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Friday, May 27, 2011

Are tulle shoulder pads and face paint necessary?

Monday night I was talked into attending a live show hosted by a radio station. The guy who convinced me said the artist "radiated positive energy" and there was no way I could leave the venue "without being inspired." Inspired to do what exactly? Not sure. But the show was nearby, sounded promising, and I had nothing better planned.

I was in a fine mood earlier: I left my apartment at noon and went to the village to bar hop and drink vodka. It was now 8 p.m., and I found myself at this show, grumpy, drinking cheap white wine (it was all they offered) and out twenty bucks. The performer was wearing mini rainbow-colored tutus on her shoulders and sounded like Bjork singing African tribal music. The band wore one-piece, spandex gymnastic outfits. Not my scene.

Or was it? It was definitely not a yuppie Hoboken crowd but it felt like the audience (and performers) were trying too hard to be non-commercial, acting like arty know-it-all hipsters. But shouldn't I feel better here than yuppieville? I morphed into a snob who did not believe in this performace specticle. I put on my big sunglasses, sipped wine, and scribbled notes on the show's flier, thinking: "I can be just as pretentious as you all." Instead of bobbing my head and embracing the chants, my face remained serious and I analyzed each note. It was as if I needed to take on a role -- create a character and reason why I was there -- if I did not fit in I would make it because I was someone else. I did not receive the "positive energy" and all I was inspired to do was drink and write more.

In Hoboken, I yearn for an art culture, people who like poetry and indie music but I am surrounded by the superficial youth who brag about how great they are at beruit and chugging and prefer rap or techno. Here, where I thought I'd belong, I was still on the outskirts. I was in my own bubble of observation, staring at the audience, wondering if they were authentically happy.

But why is it so important for me to feel included in a crowd? Furthermore, why do I constantly lie on the outside looking in?

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