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    To Dance or Not To Dance

    Brain C.

    My very first opportunity to dance with a real live girl in public I completely fouled up. I was in 6th grade at the public school as a guest of my public school friend. I was completely shy and a group of girls approached me and acted as a mouthpiece for a girl named Darlene who wanted to know if I'd like to dance with her. Panic hit me like assorted kitchen utensils and I politely declined, stating, "I can't Dance". It was a remark I was to rue in the ensuing years when puberty hit me full force and I constantly thought back to that night when I could have touched a girl, at least for a few moments.

    "I thought that they were bored out of their skulls but it turns out they were having a ball" - Dismemberment Plan
    'Do The Standing Still'
    Today I still can't dance. But I do whenever the opportunity presents itself. I owe my lack of dancing inhibitions to my friends, who likewise shabbily bust moves whenever possible. I remember many a night at Tania Alvarez' house, dancing to the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat" as Scott Visco, wielding a pool cue, mimed the very act in time with the music. Or New Year's Eve in Ernie Kim's basement dancing to "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by the Police.

    Perhaps my fondest dancing memory comes from the third Lollapalooza during Dinosaur Jr.'s set. Throughout the 45 minute performance, 3/4 of the AKU (myself included) screamed at the top of our lungs for the prehistoric beasts to play "Sludgefeast", the song we covered in our own shows. We were pretty far away from the stage in the midst of several thousand people so there was no way they could have heard us.

    Yet for their finale', J.Mascis and Co. answered our pleas and launched into that very song. So overcome were we with excitement and adrenaline, that the three of us began to rock out in the most insane way imaginable. Not in a slam dancing way (which was in fashion), but in a purely physical form, as if our bodies had become the channels thru which the heavy feast flowed. Suddenly the crowd, several thousand strong slowly backed away from us. Most times when one rocked out independently, he/she ran the risk of getting checked by annoying meatheads out to destroy any form of fun (and there were plenty at this festival).

    Instead, the crowd, either by fear or disgust or just plain dumbfoundedness, backed away and watched while we flailed and leapt; as we assumed our Iron Maiden rock-guitar stance (which we did live) for the second part of the song, for that long, wah-wah solo.
    "This is one thing that puzzles me, my brother; What's wrong with all these people?!?" - Flavor Flav
    'Bring The Noise'
    After it was done, people came up to us and patted us on the back, saying we made the show for them.

    So perhaps this explains my own puzzlement. How can people stand in the presence of a powerhouse group like the Wicked Farleys or sell out a club to see the Dismemberment Plan and not seem to have ANY kind of physical reaction to this amazing music?

    When I first arrived in the Boston area, I didn't have any friends but forced myself to go to shows alone. Eventually, I began rocking out as if my buddies were by my side. A guy approached me at a D-Plan show and said he recognized me, not from my own band, but as the "Dancing Guy" that was at their last show. He told me he was hoping I'd show up.

    I can understand the idea that perhaps such music and performance is such a sensory overload that it may leave people with blown minds. I understand the reluctance to move about when the lingering fear of getting checked by meatheads still pervades.

    "Here's what I want you all to do: Feel the Groove, Bust a Move" - DJ Yella (NWA)
    'Something to Dance To'
    For example, a completely opposite Dino Jr. experience occurred when I saw them in a club around 1994-5. "Mosh pits" had become legitimized by MTV and Spin magazine and ANY and EVERY show, regardless of genre, volume or heaviness had an obligatory "mosh pit" or "crowd surfer". Usually, the "moshers" or surfers" were either complete novices at their first show, thinking that that was what you had to do OR meatheads who came to the show specifically to hurt people in the guise of "slam dancing".

    The dancers at this particular show were equal parts of both these factions. Although much of the music did not warrant any dancing, the amount of stage divers onstage (waving at their friends instead of jumping) outnumbered the band by about 7 to 1. I over heard two shirtless jocks congratulate each other for slamming, one saying "That's what its all about, man!"

    So perhaps you non-dancers out there have similar memories. I understand. But times have changed. The underground music is underground again. Most clubs have a ban on slamming. The meatheads have Korn, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit shows to pummel one another at.

    "Dance everybody... c'mon and Dance" - E.Kim 'Dance Track' Reese's Peanus IV
    In the meantime, don't be afraid to let yourself go; to express yourself to your favorite music in whichever fashion you chose (even if it aint dancing). Kevin Bacon fought long and hard for our right to cut loose and kick off our Sunday shoes. Hopefully you'll understand why you might see me trying to eat the stage monitor at the next Les Savy Fav show. Perhaps I won't understand why you'd be there simply watching... but I'll try. But don't be shy. Don't let your shiny skin color or your fear of insults prevent your from getting the most of your rock experience.

    Written By: Sir Brian C.