Cold Rain, Dancing Umbrellas, and Electronic Music
A Quick and Dirty Anecdote from Austin City Limits Music Fest
Two of my best buddies from college came into town for the recent Austin City Limits music festival. We were chilling at the Honda Stage, near the back where it was still flat but there was space to move around, with my girlfriend and another lifelong friend. I was happy to be with them; I got my tickets to spend time with them and enjoy the experience of the festival, not to see any particular bands. This fact is important in a moment.
The “band” was a DJ. The beat dropped. I started dancing.
The sun was setting through dark storm clouds, casting surreal, muted light across the crowd of thousands. I kicked off my sandals and remarked how crazy it was to be seeing electronic music with all the flashing strobes at an outdoor festival. Looking at the stage felt like we were packed inside a basement dance club, looking up at the sky felt like we were in vast open space of Zilker Park, with plenty of room thousands of other festival-goers.
A voice in Jordan’s head: “If you’re dancing, it means you like this music.”
B voice in Jordan’s head: “So what?”
A voice: “You’ve barely even heard it, and you have picky tastes. You need to represent what you believe.”
B voice: “Oh.”
I stopped dancing. My mood darkened as I focused on criticizing the music. Was it good enough to pass my standards? Was it unique and creative, or predictable? Was it skilled? I forgot all about my friends. It started raining. The water was cold.
B voice: “Wait a second, I’m here to have a good time with my friends. I’m not here to posture as some sort of music snob, or publish some sort of critique of this DJ. I need to represent what I believe—that I have nothing to prove, that each and every moment I can choose to experience joy and peace regardless of circumstances.”
Duh! What a silly little distraction. I started dancing again. I found an umbrella for my one friend who doesn’t like to be wet, and he squatted down under it keeping himself and our bags dry. He covered himself so completely that I couldn’t see anything beneath the umbrella.
Remembering why I was there, I embraced the rain. Thank God it was cold—the day had been blazing hot! I was dancing like crazy, jumping up and down to the beat.
My other friends and I started dancing in circles around our umbrella friend. The people behind us cheered us on and laughed. He spun the umbrella in the direction we were going, joining the dance in his own unique way, and when we changed directions he changed with us. We were soaking wet by now, and we loved it.
It wasn’t just that it didn’t matter whether or not the music was good, or that it was raining, or that my friend was crouched under an umbrella instead of up and dancing with the rest of us. These elements weren’t some negative thing to be reframed; they were the exact elements that made this moment magical. The experience didn’t last long, but it didn’t have to. I’ll never forget the four of us dancing circles around the spinning umbrella in the downpour, to the soundtrack of electronic dance music. It was truly beautiful. It was joyous.
May your life be full of cold rain, dancing umbrellas, and electronic music.