Everybody (don’t) cut loose: 5 dance moves common at Milwaukee shows
Anyone who has attended a decent number of rock shows at our city’s bevy of music venues knows that dancing is not common. Whether it’s the sense of angst and dread that attaches itself to music in the post-Radiohead age or simply a lack of proper nutrition, most kids just will not dance to the music. If you look around, though, you can still see a few people struggling to either let their inner-Kevin Bacon out or keep that inner-Kevin Bacon bottled up. This naturally becomes its own kind of dancing. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the common styles.
The Glass Case Of Emotion
Distinguishing characteristics: Sudden jerks and turning the head from side to side, but within a constricted radius.
Repressing or letting out the inner Kevin Bacon? Letting out, and with so much emotion. Years of frustration, job searches, and shiftless puttering to music all start to bubble to the surface. You’ll see a person jerk and spasm in a way that’s reminiscent of how Ron Burgundy lost his shit in a phone booth after Baxter got punted. You might even see some wincing and hear some faint whining sounds, sort of like Conor Oberst doing karaoke to James Brown’s “Sex Machine.”
The Appreciative Nod
Distinguishing characteristics: Nodding the head to the beat in a show of approval. Head-nodding will often be accompanied by the folding of the arms, which signifies seriousness of intent, and/or having to go to the bathroom.
Repressing or letting out the inner Kevin Bacon? Mostly repressing, because, well, let’s just say this one ain’t too physically demanding. Busted out most often by the serious devotee of your local mousey soft-to-bombastically loud post-rock band, this dance was developed over years of Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor shows. It’s said to have been attempted at a number of Tortoise shows back in the day, but the cerebral force of the music was so strong that several concertgoers did permanent damage to their neck muscles.
The Dancer In The Dark
Distinguishing characteristics: Dancing exactly like Courtney Cox in the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”
Repressing or letting out the inner Kevin Bacon? Letting out. So you’re minding your business, nodding your head appreciatively and then BAM!—it’s like you’re at some ’50s sock hop. (You can almost see John Lithgow going apoplectic and sermonizing at this spectacle.) And for the coup-de-fuckin’-gras, someone actually kicks that Bourbon Barrel Stout out of your hand. Now you have no drink, and you start to hate these young people with their exuberant dancing. You’re left standing there, suddenly repressing your inner Gary Busey.
The Lonely Girl/Boy
Distinguishing characteristics: Tossing the body around and trying hard not to be noticed. This dance really could be anything—the important characteristic here is the “alone” part.
Repressing or letting out the inner Kevin Bacon? Letting out. This dance is a dance of real courage, incorporating feelings of pathetic sexual frustration with the innate need to shake your booty (similar to The Glass Case Of Emotion). On the other hand, maybe The Lonely Girl/Boy is just waiting for someone to come back with her or his drink. The next time you see a person dancing alone, wait until they’re all tuckered out and then buy them a drink, and tell them the world needs more people who refuse to let weird looks get in the way of getting one’s groove on.
Distinguishing characteristics: Standing there, possibly in a small space surrounded by actual dancers.
Repressing or letting out the inner Kevin Bacon? Repressing. This anti-dance is done not out of antipathy for dancing itself, but for all other people. This might be the dance of choice for the dude who just lost his Oatmeal Stout to somebody else’s body movement. The idea is to show just how seriously you take the music by not allowing the body to move in any way whatsoever. These dancers should be careful, however, because if the music gets too erotic, another dancer might start using The Pole for grinding purposes.