Yep, I was wrong.
Since my original post I’ve received responses back from inquiries I sent to both fans who’s videos I featured on the original post. And in the wake of their comments, I’ve had to rethink my initial thoughts about the swarm started by the Dancing Guy.
Included below is the first response from the fan who captured the actual swarm, followed by the second response from the fan who captured the Dancing Guy moments before the swarm ( In case you haven’t seen them yet, I’ve also included the original videos below each respective response.)
Both responses , as I hoped, provided great insight and perspective on the situation. The responses also confirmed the power of positive influence that one person can have over a large group of people.
I especially enjoyed Mason’s explanation of what the festival environment was like as fans responded to, and interacted with, ”The Dancing Guy” (Collin Wynter of Vermont) throughout the festival. The responses came to me via email and a comment made on the original post. Note: Aside from minor formating edits, I did not made any edits to their original messages or comments.
Official Swarm Video Response:
Thanx for taking the time to watch my video! I can assure you however that there was nothing manufactured about this occurrence it was simply a spontaneous sequence of events that i happened to catch on film. The guy who started the dance party is named Collin Wynter out of Calgary Alberta Canada, Im from Vancouver…He wound up contacting me after the video gained such popularity. Collin was seen by everyone the whole long weekend, dancing everywhere, i dont think there was anyone who attended the festival that didnt see him at some point so its of no surprise that he was the leader behind the events that unfolded…everyone was in good spirits…beautiful sunshine and the most amazing venue you could hope for…the atmosphere was no less than perfect and the people began to swarm…I would have been one of the first in there had i not been filming but am glad i captured what i did…There is hope in humanity for a little spontaneous fun after all! No script, no acting, just a bunch of people living in the moment and forgeting about cares, worries, and judgments.
Before the Swarm Video Response:
Festivals are a much different atmosphere than other concerts. You have to understand the type of people who attend festivals; 3 day drinking binges, traveled thousands of miles to attend a concert, willing to sleep, shower, and shit publicly for 3 days, etc.
The event itself is unique: one band stripped down to their speedos, threw their equipment to the audience, and proceeded to yell intelligibly at the microphone as the audience held up the equipment and the artists. A couple was spotted having sex on the top of the hill opposite the stage (also on YouTube) and was also put on the “Jumbo-Tron” while performing (not on YouTube). Mt. St. Helen’s Vietnam Band’s lead singer yelled at the audience “Fuck You!” and “You’re all faggots!” while going on emotional tirades between songs (and even before the equipment was tuned). Tim & Eric came on stage wearing nothing but cock-socks (as far as I could tell – I could barely see them from where I was). The entire festival was one crazy experience after another.
I don’t think the event was staged at all. I’d seen the guy earlier throughout the festival and he was doing pretty much the same kind of dance “routine”. But what the videos don’t portray is that a lot of people had been approaching him everyday of the festival. I think a lot of people were doing it mockingly (”Look, I’m playing with the retard!”), but some were genuinely those type of people to join in and dance. I think what you see is the culmination of those latter type of people.
Two main reasons that I don’t think the event was staged:
1. The event happened towards the very end of the song, if staging the event – I would have done it earlier.
2. He was not comfortable with all those people. You can’t see it on these videos but the Dancing Guy immediately escaped from the audience (back to where I was) and was yelling “[Do whatever you want! Just go and do whatever you want!]”
My vote is that it was a genuine moment, but one that is unique to the multi-day festival (and can be witnessed on a smaller scale at a one-day festival) atmosphere. I will attend more multi-day festivals and I would suggest others to do so as well.
It was great to have Mason (who posted the before the Swarm video) provide additional background info on other outrageous fan behavior going on at Sasquatch Festival. But it was very interesting to learn that Collin escaped the very mob he created and yelled for the mob to “do what it wants.” Also learning that other fans where mocking Collin while others where genuinely inspired by him really gave me insight into how we respond to someone like Collin who didn’t let his surroundings stop him from outwardly expressing how much he was enjoying the festival.
But, as Mason pointed out, I wonder about those who mock someone who’s genuiely expressing themself in the moment like Collin was? Are those people jealous of people like Collin? More importantly, what can we learn from Collin when it comes to expressing ourselves with thousands of other fans at a concert? And what does this situation tells us about how our behavior, and self-expression, at concert impacts other fans?
What Do You Think?
Do you think it’s beneficial for us to express ourselves like Collin did? Is it something you wish you saw more of at concerts? Or is it an annoying distraction to your enjoyment when it goes beyond its limits? What are the limits, or boundaries?
I’ll leave you with this final thought (and please understand that I don’t ask this as judgement but purely to explore a regular part of fan behavior at concerts).
It’s my job to doubt and question human behavior.
I guess by doubting whether or not this event was staged also makes me a a bit of disbeliever in the likelihood of pure emotional response of fans at concerts. But I guess that’s hte journalist in me, too.
But I also know the reality of the music festival environment, especially camping festivals. And I know that drugs and alcohol often go hand in hand more times than not. And I know fans and artists can both rely on drugs and alcohol to help relax and loosen them up so they can perform and enjoy the show better. But what does it say about us if we need drugs and alcohol in order to express ourselves? Is this a good thing? Or is it a part of our human behavior that’s disappointing and needs improvement?
Even though I’ve never really enjoyed alcohol, and I’ve never used drugs before, I also know that we all have our own personal ways of making ourselves feel comfortable in a public setting with strangers or friends. Some of us light a cigarette, some of us crack a silly joke and some of us throw down a few beers to calm the anxieties and take off the edge.
So whenever I see a fan with displaying a low level of inhibition at a concert–whether they’re dancing about or being overly touchy with others around them– I often wonder how much they’re relying on drugs and alcohol to get them to that low level of inhibition. Then I usually ask myself ‘is what I’m seeing pure expression?
What I’m wondering about in all of this is that I’d like to experience what the concert environment would be like if there was no drugs or alcohol available. How would fans behave? Would we see more or less Dancing Guys like Collin? Would this increase or decrease levels of enjoyment of the performance?
How would you respond if you didn’t drink alcohol at the next concert you went to? Would you be able to connect emotionally with the performance? Can we get to that level of lowered inhibitions without drugs or alcohol?
Stay tuned as I explore on the next post if we’re “under the influence of the individual.”