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I wondered as I desperately moved back and forth just a little bit in the narrow space between the tall solid beer-drinking men and the wall of grim head-nodders standing immovable at the cool/safe distance from the stage*, quite close in this case (The Evenings, playing the Wheatsheaf) but damnit not one of them is moving.

Not even their heads.

But I want to dance, and that's a problem. Because it just isn't cool to dance. People at gigs are still the cool kids at the school disco, standing around with their collars turned up, nipping off in the toilets to whine and pretend to take drugs. Even band members will take the piss. Point in case: we went to see add n to x, surely a dance band, and liriseli (whose dancing admittedly is admired, revered and slightly feared) and someone (Guitarist? Theraminster?) leaned over the bar and congratulated him for having enough fun for the rest of the room. That's the people who dance; you point at them, they're freaks, especially the women. Especially the older women, I should say. From time to time, I look at them and cringingly hate myself. That's me, I think, the idiot in the corner.

But I still dance, like an idiot, when I can squeeze myself out a space bewteen the ones thinking "go home grandma" and the ones hoping like hell I won't make a pass at them because they're not sure they're sober enough to say no. And the reason why is almost more embarassing than my dancing.

You see, back a few years ago I was talked into going to a gig by a one-hit dumb kid called Jason Downs who was briefly popular on MTV for being good-looking and singing on Native American themes. We got there to discover some sort of post-ironic Village People in mufti, with a tiny bouncing rapper called Milk D (oooh, scary), a boldly multicultural array of talented session musicians and bizarre barbie coffee-and-blonde backing singers, who danced and grinned in perfect, unnerving unison. Just before the third sond, one of them leaned into her mike. "You should dance," she said, "It sounds better if you dance."

We did. It did. And when after the gig we decided to go home right away and collided with the band on the pavement (can often happen at the Zodiac) I was able to kiss Mr Down's cheap knock-off Johnny Depp cheekbone and say, "You were bloody brilliant" and absolutely mean it (while Alex shared a manly hug and muttered congratulations with Milk D) even though I wasn't about to buy his CD, wasn't expecting to see him again, and wasn't going to put a picture of him on my wall -- despite the cheekbones.

So, there you have it. I dance at gigs because I was told to, by one of Jason Down's backing singers.

No wonder I feel embarassed.

I get back from finally having broken through the great wall of indie band members to dance to some bonkers la-la-la-la-la-la sample being pulverised by a leaning tower of guitar and the poundiest drummer in Oxford, with Alex and three performance artists they've known since school, and when I get back Ben the Pop Star buttonholes me. "Big Evenings fan, are you?" he asks and I frown a bit maybe and confess I've been to one of their gigs before. They aren't half bad. And they play dance music (though nobody dances).

Ben wants to know why he's suddenly seeing me at so many gigs. It reminds me of the conversations I have with gay people from time to time, except running the other way. I suppose we probably are about the only people in the room who aren't in a band, going out with someone in a band or scene technicians of one sort or another. But it's a bit difficult to figure out how to phrase this.

"Hi, we're the audience. We come here because it's fun."

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* Calculated as: start with the stage-diving avoidance distance (five-ten feet depending on width and height of the venue), take one away for every band-member's girlfriend (add one for every boyfriend, bearing in mind that some girls count as boyfriends and vice versa), adjust for crowd density, lateness and price of drinks and add eight feet if you're downstairs in the Zodiac.