The last time Tony went to the Big Day Out two years ago, he was constantly approached by people wanting to buy drugs.
<p>A 40-plus friend out at Melbourne’s Fitzroy live venue, <em>Yia Yia’s</em> recently was asked if he’d come to see his daughter play in the band. What underlies all these assumptions is that no one over 40 goes out dancing, or to live music gigs in pubs and bars.</p>
There’s nothing particular about Tony to suggest he might sell drugs – he doesn’t – apart from the fact that he’s 41 years old. All the 20-somethings most likely figured that anyone that age at such an event could only be the drugs supplier.
After all, what else would he be doing there?
In early December, I had a similar experience at the Stereosonic event at the Melbourne Showgrounds.
A friend and I were the only people over 25-years-old.
Towards the end of our time there, we went to see a band called Hell whose music compelled us to dance.
When they finished their set, the lead singer thanked everyone for coming and expressed particular appreciation ‘to the parents who came and danced’ and pointed straight at us.
My friend and I laughed. We are both parents, after all, but the assumption was we were only there because we were chaperoning our kids. Not because we wanted to listen to music and dance.
A 40-plus friend out at Melbourne’s Fitzroy live venue, Yia Yia’s recently was asked if he’d come to see his daughter play in the band.
What underlies all these assumptions is that no one over 40 goes out dancing, or to live music gigs in pubs and bars.
If you happen to be there, there must be some other reason. You’re either selling ecstasy or you’re somebody’s mum, but you can hardly blame people in their 20s for thinking this.
A number of my friends say that every time they go out dancing, the place is full of 20-year-olds. Going out dancing in Melbourne at our age, we are always an exception.
Why? Is there a law somewhere in this culture that decrees that once you reach 35, the dancing part of your life is over?
I know we get older, have children, mortgages, elderly parents, divorces and one late night takes it out of us like never before. But still.
Dancing is about abandon. About letting go and having a good time.
It’s one of the few instances in our Western cerebral culture where we can express ourselves through our bodies and movement. It’s no wonder that some strict branches of Protestantism don’t allow it.
Writer Christos Tsiolkas said one of the things he enjoys about gay culture is the celebratory aspect of which dancing is a large part.
“Gay men have an extended adolescence,” he jokes. “We’re always 19.”
But why, in our culture, is it confined to adolescence?
“It may be a broad generalisation,” Tsiolkas says, “but dancing isn’t something that happens in Anglo Australian homes.
So once you’ve done the getting drunk, going out dancing and getting laid thing of your youth and you settle down with a partner and children, you stop dancing.”
What a shame.
In Greece last year, I went to a few paniyiria and watched with delight as people of all ages danced into the early hours of the morning.
Here in Melbourne at the Pontian club in Brunswick a few weeks ago, I watched people in their sixties and seventies dance all night.
As in many other things, maybe we should take a leaf out of our elders’ book.
Make the effort to go out and listen to a band.
Give over to that part of us which is about abandon and pleasure. If nothing else, the endorphins that come as a result are good for our health. And, some say, our sex life.
Jeana Vithoulkas is a regular contributor to NKEE and a published author.