Dancing, screaming, and general excitable chaos. That's what I expected at my (long overdue) first gig experience a few weeks ago.
This was one of my favourite artists, fast becoming a global megastar on the pop/electronic music scene. And yet, as the drums kicked in... nothing. People stood there and stared. I turned around - faces stared back at me (or rather, over my head).
Where was the life?
This was the moment I realised just how important social dance is. My friend and I lingered near a couple of girls who were dancing and belting out all the lyrics. 'They're drunk,' I laughed, 'but at least they're enjoying themselves!'
Then the ball dropped. This was a gig with a largely under-18 crowd. The bars at either side of the stage had been practically empty before the show.
But is it really so hard for people to dance without a drink?
I remember taking part in Rock Challenge at school - a wonderful initiative which I faithfully served for five years, and especially valued as a young dancer at a school which offered no extra-curricular dance classes and no dance GCSE option.
The national annual dance competition aims to encourage kids off the streets and into dance. But for me it was so much more - a free way of continuing my dance practice, with a performance to strive towards - and I'm sure you recognise the significance of such an opportunity, with our currently limited arts funding and the non-existence of dance on the new E:Bacc spec.
Solutions like Rock Challenge not only actively promote an anti-drink, anti-drugs message, but potentially, through the act of dance training itself, reduce use of artificial highs. Think about it - if each and every one of us had undertaken dance training, how much more confident would we be on that dance floor, or at that gig, to just go all out and move?
I'm talking to some of you gentlemen especially, sauntering at the sidelines with a beer (I know, I know, it's a stereotype). Then again, how many of us ladies have, when asked to come to the dance floor, replied, 'maybe after a few drinks!'? Guilty.
I have been lucky enough to be able to practise dance since I was barely out of nappies, but I know for certain that when other people dance sober, I can dance sober. It's a group conformity thing. You know what I mean - there's always one friend, the 'dancer', who gets people shuffling about on the floor regardless of sobriety.
The impact of dance training feeds into social dance. Dance is an art form fundamental for our health - not just on a fitness level, but on more levels than it seems many figures in fundamental roles are even aware.
The proof is in the party.