One of my best friends left the country a couple of days ago, so we had a good-bye party in her honor. About 20 people gathered up in one of our local pubs. It’s a fairly roomy place and by that I mean it has about 3 large rooms that communicate with each other making it almost look like it’s one big space. We had cocktails, fun talk, met some really old friends whom I don’t get to see as often as I had in the past, did some catching up.
Later in the evening, as the beverages started piling up, the music went from “decent volume” to a lot louder, most of the people got up and started dancing. Which was perfectly fine and to be expected. What didn’t make perfect sense in the beginning was that all these people, from all these tables, got extremely crowded in the one room with the bar. Technically it was as if you had a large space and all people insisting on occupying only one third of it, in spite of the squashing and tripping one over another, then pulling up from the floor and acting as if nothing had ever happened. It was only awhile later that others started dancing in the other two rooms, giving each other space to breathe and to move freely.
Both groups were obviously having fun, but what determined the different “crowd” behaviors and what can that tell us about the people involved? Way into the past, back when things seemed simpler, no waxing was necessary and basic survival was everything, humans lived in caves. Back then, crowding one into the other was a very simplified mean of survival for the group, because it provided heat, security and a sense of belonging (which are found on the very base of Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs; you’ll find it on the “Needs” article written in January). Even in an experimental environment, lab rodents will most likely stay close to each other if put together in a roomy confined space.
But in this day and age, we don’t need to rely on our basic survival instinct (if we still have it) when we’re fine and secure in our own homes with central heating, microwaves, computers, internet, supermarkets in every neighborhood. No fear of invaders, no need to hunt down your lunch so as not to starve. All humans have to do is be the obedient little sheep of society in exchange for survival. Humanity has gone soft and so have its instincts. Still, can it be that once the music goes loud in a crowded place, basic impulses rise and a dysfunctional survival instinct shoves the majority of dancing people into a stuffy corner? Could be… but it’s not what I believe happens.
In my view of this particular aspect, there are three types of people:
1. 1. Those who dance because they love dancing, because that is who they are and it makes them feel great: “Honest Dancers”. You’ll probably see this category dance with the same pleasure home alone or in a club, be it crowded by others or not.
2. 2. The “Exhibitionists” are those who dance because they love to be seen by others, they love being watched, they get a sense of pleasure from knowing that attention may be showering them from every angle. You don’t see these people dance alone (unless in their minds they’re living a fantasy of being surrounded by others), these guys and girls will always be eager to go to a club to dance (more emphasis on the public place than on the dancing itself).
3. 3. Those who deep down inside would be happy not to dance at all, but they do it because they want to be labeled in a certain way by others. They’re aware that they are being seen dancing, yet they don’t get the pleasure and thrill that the second category does. They will shake those hips and move that body any and every way the music dictates so that they will be labeled as a party animal or as a fun, open person or so that they won’t be labeled as shut-ins, mood killers or just plain boring. These people are ”Camelions”, you won’t spot them unless you already know they have self-image/esteem issues, fact which they always try to mask somehow.
The crowded room with the bar was probably filled with all three categories, mostly the “Exhibitionists”, who love to be seen by as many as possible, while the other not-so-crowded areas hosted the remaining “Honest Dancers” and “Camelions” Why? Because Honest Dancers can be found anywhere and Camelions may have a target audience they want to give a certain impression to, and that may consist of one or two people to tens or more.
Dancing was used here as an example for certain types of behavior, but one can see these patterns concerning other aspects as well. You just have to look around yourself and you will find more examples each and every day. It will make you wonder: how much are the things we do indeed things we do for ourselves because they define us and how much are they done for us to be knowingly seen by others while doing them, so as to be labeled in a desired way?