GUEST POST: Why have we stopped dancing?

In her latest guest post for the Brixton Blog, Catherine Martindale of Brixton band Poeticat wonders why gig-goers aren’t dancing like they used to.

Catherine Martindale performing with Poeticat at the Windmill
Catherine Martindale performing with Poeticat at the Windmill

A few weeks ago, the boys from Poeticat and I went to the single launch of a band called Miraculous Mule. We played with them at The Underbelly in Hoxton last year then subsequently booked them for our Christmas edition of Poeticat Presents at The Hackney Attic. We booked them because they play some good blues and gospel, and predominantly tight, groovy rock and roll. Poeticat is music and poetry so we usually book a louder act to play after us for when people have had a few shandies and want to move their feet, bang their heads or wave their booties.

The single launch was at Paper Dress Vintage in Old Street. It was rammed. I entered just as they were getting onto the stage and grabbed a beer. They started playing and we started dancing. To my astonishment, no-one else moved at all. There were probably 80 people there and not one person was even nodding their heads. Now this band is good. They are a brilliant rock and roll band. They chug and they chant and they bang the drums and pluck the bass and layer the sing-along vocals. They make music to dance to.

At our last residency gig at The Windmill we managed to get the audience to infiltrate the impenetrable semi-circle, which is sometimes created between the front of the stage and the audience, by handing out badges from the stage. The gig went really well. So I thought: ‘I’m going to infiltrate that semi-circle this time’. People looked at me for a while, and then got used to it. I thought I’d perhaps inspire other people to join me, but no-one did. I spent the gig as the only one dancing.

Afterwards some girls said ‘we really appreciated your dancing’. In retrospective I wish I had asked them why they didn’t dance. My dancing isn’t great so it wasn’t the dance moves but the simple fact that I did dance.

My romantic image of the 60’s is that people went off to rock and roll. They didn’t care how they looked. Are we too image conscious now? Is our generation taking the wrong drugs? Have the English been too humiliated by their experience in primary school through the Tory years that they have become sheep?

Friends of mine said that it might be because Paper Dress has a window to the street, making people self-conscious. Others think perhaps it’s because the beer is too pricey, so people weren’t drunk enough. Some of them recalled being the only ones dancing at Stevie Wonder, surrounded by men in suits ticking off their ‘I’ve seen Stevie Wonder’ box.

People dance to DJ’s in London. What’s happened to people going off to live bands? If you know a band people go off to let me know and I’ll go see them or if you have any thoughts tweet me @poeticat and we can discuss this more.

Poeticat’s next Windmill Residency gig is on August 24th. You can find out more information on their website or on the Facebook event.



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