If you are reading this right now, you are probably a fan of dance. Nod if this is correct.
Raise your right arm if you have been to a live dance performance before. Raise it as high as you can.
Hooray, aren’t we lucky? You may put your arm down.
Now roll your left ankle around in a counterclockwise circle if you’ve ever had a conversation with someone that went like this….
Person that is you, “I’m a dancer/ teacher/ choreographer/ fan of dance”
Person that is NOT you, “I’ve never been to a ballet. Maybe I should try and expose myself to some culture”
Yes? Me too! OK, besides that fact that no one uses ‘expose’ in colloquial speech.
Oh you do?…..me too.Congrats fellow weirdo.
I feel like I have this conversation a lot. In true ‘I will make everyone love dance!’ fashion, the thought always crosses my mind to invite this poor uncultured invalid to a show with me.
And no, I don’t honestly think that anyone who has made it to 30 without seeing a ballet is uncultured. They are probably just well-versed in a different culture. Like living-in-a-cave culture or something.
If you are like me, you probably love dance and want to share that love with others in the hope that they will find some joy and delight in it as well. However, there are some people who you should not invite.
Here is a list of 7 people you should not invite to the ballet with you and some quick easy tests to see if they deserve that extra press ticket.
- The Un-Punctual
I get it. Traffic. Lost my keys. Meeting ran late. It’s raining. My iwatch died and I didn’t know what time it was and I didn’t have a charger and I couldn’t find an outlet anyways. I was hit in the face with a giant bag of New York garbage by an aggressive streetcleaner which put me in a brief coma and when I woke up, I forgot my name and where I lived until I remembered that I was late for the ballet.
Whatever the excuse, there are some things where it is perfectly ok to be a few minutes late. A live performance is not one of them. Especially if you have set a half-hour-before-curtain meeting point with this person, a late date will be especially infuriating as you could have used that extra half-hour to watch another half-hour of Youtube. Plus it will be embarrassing as they stumble over all of the on-time people’s knees just as the curtain comes up on the opening.
The test- Have a starter hang-out somewhere more casual like a coffee shop to see if your definitions of ‘on-time’ mean the same thing.
2. People Uncomfortable around the expressive, moving male body
No one seems to mind very much, at least here in the US, when the female ballerinas wear something simple and body-baring like a leotard on stage. But tights can make the ‘uncultured’ male who has never seen a dude in anything sleeker than a pair of basketball shorts pretty uncomfortable. Especially because top-notch male ballet dancers have impeccable, trim physiques and it’s going to make a lot of men insecure that their own bodies aren’t in as good shape and if you go to the ballet a lot, you are used to being around men who look like this and will be disappointed or critical of them. For reasons unclear to me, a lot of men don’t enjoy watching the male form move about to music.
These are also the guys who will then make comments like, ‘I don’t like seeing men move like that‘, which is about as honest and self-reflective as you’ll get, or ‘all of those men seem really tiny. Like short’. This is especially true if unexposed dufus dude is tall and maybe thinks he can one-up the bodies of male ballet dancers by describing them in a traditionally derogatory term for men. Don’t be afraid to correct this with a sentence like, ‘I can see why you’d assume that, since they are so lean and can move so quickly and jump so high, but no, Joseph Gordon, is not short. He’s over 6 feet tall. And super super hot.’
This is just a for instance obviously. You would not want to say that last bit out loud even if it is accurate. The ‘those men are all short’ line is also not taken directly from the worst date ever.
The Test: Ask this person what they watch on TV. If they say sports, ask which. If they say wrestling, great! They’re already comfortable with men in spandex being theatrical. If they say football, save the ballet for a later date. If they say golf, run.
- Want to know more about male ballet dancers? 7 Male Celebrities who wanted to be Ballerinas
- Are you too sexy for your tutu, too sexy for your tutu? Sexualizing Women in Ballet
Time and place for everything, right? Maybe a subtle booty squeeze at the ballet could be cheeky and fun if this person has demonstrated that they can also be respectful at other points and can do it in a way that won’t have you worrying that your boss might see this Neanderthal trying to feel you up in the lobby.
Test: Dress however you want to dress. Could be yoga pants, could be a cocktail dress, could be a mumu. If someone puts their hands uninvited on you at any point, it’s a reflection of their lack of manners. The minute it happens, the test is over and they failed. Apparently, swatting their hand away and giving them a withering look before returning to an attempt at normal conversation will not prohibit this slow-learner from trying again. Double fail.
