I recently posed this question on music blog www.thoughtsofjustafan.com in response to some varied experiences from Alfie Boe's UK tour. Alfie is well known for urging audiences to stand up and dance at concerts but what is the right thing to do if you want to dance and no one else does? If you are on the front row and dancing, how does that affect others behind you? Alternatively, if you have paid a lot of money to sit on the front row, how do you feel if a lot of people come and stand in front of you for half the concert? I didn't have all the answers to these conundrums first time around and perhaps I still don't but reader feedback made me think that there are some answers so here we go.
In his recent UK tour, Alfie several times, at a certain point in the show, asked us all to dance. We were left in no doubt that he wanted us to dance as he urged us to "get up, on your feet, that means stand up"! Now I didn't need much encouragement to get up and dance but in some cases it can be a bit awkward if you stand up and look around and....you are the only one standing! Particularly if you are near the front - it takes a bit of nerve to keep on standing when all around are sitting and looking a bit disapproving. I'll admit, at some shows I was a bit like a yo-yo!
Of the shows I attended on this most recent tour, the best dancing crowd was at the O2 in London; being halfway back on the arena floor I was well placed to see that a lot of the audience was up and dancing for most of the show after Alfie had asked us to dance. However, the next night, and last night of the tour, Cardiff, was a totally different kettle of fish. Although the audience responded well when Alfie first asked us to dance it was short lived as most sat down immediately after that song (Volare, I think) and the majority didn't get up again. They made up for this by being the best singing crowd - Wales really is a nation of fabulous singers.
In a recent survey, most respondents said that if Alfie asks, you should definitely dance if you are able. Having said that, a fair amount of people did raise the point about the possibly blocked view of those behind you - children, older people and disabled fans were all cited as reasons to be careful. About a quarter of concert goers who took part in the survey said that they had been impeded in their view at a concert when people had stood up to dance. They were then faced with the dilemma of whether or not to complain. They don't want to spoil the enjoyment of others but they do want to be able to see Alfie too. One comment compared the concert experiences of Alfie with those of Michael Ball; Michael usually leaves the songs that can be danced to until the end of his set. Those who can and want to dance are then able to for just a couple of songs at the end. Perhaps it is just a question of reordering the set list? Several comments were also made about venues not always allowing fans to dance at the front or in the aisles. Another suggestion was to install mosh pits although I don't the person suggesting this was entirely serious!
I love to dance at a concert so if appropriate I will do so although I'd like to think I wasn't spoiling it for anyone else at the same time. Of those fans who said that given the opportunity they will always get up and dance, the reason given was that Alfie so clearly appreciates and loves seeing his fans dancing and having a good time. I have to agree with this - in London, he was thrilled to see a group of fans standing and dancing through the Quadrophenia songs in the encore. Additionally, where possible, he gets fans on stage to dance with him (this happened in Bournemouth) and at the Huawei Winter Concert at the Royal Festival Hall in December 2013 he pulled a girl out of the stalls to dance on stage with him as she was almost the only one dancing. The main set finished with almost half the audience on stage (thanks Linda Wellington for sharing):
When it comes down to it, dancing at a concert depends on something that we all depend on in everyday life: common courtesy and awareness of others. Everyone who goes to a concert is there to enjoy themselves and like it or not, part of that enjoyment may well depend on whether or not they can see the artist! Enjoy yourself and if this means that you might have to stay sitting for longer than you would like, so be it!
This article originally appeared on www.thoughtsofjustafan.com.