Friday, October 26, 2012

Concert brings sense of community connection

From today's Briefing:

On Sunday night, eight Frisco moms piled into a slightly sketchy cab outfitted with a karaoke machine and flashy lights, heading to dinner and an appointment with Madonna.
We’re united by neighborhood, children, soccer teams, volunteer commitments — and the opportunity to relive our youth for a night.
Back when we actually were young, the eight of us were flung all over the globe. One in Hawaii, one in Norway. One in Saudi Arabia, one in Southern California. Four Texas girls came from suburbs, big cities and small towns.
When we were teens bebopping to “Holiday” and “Lucky Star,” none of us imagined that in the year 2012 we’d gather in Dallas with other friends-to-be to watch Madonna sing and dance.
And we certainly couldn’t have imagined the thousands of other fans who would congregate.
Under one arena roof was a great sea of sequined, glittered, pierced humanity. Sure, there were plenty of understated outfits — dark skinny jeans, black flowy blouses, tasteful black boots, tame costume jewelry. Who really stood out? The guys in animal print hot pants. The middle-aged women in lacy tutus and platform heels and fingerless gloves. The group of men in matching, revealing, fluorescent pink tank tops.
The scene was nothing like our typical suburban mom haunts — our kids’ elementary school, Kroger, the Y, mild-mannered office spaces. And that’s part of what made the night so special. Disparate groups of people who rarely run in the same circles found common ground for one night. That’s pretty remarkable these days, given our current state of affairs.
Look no further than my Facebook news feed — and probably yours, too — for evidence of the great divide. In these final days before the election, I can read dire warnings of the inevitable breakdown of everything this country stands for if (fill in the blank) is elected. I have access to conspiracy theories and name-calling and extreme pontificating.
We’re no longer a country that watches the same prime-time shows at the same time. We have the luxury of scheduling our viewing when it’s convenient, and we have so many options that there’s little overlap in anyone’s repertoire. (My recent rotation: retreads of Downton Abbey and Arrested Development.)
Our playlists are ├╝ber-personalized. We have access to satellite radio and Pandora and Spotify and whatever whims we’ve fulfilled on iTunes.
All this division and sequestration worries me. There’s great value in big community experiences, even when they’re superficial.
I’m heartened when there’s a collective something that most everyone can agree on. Like the tragedy of Big Tex bursting into flames — and the goodhearted acceptance of all the jokes that followed. Like the acknowledgment that “Call Me Maybe” isn’t a great song, but it sure is catchy. And if it comes on in a public place, it is perfectly acceptable to sing along and perhaps emulate the original video or one of many subsequent viral videos.
That sense of community is why my favorite moment from the Madonna concert was the superstar’s rendition of “Like a Prayer.” She encouraged the whole crowd to join her.
Thousands of us sang along. We were straight, gay, buttoned up, tattooed, introverted, extroverted, urban, suburban. Maybe we felt a deep connection to the lyrics. Maybe we were just blissfully reliving 1989.
We knew the melody. We knew all the words. We were connected, if only for a moment.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at

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