You’re heading home from work after enduring another 11 hours of your micromanaging boss who has no clue what he’s doing. You’re also exhausted because you were up late doing picklebacks the night before because hey, it was already Monday. When you get home you’re going to try to clean up the disaster zone that is your inbox before watching Suits on demand to see what that weirdo Louis did last episode. You hop on the 4 train and, miraculously, find an open seat. You collapse into it like an old football stadium being imploded. Maybe this day is turning a corner.
It will only last a couple of minutes, if that, but you’ll ask yourself important questions. Questions like, “Why this car? Why this train? Why must I — we, the inhabitants of this car — have whirling feet mere inches from our faces in this amateur dance show? Why hast thou forsaken me?
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this will give you a good idea:
Thankfully, subway performances aren’t something beyond human control, which is why the NYPD is cracking down on these subway pole dancers.
The AP reports that so far this year, more than 240 people have been arrested on acrobatic-related misdemeanors. Granted, an arrest for subway dancing is a bit harsh, and I’d certainly hope that first time offenders are issued written warnings or small fines. But repeat offenders or people who give cops a hard time — like the ones the AP says spit on and tried to bite police officers — should get a pair of cuffs.
Police commissioner Bill Bratton has acknowledged subway dancing isn’t a serious offense. “Is it a significant crime? Certainly not,” he said recently. But, he added, “Does it have the potential both for creating a level of fear as well as a level of risk that you want to deal with?”
Of course, performers see it differently.
“We all, as New Yorkers, get these force fields around us. We just try to go inside the train and change the vibe,” said a performer named Besnkheru, who didn’t want his full name used because of the crackdown.
Fact: With a name like Besnkheru, even in this city of eight million diverse people it still shouldn’t be too hard to find him. (Nice goatee, by the way.)
More to the point, some of us just don’t want the vibe changed. If the subway dancing were happening above ground, most of us still wouldn’t go see it. At least then, however, we’d have the option of walking away if we happened upon it. The same thing can be said for a panhandler on the street. You can walk away.
But in the subway, you’re trapped. That is unless you want to walk into another car as the train is moving, which is also illegal.
Truth be told, that “force field” is really one of the few things keeping me sane in this manic metropolis. People are everywhere. People I look at. People I talk to. But sometimes, I don’t want to interact with anyone. Or see an impromptu dance performance, for that matter. Sometimes all I want to do is just sit here with my earbuds in as they pump an all-encompassing genre of music called Not-the-Subway.