Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Silent Rave" at Union Square

So i just got back from this "silent rave" thing at Union Square, and let me tell you sir,

The basic premise was that everyone would gather, each bringing their own iPod, or a splitter so they could share with someone at Union Square, and at 5:28 a mass "rave" (really just a danceparty) would break out, lasting till around 11. Get it? So each person would be dancing to their own music. It's, as one friend (from this point on to be referred to as "soulmate friend")put it "very low concept, high accessibility". I missed the beginning of the party, getting there at around 5:45, when there was a loyal but small (maybe around 100 people?) gathering of dancers, and a equally sized crowed gathered around watching, which grew as it got darker to maybe about 500.

See, the original plan was for me to check it out (as both a type of "flash mob" and a FreeNYC even, it was my first time at each), go check out this wireless cafe that i'll probs be working at tomorrow, and then come back later on, once it had gained momentum, IF it looked cool enough for me to join in on. And then MAYBE dance for a little, get home early, etc. Also, i thought that maybe i would meet my soul mate, or even just make a new friend. But i made the mistake of having music on as i walked by. I was coming from the L, so i had my headphones blaring, and i walked up with arms crossed so that it was clear that i was very very cool and quite skeptical about the coolness of the people involved. And i was watching, and my hip starts to bump a little, and my head starts nodding, and before you could say "this event is the opposite of cool but looks like a lot of fun" i'm jumping in towards the middle of the crowd and dancing my heart out. For the next four hours. Clearly, no one parodies me better than myself, when i'm being me seriously.

There's a lot to describe here.
Okay. So it was pretty cool to have so many different types of people dancing together. There were ravers, hip hoppers, hippies, thrashers, breakers, musical theater kids, some old people, cute little babies, people in costumes (banana, safety cone, large hat, and robot respectively), people in groups, people alone, all just doing their thing. More than having lots of different
types of dance altogether (because for the most part, that semi-dancing-semi-standing-around-awkwardly looks the same in any genre) it was really really nice to have all those different people together. I danced with people i would normally never get to dance with. It was nice to to control your own playlist, although sometimes too demanding. I went from hip hop to indie folk to some slow jams, and took a good half hour somewhere in the middle for a pomo+stretching dancebreak.

While i didn't meet my soul mate (i did
find one, and start up a conversation with him - the sentence i posted above - and exchange many more smiles with him as the night went on. But, nothing happened, so he's either gay, shy, or uninterested by very happy in my direction) i did end up dancing with some cool people. Mostly on the outskirts of the group, that's where you find the dancers who are most fun to dance with. Because we need more room! That's where i found Pink Friend and Asian friend, two ladies who were definitely at home rocking out. Which is why i was a little surprised Pink Friend let Creepy Friend slow dance with her, but she pushed him away after he grabbed her ass. Surprisingly the only creepy person of the whole experience though. There were two Sarah Lawrence people there - one dancing and one passing through and stopping to say hi, which was somewhat expected, but still cool to bump into. Also, i bumped into a friend from HIGH SCHOOL who i haven't seen since. Probably one of the more embarrassing places to run into someone, but it was great to see him all the same.

I had a great progression through the night.
It started with a mix of hip hop - mostly outkast, fugees, lauryn hill, and atmosphere - and pop singles (which were both basic club dancing), as well as some indie rock (which was more thrashing and jumping and bopping). After a water break, i moved on to some soulish Amy Winehouse and more rock (getting a little bit more modern - lots of organic cutting lines with my arms and torso). Had a little bit of a slow point shuffling through more indie rock, but then got back on top with a historically incredible succession of songs: Billie Jean, Tell Me When to Go, Under Pressure, Talk to Me Dance With Me, and then Lovefool. I think i had the most fun dancing to the ones where there wasn't really anything to do but be dramatic - acting really stupid in public is highly underrated.

The one thing that did catch my interest was the amount of onlookers and participants taking pictures - it reminded me of my mona lisa experience. So many people trying to capture something that (as you can see from the pictures) really doesn't translate that well once you stop it from moving. There were all sorts, actually. Lots of nightlife photographers, getting shots to sell/post on whatever the big networking site is now, a guy being dragged backwards by his friend through the crowd as he filmed, cell phone shots and pocket digital cameras abounding, and even one guy filming from his mac book. The audience too. Audience....viewers? Everyone wanted a piece to take home. To show to someone and say "this happened!" and really not much more. Hm. It's still really interesting to me.

In short: Cool that something like this (that was all orchestrated on facebook and other networking sites) could happen and not be shut down, cool that it utilizes technology to get people dancing, cool that so many people could have a fun time together. Interesting that people try to capture it - it made me wonder how many of them would go home and blog about it like me - and interesting to watch the audience's reaction. Not for cynics, but very harmlessly fun. I had a great time making a damn fool of myself, and getting a workout that was twice as long as a dance class, and 100% freer. There will probably be lots of shots online in the next day or two - feel free to post links if you find them!

And, last but not least, because it was so so so so good, the sneering hispter carrying Hemingway who got hit in the head with one of the beach balls that was being tossed around, and dropped his book, rolling tobacco, notebook, and sunglases all at once. For serious. Karma, man. That's what you get for sneering at people who are enjoying life.

1 comment:

McGHEE said...

I love the idea of this. I wish I could've been in the city. I'm sure it was cool, but also a mess (lol, imagine hundreds of people dancing to their OWN beat)!