Deep Play

“And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws….”

“Till max said BE STILL and tamed them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all and made him king of all wild things”

Is this weekend really just about raging? If not, what other meaning could our attendance at shows have? Taken at surface value, it would be easy to accept that dance music culture exists as a diversion of frivolous fun. Many have made this argument in dance music literature. Yet, social scientists are very skeptical of anyone who says that any act which requires such a heavy investment of time, money, and energy is inconsequential to the larger ways they live their lives or make communities.

True to this point, Clifford Gertz coined the concept deep play to make sense of such events and actions that may seem to be unimportant at first glance, but in fact are essential to people and communities sense of identity and connectedness. One look to the religious devotion of fans associated with OSU athletics offers a perfect alternative case to see how this works in other places. I argue that when we go to shows together it is true that we are all there to have fun, but there is something much deeper at stake in our play. Discussing the deeper significance of Sendak’s “Where the Wild things Are” offers a way to understand what happens on these magical nights When we all come together.

Reading the above passage from Sendak’s famous Illustrated story, “Where the Wild Things Are” it is evident that lead character Max is confronted with terrifying demons on his journey (Interview). How often in our lives are we brow beaten by larger forces, people, or ideas that act as demons continually haunting our every step. Wild eyed and hungry, these demons push and prod us to stay in the box of what is socially acceptable.  They ROAR, terrorize, and trample on our dreams and hopes and tell us to be reasonable, responsible, and above all normal. Never receding into the distance, we carry these demons with us at all times.

You are probably asking yourself: what demons? Well, just think for a moment how difficult it is to take the less beaten path with your career, lifestyle, eating habits, fashion, who you love, etc etc.  For most of you, I do not need to explain much farther, because those very demons are the ones telling you to stay in line and not to deviate. They could be people. They could be institutions. They could be you.

How difficult it must have been for Max to stare those Demons in the eye without blinking and tell them they had no place in his life.  Are we able to stare at these demons in the face and become master of them? Maybe not alone, but when we get together for these shows we are able to look all those demons squarely in the eye without hesitation. For a few short hours, we have the courage as a community to do and be better than we ever knew was possible. This is the deeper significance I see in our shows. Sure, we say its about scene building and reppin’ our city. No doubt, its about artistic expression of all sorts as well. Underlying it all, these shows are a sign that we are still living and breathing human beings and we want to feel something. Its a shining beacon relying a simple message over and over to the rest of society: We refuse to be calmer, happier, more efficient, productive, and to settle for the cage of mediocrity. It is at this point that, like Max, we feel like the kings and queens of the world.  There is no doubt that others look on at us as Kings and Queens as they are envious of our ability to soak the true marrow out of life through our dancing, playing, and living free from the confines of the norm.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain (via Ed Luna)

Luckily, you have three amazing opportunities to explore, dream, and discover with everyone else in your community. No doubt, it is vital to go to Where the Wild Things Rage at the Bluestone on Friday Night for three stages of all local talent, but also make sure to check out DOAP tomorrow night at Rumba Cafe to revel in all the glories the dark night can bring. Then end your weekend by checking out Juicy: Time to Get ill at Circus where scene mainstays Kevy Kev and Kingpin will curate a night of their favorites in dance music. Event Details for each show are available by clicking the link on the show name.

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