Anyone who has been to a Dan Deacon gig will have a rough idea of what is going on in this photograph but anyone else might require some explanation. Dan Deacon is an electronic musician and composer from Baltimore who is well known for his unique live shows (that’s Baltimore in the US by the way, not the Baltimore on the south coast of Ireland that was sacked by Algerian pirates in 1631). Typically he sets up his equipment on the floor and then orchestrates various forms of audience participation throughout the gig. A common one is the human tunnel, which starts with a pair of punters holding hands above their heads and forming an arch. Two more audience members go under the arch and links hands on the other side. Two more go through, extending the tunnel further, and so on and so on. Sometimes the tunnel goes right out the door of the venue, down the street and then back in again. Does that make sense? No? Then look at the video below which shows it happening the last time he played Dublin.
He returned to play in the Button Factory a week or so ago. I set the camera up on the balcony as usual and the photograph at the top is the result. It isn’t a photograph of the human tunnel (though I have one of those as well) but of the “dance-off”. What happens here is that Deacon makes the crowd form a big space in the middle of the floor. He then gets two volunteers to start doing some crazy dancing. They are supposed to eye-ball each other when doing it and when either one wants to stop they tag someone else in the crowd who has to jump in and take over.
In the Button Factory last week this lasted about a minute before the whole thing broke down and the entire crowd jumped in and started going completely nuts. Nevertheless you can still see the remnants of the space in the middle of the floor. If you look really closely you can also see Dan Deacon himself; he’s just to the right of the skull on a stick, and holding a microphone to his face, possibly caught by another photographer’s flash. The guitar on the stage probably belongs to Patrick Kelleher, whose band were on just before Deacon. It’s looks pretty lonely up there.
The photograph is an exposure of 2 minutes and 45 seconds which is how long the “dance-off” lasted. I spent those 2 minutes and 45 seconds thinking that if this shot works out it will be one of the best ones yet, capturing the energy of a few hundred people dancing their asses off. It’s not often that a shot turns out more or less exactly the way I hoped it would, but this one did. It’s a great feeling.