Ficklish Blog

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dance dance revolution.

So in a previous post, I made a cryptic reference to having joined a crazy mob one night a few weeks ago. Let me tell you that story…

I met my friend jPet after work for a drink. I asked where she wanted to go, and she suggested Liverpool Street Station. I thought that was a little odd – it’s out of our way, and, you know, a train station, so not exactly conducive to a festive atmosphere.

Being the agreeable type, I nevertheless agreed. We hopped an easterly Tube and were soon settled in the station pub.

“So, jPet,”
I said. “Why did you want to come here?”

she began, a little sheepishly, “I’m on this email list.”


“Yeah. It’s about stuff that’s going on in London. Apparently something’s going to happen here tonight.”

“Like what?”

She paused. “Um. A bunch of people are going to dance to their iPods in the middle of the station.”

“Really? Huh. You mean like a flash mob or some such?”

“Something like that. I think.”

I was uninspired, but indifferent. I figured it would be a handful of crazy types, running into the station, dancing for a moment and running away again.

“Well, we’re here, we may as well check it out.”


“When is it?”

“Around now.”

We walked out of the pub and turned into the main station concourse. I couldn’t see any crazies, and thought maybe we’d missed it. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it.

“Holy SHIT.”

She turned and followed my pointed finger. “Oh. My. God.”

It was huge. Hundreds and hundreds of people, entirely filling one end of the massive station floor. We wandered down to get a closer look.

Just as advertised, it was a crowd of people, all with headphones on, dancing like there was no tomorrow. So many people. Old and young and travellers and workers, a sweaty, jumping, seething, hollering mass, everyone in their own little bubble going absolutely mental.

“This is so freaking cool.”

“I know!”

A pause. “Are we just going to stand here?”

“I don’t think we can NOT join in.”

That was it. We strapped on our iPods and dove into the fray.

It was one of the best nights I’ve ever had.

It felt fantastic – total abandon in the unlikeliest place. The harsh fluorescent lights, the crowds of elderly tourist spectators lining the mezzanine, the police watching silently from the stairs. There was sheer joy on every face, everyone utterly exhilarated and grinning deliriously at the randomness of it all, revelling in the instant camaraderie of the crowd. It was like the best dance party you’ve ever been to: every song is your favourite. It was the straightest high of my life.

At one point I turned to jPet and said:

“I have no idea what we’re doing, but I know it’s fucking fun.”

Many people had obviously had more warning of the event than I – they turned up in crazy costumes and plentiful supplies of beer and snacks. Others had obviously stumbled across the spectacle by accident, and were dancing away in their business attire. One guy had his tie wrapped around his head. There were those with the show pony moves, others swaying gently in one spot.

At one point I took my earbuds out: the sound was amazing – stomping feet, raucous cheering and gleeful laughter – but no music. jPet said later that it occurred to her that this event was a perfect metaphor for our generation: there was a sense of community and shared experience but it was an essentially selfish, totally individual activity. We were so connected, but everyone was alone.

I learned that my iPod doesn’t have nearly enough excellent dance music. The Kaiser Chiefs worked well, so did the Go Team. I did some Curtis Mayfield, some Kool & the Gang, some Run DMC. Next time I'll make a playlist.

Everyone was moving to a different beat, hard as I tried to work out if anyone could possibly be dancing to the same song as I was, it was impossible to tell. At one stage, jPet and I couldn’t resist dancing to the same song at once. We cued it up, pressed play and then went off into our own little worlds, knowing that at least one other person was having exactly the same experience.

Cameras flashed left and right, my boogying arse is in a thousand photos (like this one here). In fact, both jPet and I featured in a Where’s Wally-type shot in the papers the following evening. I cut out a copy of the photo and have filed it away with a bundle of other souvenirs of this crazy, random place.

I have so often wanted to do exactly this so often – I’ll be walking to work in the mornings and can’t resist jauntifying my stride at a particularly catchy tune. I never actually stop and dance, though, and this made me wish I did it all the time. It was like living out a fantasy. There were plenty of people joining in without earphones – the mood of the crowd was irresistibly infectious.

Adding to the overall surreality was the fact that every time I looked up, I could see a giant TV news screen broadcasting the days’ headlines. I’d dance a little, look up and notice that a plane had crashed into a building in New York. More dancing, Madonna has adopted a baby. More dancing, some football scores. If I turned in the other direction my gaze would follow the huge train timetable screen: dance dance dance, there goes the train to Lowestuft.

Holy hell, it was fun. I’ve never been part of such an ecstatically delirious crowd before – everybody going wildly crazy and grinning at each other in sheer, unadulterated delight.

After about an hour, dripping with sweat, elated and exhilarated beyond belief, we withdrew and returned to the pub. Good gracious, it was awesome. I love this city.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't see you in that photo! Are you sure you were there?

It is my understanding that sometimes bored (maybe homesick) travellers will hear about something that happened near to where they are travelling and claim to have taken part so to appear somewhat ‘cool’ to their friends back home. It is also my understanding that the contributor to this blog has been struggling over the last few days to ensure that she has sufficient articles to write about so to remain in a certain competition.

Now I am not accusing, just posing the question in everyone’s mind.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Greeny said...

Aren't you glad that I dropped that Go team, Curtis and Kool onto your iPod before you left! I knew it would come in handy. Seriously, cool-holy-shit-type of thing.

12:50 AM  
Blogger jLo said...

Kloss: your scepticism wounds me. Deeply. If you scroll on a couple of photos you can see me more clearly.

(Well, you probably can't. But it amuses me to think of you trying).

Greeny: you literally rock my world.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jLo - Glassed!

10:51 PM  
Blogger Jackie said...

I LOVE this story. I love it. It gives me an excited, I-am-not-so-postmodern-marginalised-as-I-thought kind of feeling. You just participated in ART, in a gyrating statement about society, as well as an awesome-fun sounding dance party. That's cool.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Greeny said...

yeah, what she said.

2:34 AM  

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