Arlington, Virginia Guerilla Dance Mob Ruins Wedding

You know how when you grow up somewhere, you never actually see the basic stuff that every tourist setting foot in the place heads straight for?

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And what’s the deal with Governor’s Island? Who knew there’s 200 acres of derelict real estate a stone’s throw from Manhattan? Why is this land not spilling over with overpriced housing?

Spent a luxurious 3 days in New York. Sort of a pit stop. Familiar. Lots of friends to visit.

Danced in Central Park.

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It seems like no matter how many people we invite, no matter how big or small the city, the turnouts always hover around the same range; 40 to 50 people. A lot of folks who show up say they expect hundreds and are excited to find a relatively intimate group. It’s kind of a relief for me too.

I enjoyed the mob in Madrid. But what would it prove if we tried to pull that off in every city? The next video would just be a swirling conflagration of uncoordinated humanity. You need to see faces. It matters. And so whatever law of probability is giving us the same-sized crowd in every city — I will neither question nor tinker with.

We shot at Bethesda Arcade. You may recall it from the kidnapping scene in Ransom, near the end of One Fine Day (all-time top 5 romantic comedy), and in an obscure They Might Be Giants video.

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For me, the reference on the forefront of my mind was The Wiz — with a little bit of Godspell mixed in. I don’t think Bethesda was in either movie, but, see, we got a small group to run up to the second tier to dance, and while they were waiting up there, they choreographed an elaborate group routine.

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It just had that Wiz look to it.

This is, I think, a good thing.

The reason they had to wait so long up top: there was a wedding going on under the arches. Not a post-ceremony photo thing — I mean with rings and kissing and crying. We were standing not 20 feet away.

Tough call, but out of respect, we waited a few minutes. When it became clear that it wasn’t a modern "Do you? Do you? Okay, you’re married!" kind of service, we lost our patience and finally started dancing.

Then I looked over and it was done. The bride was sobbing and hugging her mom. I hope it wasn’t cause we ruined the whole thing with our flailing and gyrations.

Saturday was a day of rest. Had dinner in the Bronx with a friend. He just moved from lower Manhattan into a co-op and octupled the size of his living space.

Train to D.C.

Here was the problem with D.C.: we got turned down for every location. The monuments were off-limits because of anti-war protests.

Q: Wait a minute. When are the protests?
A: All weekend.
Q: Where? Which monuments?
A: All of them.

The D.C. permit office was apparently anticipating anti-war protests "everywhere," "at all times." Maybe they just have an extremely broad definition of what constitutes an anti-war protest.

I suggested just ending the war so the protests could be called off, but it fell on deaf ears.

Call after call to the permit office, and finally they just started hanging up the phone each time it rang.

I suggested staging the dancing event in the D.C. permit office. Again, deaf ears.

When you rule out monuments in D.C., the list of potential dancing locations gets a whole lot shorter. We had some hope of getting lovely Union Station, but after leading us on for a few days, we were denied. This was just after all the invites went out.

Crap.

Changing venues once we’ve sent out invites would cause chaos. Instead, we decided to meet at Union Station and just wing it.

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40 to 50 people. Waddaya know?

Every once in a while someone shows up and takes some really nice pictures. This was one of those days. A guy named Rob Cantor was gracious enough to pass them along.

The sign-up process.

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I led folks down to a park near the Capitol Building.

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There was a fountain. We danced. No one got handcuffed or pepper-sprayed.

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I continued our March on Washington down to the National Mall to dance in front of the Washington Monument. It struck me as sufficiently iconic, non-divisive, and visually interesting; but the light stunk for what we needed, so I might just use the first location.

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A reporter from USA Today showed up. She conducted the longest interview I think I’ve ever been through. I got nervous when she started quoting my blog. No reporter has ever done that to me before. And when I think about some of the stuff buried in these archives…not all USA Today material, ya know?

But it was obviously more than just a gimmick to her. She’d done her homework, and her questions were thoughtful and engaging. I had to pretty much abandon my "messaging grid" and come up with honest responses on the spot.

Dangerous.

My aunt and uncle were there too.

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They danced.

Rob and Lucy are serious, hard-working people. Both have been law professors at Yale. I don’t know about you, but that impresses my pants off…figuratively.

There has been talk in my family about the nature of what it is that I do. I often declare myself, for the purposes of preemption, to be a "deadbeat." Talk to my aunt and uncle about their jobs and you’ll feel like a deadbeat too.

I think the concern isn’t so much about what I’m doing now, but more where it’s leading. What am I going to be doing five years from now?

I take a cosmic view on the subject — which is to say: I don’t really worry about it. Of course, this just makes everyone nervouser.

Anyway, after coming to one of these events, Rob and Lucy have graciously spread the word that I’m something other than a deadbeat. Rob did declare that I’m clearly making some kind of political statement in opposition to the capitalist work ethic. If he’d thought about it long enough, he probably would’ve thrown a "Judeo-Christian" in there too. Judeo-Christian would’ve really knocked it out of the park.

18 Responses to Arlington, Virginia Guerilla Dance Mob Ruins Wedding

  1. Teresa

    I think you’re right not to worry about the future! Just enjoy yourself for awhile. There are plenty of years for you to be “productive.” I love having three kids, but I’m pretty tied down now. I’m glad my husband and I waited 7 years to start a family!

  2. Rob, thanks for sharing the photos, they’re fantastic…by the way, I’m the geek girl :-)

    I’ve already said it, but thanks for including is in on your fun, Matt! The Capitol Building and Washington Monument made for great backdrops for dancing.

    Group photo of Matt, me, and my friends: link to rogue11.blogspot.com

  3. Rich

    “Judeo-Christian would’ve really hit it out of the park.”

    LMAO!! Oh, God, stop!! hahahahaha

    Fun stories about your adventure. Are you a deadbeat? I hadn’t noticed. I know some deadbeats and you are nothing like them.

    You’re living the American dream in my opinion. Somehow making a living doing what you love to do. Kudos..

  4. Jessica

    You are certainly not a deadbeat. You found a way to do what you love to do, life is too short. As for where your life is leading, well I think you are right for not worrying about it, and I’m sure if you ever start to worry, you would do something about it.

  5. Everytime I watch the dance, I want to leave home to travel, right away. I love the Norwegian spot.
    Mala Mukunda
    link to traveling-stories-magazine.com

  6. Matt! Great meeting and dancing in your San Francisco Group Dance Video 2007! I also love your writing style – curt, funny, insightful. Let’s plan that 2027, 20 year reunion! I’ll be a sprite 80, the oldest female DJ on the planet. Dance Move Dance!
    Sakanta Running Wolf, Global Peace Global Healing.

  7. It was great meeting you and dancing with everyone in DC. Thanks for doing this and just giving people a reason to smile. It’s sometimes rare these days. I had a blast and put the group pic on my blog at the link above. Keep on dancin’!

  8. Tiffany

    “this just makes everyone nervouser.”
    haha. Thats great.
    I wish i could think like you… not worrie about 5 years from now. I’m worried about tomorrow…let alone next year! (college…)
    Well, in the mean time, I really enjoy reading your blogs. Can’t wait for your next video!
    Thanks for sharing all the fun with us!

  9. mka

    You were in Washington?! If we had known, we would have been there to dance! Sorry to have missed it :(

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