When I came across this writing prompt, I discovered that dancing has actually been a larger part of my life than I even realized. The type of dancing, accompanied by the type of music I am dancing to, has evolved drastically three different times over the course of my life. It all started with middle school…
Middle school, and even high school, dances were uncomfortable events that I felt obligated to go to for some reason. Those years of being constantly judged and embarrassed combined with class dances were a toxic combination. Especially considering the music playing at these dances during my time there in the 2000s.
It was mostly completely raunchy rap music, and all of the popular songs had similar heavy, quick bass lines. These beats from the Ying Yang Twins, Nelly, Lil John, and many other’s music popularized the equally raunchy dance style known as grinding. At my school, chaperones attempted to keep this very sexual style of dancing under control, but they didn’t have a chance against the raging hormones in these teenagers dryhumping to “Get Low.”
This first impression of dancing in my life was not a pleasant one. It was awkward, it stressed me out, and it gave me the inevitable feeling of worry, and almost guilt, to go with the idea of dancing.
Toward the end of high school, electronic music and dubstep had blown up, and my friends and I were introduced to a new style of dancing.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went to my first Bassnectar show. I enjoyed this new style of music for me that consisted of heavy womps, screeches, and other obnoxious noises. What I enjoyed about this music was the large number of layers in a song, and that the DJ made each one of these layers individually, and he played them all together to make a very complex beat. It amazed me. These songs were usually full of build ups followed by loud, extreme “drops.”
The dancing at these shows was completely different than anything I expected. Basshead veterans were dressed in crazy outfits with glowsticks bouncing and jerking with the bass. The DJ controls the entire crowd and their dance moves. It is intense to see 20,000 people bouncing, literally so packed that they are on top of one another, around a DJ who is moving them to lose themselves in his music.
My basshead phase completely changed my take on dancing. It was normal to get weird at these shows, and no one is judging or watching you as you dance. It was a polar opposite to the dancing I had previously seen in my short life. The phase did not last long, however, because that music is intense and loud, and I eventually found it overwhelming and annoying as I graduated to more of a jam band taste in music.
I started to get older and have more respect for bands who were known for live performances. My interest moved from computer generated music toward several people coming together and making music on the spot. I listened to a lot of Grateful Dead, and I became interested in bands in anyway similar to what the Dead represented, such as Phish, Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident, etc.
This kind of music introduced the final stage of dancing that I have reached thus far in my journey. These bands, specifically Phish, play the same song different each time they play it live. They go into jams in the middle of songs that last up to 20 minutes, then they play a piece of another song, and then they come back and finish the song they started with. You never know what to expect to an extent at this kind of show.
I’ve learned that at jam band shows there is a typical rule to the dancing, and it can actually be seem quite clearly in the picture of the front row of a Phish show above. Each individual gets a box around them. The box is usually about 2 feet by 2 feet. The rule is, you feel the music and dance however it moves you, but you must stay in your box. You can step to each corner and to the middle however you want, but you have to stay in your box. People get pretty far out there at these shows, and some of the dancing you might see looks like yoga. But no one is judging, and there is a sense of family among the fans in the crowd.
I’d say the evolution of dancing in my life was in the chronological order I needed it to be. It’s easy to see the progression of age running consistently with the progression of dancing along the journey. I wonder where dancing might take me next…
Thanks for the prompt: You Should Be Dancin’