4. Drug Addicts
Again, time and place. There will still be dance performances in Colorado where mushrooms and pot are both now legal. However, don’t invite some law-abiding nincompoop who’s consumption of their chosen substances greatly affects their behavior, breath, or general smell. A jittery cocaine-mess and a Shostakovich pas de deux do not mix well together. And you don’t want to be stuck next to a reefer-infuser wafting their fumes at you in a crowded theater, no matter how many times they offer you the extra dime-bag in their suit pocket.
Good news is that you won’t have to talk with this person and their terrible terrible breath during intermission. They will pretend to see someone they know and run off, probably to ingest more drugs and definitely to eat a sandwich from the concession stand. You’ll know because they will mention that they feel better, having eaten said sandwich at the very last second of intermission, again tripping over the people who sat down on time. This person will also not offer you any of said sandwich. Jerk.
Test: Send a text a few hours before the show asking them to remember to smoke/snort a lot before the show and bring some extra to the theater. If they respond with either, ‘what?‘ or a laugh emoji, good to go. if they say, ‘that’s what I was just about to do!’ Disinvite.
5. Phone People
Who seriously can’t go two hours without checking facebook/twitter/intagram? Or at least can time their technology-fix with the multiple intermissions. Don’t invite someone who is going to whip out the glowing screen just as the curtain is rising.
Not to fear, the grouchy elderly people seated around you who have probably not taken well to being stepped over twice by this walking weed dispensary will snap to the defense and tell mongoloid man to ‘turn that off!‘ They will be extremely bothered by this disturbance despite the fact that they themselves have been LOULDY sucking on a Werther’s for the past two hours. Their layin- down-the -aw will make you less annoyed with their candy smacking. Empathy and compassion for all.
Test: go to his Instagram page and see how often he posts. More than twice a week? Be careful. More than one shirtless picture twice a week with hashtags like #biceps #men #pleasevalidateme, stash that extra ticket away. Don’t have an Instagram? No problem. Ask your best friend to look him up and count how many obnoxious shirtless pics he has. IGNORE temporarily-not-best-fried when she judgingly asks why you’re talking to this guy. Restore best friend to coveted position as best friend if she sends snapshots that you, the last person without Instagram, can’t see.
This is the natural order of thing. It is, I swear.
6. Weird clappers
Part of theater etiquette is applause. It may be done lightly, with just the fingertips, or loudly, with full palm-on-palm contact. It may be accompanied by shouts of ‘Bravo!’ It may even be done with the elbows sticking straight out, the hands facing opposite directions, flatly smashing into each other like uncooked hamburger meat patties.
The only unacceptable accoutrement to clapping is to draw attention to it by saying something like…..
Person that is not you: This is how I clap!
Person that is you:…..ok
Person that is not you: Know what it means?
Person that is you: ‘No. What does it mean?’
Person that is not you: ‘Sex’.
This is not acceptable clapping.
Test: Do any little dance move and say, ‘where’s my applause?‘ If they commence with the above conversation, no ticket for them.
7. Someone who does not actually have any interest in seeing dance
I have come to accept that not everyone is going to be swayed and moved by dance. I don’t even like a third of what I see. But while even the unlikeable stuff can still be a fun experience and provoke some thought and or conversation for some, for others, they aren’t really there to see if they like dance or not.
Accept that they faked an interest to spend time with you and take that as a compliment, but don’t dish out the free tickets or invitations to attend with you. Otherwise you’ll both have a miserable time.
Test: Try to hint that you ‘have an early morning‘ right after the show ends and head home. If they follow you on the train despite the fact that they live in the opposite direction, try very hard to discourage them. If that fails and then they try to kiss you with their awful weed-sandwich mouth on the wrong-platform-for-them-to-go-home-in-the-first-place, completely turn away from them. If they take this as a ‘Oh, you’re not into PDA?’ reaction and then still walk you to your door and then try again to grab you, say no thank you and run as quickly as possible into your building. Try to remain classy in parting texts. Wait a few hours and see if you get a text like this:
To review: Don’t share your time at the theater or your free tickets with people who don’t actually want to be there, will not respect the venue, the art form, or you, and especially anyone who thinks that because they took the time to attend a show (even if their attendance can be mildly called ‘piss-poor) that you owe them a thing.
- Here is some good Audience Etiquette to Follow: How to Attend a Show
- If you are nervous about going to the ballet, you might want to Russian-ify Yourself first
If you did, may their first ballet be their last, for the good of us all. XO from the Ice Queen 😉