festival

ALAN! Who the f**k is Alan?!

You know what a Mexican wave is, right? Where the crowd in a stadium creates a wave effect by standing up and raising their arms then sitting down again, in turn? Well, I found a different version of this at The Big Chill festival this weekend.

I can only imagine it all started when someone wandered off from his group of friends and they were trying to get his attention to rejoin them. It probably began with one friend shouting, “Alan!” and when Alan didn’t hear the others joined in. Passers by, thinking it would be either helpful or amusing joined in too and for some reason this caught on and, in no time, people throughout the entire festival were shouting, “Alan!” just once each which created a wave of sound rippling through the crowds, even reaching the far corners of the campsite.

But it didn’t just happen once. Every now and again somebody would start the Alan game again and within a minute or two it had rippled around the festival grounds, each of us yelling, “Alan!” at the top our of voices and then collapsing into laughter and, like a baby playing peek-a-boo or a dog chasing a stick, we didn’t tire of it and it was fun every single time, even at 3am, tucked up in our sleeping bags, trying to sleep; we’d hear the Alan wave approach, yell, “Alan!” then there’d be giggling from all the surrounding tents. Genius.

But it begs the question: Why did we join in?

Because it allowed us to be silly and childish and playful without the fear of being frowned upon
Because each of us aches to belong and feel connected and this daft game connected us almost instantly to 30,000 people
Because sitting in the countryside and yelling at the top of our lungs is brilliant stress relief

How often are we allowed to shout? Not often really if at all and it’s only a sidestep from singing (loudly!) which we can sometimes get away with.

So, what have we got here?

Silliness – by letting go of our inhibitions
Connectedness – by joining in with others
Stress relief – by letting go of our voices

This reminds me of the famous quote (which I happen to have on my Facebook page):

“Dance as though no-one is watching
Love like you’ve never been hurt
Sin
g as though no-one can hear you
Live as though heaven is on earth.”

Thanks, Alan. (Whoever you are!)


3 replies
  1. Ivor Tymchak
    Ivor Tymchak says:

    Decades ago, whilst waiting for a band to come on stage, the audience would shout “Wally!” I never knew why they did this but, like you have explained, sometimes the most stupid of things captures people’s imaginations.

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