than anything they’d get at the Meadowlands, but they seemed determined to try to sit in the lead singer’s lap.

It’s perfectly natural to dance at a concert; it’s just that many people with a social conscience dance at their seats or in the side aisles. Unfortunately, the Dancing Girl was born with a silver spork in her mouth. She dances frantically, desperately — a middle finger to her own mortality (and to the rest of the audience).

I don’t have a problem with dancing — I’m not the preacher from Footloose. I appreciate standing up and singing Sweet Caroline at the ball game as much as the next guy. Having said that, if you want to do the “Chicken Dance” while blockading the stage, save it for a wedding reception. No one cares if you block the DJ.


You may read more at and contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @RobertFWalsh.

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