At The Hop

Recently I attended a couple of dance parties. Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in the festivities due to the extraordinary and dangerous amplitude of the music. The noise was so intense that several attendees were seen blithely inserting devices into their own ears to, I assume, mitigate the deafening roar of the sound. ‘Kind of oxymoronic,’ I thought, ‘coming to hear music with readily available means to muffle and distort it.’ Indeed, I should have been so prepared. Not only was my auditory canal under attack, but the decibel level was so high that my internal organs were bouncing around with abandon, as well. (I’ve yet to check if they are still situated near enough their proper place to perform appropriate bodily functions).

Of course, I am just one member of a soon to be extinct breed of civilization that has not abandoned all hope of maintaining a reasonable level of auditory facility throughout most of one’s middle and later years. This ever more prevalent trend of blasting the bejeebers out of anyone within a quarter mile radius of the bandstand is partially a result of the fact that half the pop-music-minded population can’t hear anything anymore anyway. What were considered ‘normal’ volumes just a generation ago have had to be raised logarythmically to compensate for this pandemic violation of this precious sensory faculty. With millions plugged in to various portable music devices for the last quartercentury, it is not surprising that the tiny hairs in the cochlea (a snail-shaped organ in the inner ear) become compromised and ultimately damaged. Accordingly, the music must rise in volume to the occasion in order to accomodate the increasing number of ‘dead ears’out there.

In view of this, it is disconcerting that the beat goes on with such utter recklessness and disregard for the well being of all concerned. Are these bandstand narcissists so insecure about their musicianship that they have to obliterate all consciousness and communication, other than their own....not to speak of the subtleties and details of the music itself, which are usually lost in the often painful assault and bombardment? You’d think someone would have the moxie to simply request that the band turn it down a notch or two. But that would amount to cultural heresy these days!

One wonders, if there is not some other phenomenon at work here. If conversation and communication (other than that coming from the excessive, elaborate electronic enhancement of the music) become essentially non-existent at these events, and no one steps up to put a stop to it, then what does that say about ourselves? Maybe it says that we have become impotent victims of, and willing participants in our own demise, be it the tiny hairs in our cochlea, or our ability to stop the madness and momentum of destruction around us.

I’m all for a good time. Who doesn’t need it now and then? But we shouldn’t have to put ourselves in harm’s way and extinguish virtually all communication during the process in the name of some group of musicians’ utterly preoccupied inebriation with their own power, and our concomitant lack thereof.

Marc Twang


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