Sometimes I worry about my fellow Utahns. Do you think it’s possible to die of being too uptight?
I went out tonight even though “going out” is not really my forte. One of my favorite bands of ever, Hey Rosetta!, was opening a show at In the Venue, and although that’s not exactly my favorite place in the world, I figured if one of my favorite bands could come all the way from Newfoundland, I could probably drag myself out of the house to see them. I was pretty excited about this excursion, even though I was going out by myself and would end up texting half the night just to appear slightly less forever alone. (This strategy doesn’t work, by the way. Everybody totally knows you’re forever alone, and texting your friends in Canada only reminds you of how lame it is that you don’t live in Canada.) I spent my workday humming “Welcome” to myself and chair-dancing. I’m not proud. Hopefully nobody saw me.
The band’s set was awesome, in case you were wondering. The club was absurdly hot, the sound system was slightly embarrassing, but if there’s one thing that Hey Rosetta! knows how to do, it’s very gently rocking your face off. (In the best way, though. Like, they blow your mind in a totally considerate fashion.)
It’s entirely possible I was the only person there just to see the opening act, and entirely possible I was the only one there who had ever heard Hey Rosetta! before, and for awhile as I watched the stone-still crowd I was kind of worried that maybe none of these people were going to appreciate the native songs of Newfoundland… it’s always more fun when you can share the things you love with others. Of course, the awesomeness of Hey Rosetta! is an unstoppable juggernaut of truth that cannot be denied; the crowd seemed to be digging it, and between songs their enthusiasm and appreciation was evident. But they still were not moving. I am familiar with this phenomenon because I’ve been to a few other shows since moving back to Utah, but I still can’t get used to it. For awhile there, I was worried that I’d unwittingly stumbled into some sort of theme night. Like maybe we were all supposed to be pretending to be exhibits at a wax museum, or possibly we were playing a game of red light green light and nobody was in charge to give us a green light. A couple times I saw one or two people bobbing their heads. (Solidarity, brothers!) Otherwise, as far as I could tell, I was the only almost-dancer in the room, and I wasn’t doing much more than swaying and giving my hips an undoubtedly embarrassing shimmy. (By Utah standards, I believe this is the equivalent of being drunk, high and godless all at the same time.)
Look, I know what it’s like. I’m a native, and in my time away from the beehive state I came to embrace the place that my heritage has given me in the greater social scheme of things, which generally consisted of being the most unhip, uncoordinated person in any given room. Utah is all about repression, and you can’t help but absorb that shit like a sponge when you grow up here. I’ve come to terms with it. But I feel like every time I go out to see a show around here, the entire audience steals my gig by being very Utahn and very white and refusing to move at all, ever. And then I feel pressured to set an example somehow — look! Dancing is allowed! — but I don’t actually know how to dance so then I just get insecure and what I’m saying is, your refusal to dance is bad for my self-esteem.
I know it’s rough, you guys. I know there’s not a lot of space. I know dancing can be awkward and weird. You can start small. Bob your head. Tap your foot. Let your hips get in on the action. I know it seems a little sinful but that kid in Footloose had some pretty convincing arguments about why God would be down with you dancing, and personally I trust Kevin Bacon’s research and believe it to be impeccable. Nobody’s going to judge you for getting your groove on. When I go full plaid, I kind of look like this guy:
That guy danced like an idiot and look how well it turned out for him! He made a ton of friends and started a movement and was even the subject of a TED Talk. Just think: cut loose and you could become famous on the Internet! Nobody’s expecting you to be Channing Tatum. (You were expecting that to be a stripper video, weren’t you? Admit it.) Just start with being the flailing guy on the hill, and go from there.
Maybe we should all learn to dance together. There are resources out there for people like us, my fellow unhipnicks. We can learn. I believe this is a reliable educational source, and once we’ve mastered those moves we can go on to the advanced seminar. When you’re done with that, you can study this video of Tim dancing with a tambourine. (It’s not homework, it’s just awesome.) I believe in my heart that if we all work on unwinding our spines, extracting our broomsticks, and letting the devil into our pelvises (that’s totally going to be the name of a new dance I’m going to invent), we’ll all have a much better time.