Methods and maneuvers for getting the most out of the Macklemore concert

Annie Bartholomew/Sun Star Reporter
May 1, 2012

On the evening of Friday, April 27, 2012, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis rocked the crowd of 1300 people with their most well known song "And We Danced" played second to last and proving to be an exhilarating end to the two hour show. Erin McGroarty/ Sun Star

Going to a hip-hop show is a lot like playing basketball. It’s a great game, but the players are dirty, and if you want to get the best spot, you have to work for it. Hip-hop shows are also a marathon, they are hot and sweaty, and you have the challenge of dancing longer and harder than all of your peers without water or bathroom breaks. Bonus points if you look good doing it.

When working my way to the front, I choose the path of least resistance and commit to it. No audience is going to want to just let you in; it’s a game of finding the right angle running with it. If you really want to make progress in a crowd, don’t start pushing until the music starts, you will just look like a jerk if you do. Wait for the artist to encourage the audience to “jump” or “dance” and then make your move.

For me, I start in a basketball stance. Get low, butt out, with your back to the stage and stay on your toes for balance. Use your booty for leverage and dance like you don’t realize you’re in a crowd full sweaty, angry people, aggressively moving your butt forward.

Whenever someone changes places with a friend, it is your opportunity to take the free space. The trick is to use your legs to first step and then wedge your body into the gap before the dancers realize you’re up in their grill. Sometimes a sudden shift allows room for an extra one-fourth of a person. Go ahead and grab your best friend’s arm and pull them ahead. Rubbing up on people you know is a far better choice than rubbing the guy in a hoodie who keeps randomly grabbing you.

At a hip-hop show you have to know the moves. If you’re not using your butt for leverage, turn around and put one arm in the air, flailing it in sync with the beat. You will look just like Ryan Lewis while you torture the girl next to you whose elbow is purposefully digging into your side.

Guys aren’t as aggressive about space as girls, so it’s important to never throw an elbow back when it gets rough out on the dance floor.  Trick your opponent into thinking that you’re too intoxicated to feel pain, so they’d better just let you get to the front of this show. If a guy does try to forcibly move you, he will probably use his hips to do it. When this happens I encourage you to employ a dance move from the ’70s called “the bump.” It was all the rage when your parents were in college and now it’s the rage for countering unwanted hip thrusts in your direction. Simply meet that person’s hip with your hip, in time with the music. The rhythm is the most important part. Eventually you will out-dance them, and they will go back to grinding with that girl they just met.

And when you make a lot of progress, especially between songs, apologize profusely to the people around you saying, “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, we’re being pushed from all sides!” Which is generally half-true at any hip-hop show. At this point in the show, people are being pushed from the back and sides, and most of them just want their space. If you can survive this spot without a panic attack, you will most likely make it to the front.

Getting to the barrier is only half the battle, keeping your spot is a whole different story. At the front of the stage, the fans are ruthless, and they will do anything to keep their torso against the barrier. This Springfest I discovered a new tactic at the front by accident:  don’t shave your armpits three days leading up to the concert. Macklemore will not be grossed out by this — but the girls trying to steal your spot at the barrier will be. And when they start calling you “Chewbacca armpits,” you know you have the upper hand. For guys, just don’t shower. No one will know except for everyone who is forced to stand next to you.

Use the holes in the metal barrier to get your knee, thigh and calf inside the metal bars. That way, you are attached to the barrier during any unsuspected pushes from the right or left. Also, make friends with the dudes who are holding the barriers in place. Give them high fives, smile big, and thank them for their great work protecting the world from crowd-surfing drunk guys in gold sequins. It really happened, and I really got a rug burn from his sequined jumpsuit.

Life at the front is more glamorous than you ever imagined: a cool breeze at all times, plenty of arm room, Macklemore rapping to you and sometimes watching your best friend kiss Ryan Lewis on the neck.

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