You Can Dance If You Want To

If you're still complaining about D.C. concert crowds not dancing you either haven't lived here very long or you need to get over it. At this point, there are not other choices. The next Henry Rollins isn't scooping ice cream in Georgetown. So in a city most recently nationally known in rock circles for a crowd just as fast, loud, and out of control as its bands, what happened? Well, we know the end result, so does it matter why it happened? We can begin to prejudge about the people in the crowds until we're blue in the face, but that isn't going to draw the Xs back on your hands or make H.R. somewhat intelligible. (If he ever was.) Sure, maybe Hill staffers are too caught up in legislative minutia to move around at a show, students would rather catch up with their classmates, or soccer moms and dads are too giddy that they found a babysitter in order to pay attention to the music. But we must move on, no matter how difficult it may be. These people must exist in other cities too. We are a passionate people, and not just about politics. We let it be known when we want Dallas, and we have to do the same with the music we love. Although shaking dance floors and balconies isn't in the cards for us just yet, there are some things we can try.

Everyone is going to enjoy live music in different ways. And I'm a firm believer that everyone should be able to coexist as he or she chooses. First and foremost, we must do no harm. If you are the jumping type, try up and down instead of side-to-side. Regardless of your vertical leaping ability, you will take up the same space should you have chosen a more sedentary position. Moshing, if that isn't an entirely antiquated term, should be the will of the people. If the collective decides that they want to spend their evening smashing against each other with great fervor, so be it. If you desire to be the pacifist outlier, it is your responsibility to stand out of the way. As one who likes to avoid the fray, I find that these crowds are far more courteous than most. I am not preaching for new levels of community, just polite symbiosis. I like good music, and so do you. And neither of us enjoy having our feet stepped on or being pushed out of the way as someone else goes barreling towards the rail.

In short, D.C., we must go about our business. This is not to say, however, that we cannot do better. In fact, we must. It's true that in recent years more and more venues have been popping up in metropolitan area. (I am in that silent minority that thinks more venues means more shows, which is good for the concert-going public. But that is a debate for another time.) While the city's concert scene continues to thrive, so do Baltimore's and Richmond's. As time goes on, there are more and more bands who choose our neighbors to the north or south over a stop in the nation's capital. There is plenty of conjecture about why a band would forsake us, but certainly one topic that arises during this debate is the quality of the crowd. Perhaps no one can completely and adequately evaluate such a topic. What makes a suitable audience for the folk show one night does not necessarily apply for the metal show the next night. But let's not make it easy on the artists. We have relied too long on our city's musical history. Having a school and a bridge named after Duke Ellington doesn't make us good fans. It means he was great and D.C. is lucky to call him ours. Our favorite club has national preeminence. Not everyone in this city invested in the location at 815 V Street. So you've been in Marvin or bumped into one of the Ians while walking down Chuck Brown Way? It's cool; I'll be the first to admit it. But let's not rest on our laurels.

Show our favorite musicians that a stop in Maryland, Richmond, or even Pennsylvania is not good enough. If you don't dance, you can still be a friend of mine. There are plenty of other ways to be a respectful member of an audience to both patron and band alike. But for the love of all that is holy, don't make David Yow mad at us again. He scares me.