One of my favorite comparisons of all time is dance vs everything. It’s always applicable. A couple of days ago I somehow stumbled into the territory of comparing dance with hooking up, and then further down the hatch to dance – hooking up – spoken word – it’s all just rhetorics anyway.
I’m blaming Brad Morden for this one. I was listening to Burn it down, and started thinking about why that song has stayed with me so long, because I keep coming back to it.
It’s not just because it’s an awesome song or that he is seriously playing Ukulele, it’s also the whole of Brad Morden as a persona and performer. He is just very likable on stage (at least when I saw him, but I have a hard time seeing he would have turned into an evil overlord all of the sudden). He seems nice, and trustworthy.
The same song sung by someone who doesn’t create that atmosphere of familiarity would just be awful. The same text accompanied not by this nice bearded guy that seems to do his best to make you feel good, but by some weird ass bitter type… No. It wouldn’t work.
And this is the thing, here is the place where we jump from Brad all the way to hooking up with someone, it works the same way with hitting on people. You can say pretty far fetched things when you are able to create that atmosphere. If you can show what an awesome person you are, you can also without any problem say ”let’s go home and sex this up” without insulting anyone.
Why? Because you have helped create an environment where it is ok at any point to say no and back out.
I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how I do to find partners throughout my life (hey, guys, it’s not THAT weird that I do, ok?), and this is really the main thing. Rhetorics. Be engaging and trustworthy, and you are more or less there already. Most of us are too old to give shit about looks by now, it’s so much more fun to hang out with someone who can give freely and has some smarts about them, than someone whose main thing is their long legs or six pack.
This goes for poetry as well. I’d rather spend the night listening to someone I feel drawn to in terms of rhetorical style, message, body language, than the most skilled poet who just reads straight up from the book, without even trying to reach the audience. Even if the text the latter reads is better. I don’t think the best poet should win – I think the best performer should win.
I want spoken word and slam to be about communication. When it’s good it’s an awesome performance of push/pull (one example of that would be what some call banter, and some PUA probably would call negging for God knows what reason), and great to be part of. I’ve heard poets so good that it felt like they went out in to the audience, picked up each and everyone of us in their arms and then carried us through the story. To be able to sweep away the gray reality and replace it just for three minutes and nine seconds with something completely different is a great gift.
Communication is the magic that happen when you stop waiting for the other person to shut up so you can speak, and instead actually listen and tweak your own message according to what the other person is signalling you. It doesn’t have to be Q/A-style for that magic to take place, but just that notion that the other person is responding and reacting.
When on stage you want to constantly take in the audience, preferably on some mystically subconscious level, and incorporate their output into your own, find reaction and use that. If they are shutting you out, you need to find someone who isn’t, and start with that person, and slowly make the others gain trust in you. If this never works for you, you are doing something wrong.
When dancing, it’s the exact same thing. You need to communicate your intentions clearly enough to make the other person relax – then they can follow your lead or lead your follow, and trust you. And I don’t mean speaking out loud.
When trying to hit on someone, same thing. Be honest in your body language and respond to the other person, and you’ll get there.
(Oh, and also when hitting on people, hot tip, when you touch someone there are ways of knowing if they feel awkward or not. You can sort of feel it in your hand. WORK ON THAT SKILL. Ask a friend if you can put your hand on their shoulder, and do it while the person is relaxing or tensing up, and listen to what your hand and body tells you. )
So, get up on stage, pick up the audience, and carry them all the way over to the safe harbour. Go go go!