Dance circles are a phenomenon of the highest order. Like: a single person singing that somehow turns into a full blown sing along, people running when they hear gunshots, or strangers stopping to look at a guy on the ledge of a high rise building. Whether they’re saying “jump!” or “don’t jump” it’s still an organic unplanned gathering of people with a single focus.
A while back I had the pleasure of being the catalyst for the most rare form of dance circle. The “something from nothing” dance circle that forms instantly when people in the room weren’t even dancing. I had a co-conspirator in this endeavor. Although neither of us really conspired to have a party breakout around us. I was in Portland at the Bridgetown Comedy festival. All the shows were done for the evening and all the strange people who do stand-up and the even stranger people who follow us around were standing around talking and drinking. Music was playing but it was being treated like white noise. One of my good friends and biggest dance rival, Baron Vaughn happened to be there. Baron is the only comic I can very begrudgingly say can dance as good as me. The last statement really hurt but I think it suggests growth. Anyway, Baron and I were not dancing. When in Portland…
Then a really good song came on. Baron, who’s also Black, and I locked eyes. It seemed the dance off we’ve been threatening to have for the last few years was about to really go down. We started pop locking and within 10 seconds a massive circle had formed around us. I think I know what it’s like when a revolution breaks out or a riot or anything else that was bubbling under the surface but just needed an inciting incident. Baron and I doing our best “re-run” dance sparked a movement.
I think Baron and I shared another unspoken agreement. We both became a little uncertain about the implications of two of the only black guys at the festival being in the middle of a dance circle surrounded by hipsters. Not sure of the implications, we agreed, without words, that the dance off would have to wait. With a wave of his hand Baron invited the others to enter the circle. What had been no dancing was suddenly, within half a song, a room with everyone dancing. A full blown party. Baron and I, our work being done, actually dipped out of the party shortly after with the party now in full swing. I didn’t need to see the party through. I knew it would jump for the rest of the night. Bridgetown, you’re welcome.
Flash mobs, while impressive, are planned. They’re not a simultaneous action agreed upon by many people without a word being spoken. Wedding receptions don’t count either by the way. A dance circle at a reception is obligatory at this point. It’s basically planned but everyone acts like it just happened. Kind of like Justin Bieber’s meteoric rise. Phenomenon’s don’t have marketing plans. All Baron and I had was Electric Boogaloo and a dream.
Some other blog entries about Dancing: