Hello, how are you?
(Don’t answer that out loud – I can’t hear you)
Well, it’s been a while. Between Christmas infiltrating my life with its tinselly tendrils, and my place of employ working me harder than a ex-Radio 1 DJ’s defence lawyer, I have been neglecting my blog of late. But you know, during this brief sojourn away from t’internet, it struck me that it may very well be the case that I have mellowed. See, there used to be things that wound me up so frequently and incessantly that hitting my blog and venting about it was more a necessity than a hobby. During the admittedly short time I was abstaining from this sort of catharsis, I could have sworn a feeling of belligerent acceptance was slowly washing over me – that yes, sure, there were still things in life that bothered me, and the majority of people were still insufferable twats, but that it might not be that big a deal. That I should just ignore it. Tolerate it in my own, jaw-clenching way. Tut at most. Certainly it wasn’t worth writing about, anyway.
Then I sat in an audience full of fuckwits who insisted on clapping along to every single piece of music performed for them, their fat stupid faces erupting with glee as they tried to keep time, and… well, here I am again.
Clapping should have two main functions in life: you do it quickly to show your appreciation for someone, or you do it slowly to get someone off the stage. Doing it rhythmically is something that should really be reserved for entertaining a small child.
I have paid good money to sit in this auditorium tonight and listen to something that simply cannot be replicated by even the most sophisticated sound system: live music. Whether it’s classical, acoustic, electronic, whatever… hearing it live, in person… the sound waves carrying from the instruments to your ears… it’s magical. Unless 5,000 other people are smacking their palms together because they’ve collectively identified the time signature AND WANT EVERYONE ELSE TO KNOW IT!!
Like a sexually transmitted disease on campus, it starts with just a few but spreads alarmingly quickly. Maybe it’s the fear of looking like a killjoy, or perhaps the followers irrationally want to prove that they possess this skill too? Buggered if I know, but the one thing I do know is that once someone starts, and starts confidently – that “I’m not stopping clapping even if no one else joins in, so you better join in or I’m going to look like a plonker and you’re going to feel awkward” kind of confidence – most people are helpless to resist.
WHY??! You’re ruining the one thing we’re all gathered here to enjoy! Is it a communal thing? Do you want to share the joy of this performance with the others present? Does the act of thwacking your hands together simultaneously with hundreds of other people make you feel less isolated? Less alone? For those brief minutes when you’re drowning out the professionally-played music with the aid of a bunch of strangers, do you feel at one with society? Does the inevitability of your own death after a life of labour and loss momentarily vanish from your mind? Or are you just bewilderingly beguiled by the ability of your hands to make a loud noise at equally proportioned time intervals? Judging by the joyous yet vacant look in your eyes, I’m plumping for the latter.
These people, when they’re sitting at home and fancy listening to some tunes, be it on the radio or from their own personal collection… Do you think they sit in their armchair and clap along? Of course they don’t. BUT THAT’S EXACTLY THE RIGHT PLACE TO DO IT! Where their demonstration of bimanous dexterity doesn’t infringe upon people that, I don’t know, might just want to listen to the fucking music! But no. They save it for the one and only time that I’m going to see these musicians play live. Thank you. Thanks a lot.
Is it a coincidence that the people who are most delighted to start clapping along to a hitherto delightful piece of music are usually the ones that can’t even do it properly? I mean, it’s not that hard. Identify the beat, the rhythm, the time signature, and make sure your infantile sound effects hit at the right time. But you can’t even do that right, can you? Look at you go, clapping at entirely the wrong pace, coercing the whole audience into doing the same because the sound of your mistimed collective clapping is now drowning out the actual rhythm being played, making the whole thing even more tortuous for the audience members with taste and manners.
I honestly don’t know how the celebrities taking part in Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the Stars for my international readers) can remember their routines and hit their marks when the studio audience has decided to make their task infinitely more difficult by collectively clapping out of time to the song they’re dancing to.
So, here is my heartfelt plea: please stop it. Do something that advertises your eagerness to engage with the music but that doesn’t detract from it. Sway. Nod. Fucking air drum, I don’t care. But for the love of Grayskull, please don’t initiate the creation of an unneeded, unwanted and unmelodic percussion section.