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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Racial Differences In Audience Etiquette

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post focuses on the subject of racial differences in audience etiquette. By "audience etiquette" I mean understood rules and expectations for appropriate behavior during musical, theater, and performances. "Audience etiquette" can also refer to understood rules and expectations for appropriate behavior during church services and other religious occasions.

Some of the excerpts in this post provide information about the changes in audience etiquette for [European] classical music that have occurred and may be occurring now.

Some excerpts from this post are included in the content and my comments from the pancocojams post entitled "The Sylvers' 1976 Hit Song "Boogie Fever" And YouTube Comments About Big Afros & "Dead" Audiences" http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-sylvers-1976-hit-song-boogie-fever.html

This post also includes a viewer's comment on this subject and my explanatory note about that comment in the pancocojams post entitled "What "Sugar" Means In Soca Music" http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-sugar-means-in-soca-music.html

The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and all those are featured in these videos.

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EXCERPTS AND COMMENTS ABOUT RACIAL DIFFERENCES IN AUDIENCE ETIQUETTE
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
These excerpts are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only.

EXCERPT #1
[Pancocojams Editor's Note:
I wrote this comment as an Addendum to this January 2018 pancocojams post http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-sylvers-1976-hit-song-boogie-fever.html The Sylvers' 1976 Hit Song "Boogie Fever" And YouTube Comments About Big Afros & "Dead" Audiences
"It's possible that the audience for this Midnight Special television show featuring The Sylvers' performance of "Boogie Night" -and other Midnight Special shows were instructed to be silent and stay in their seats without clapping or moving during the show's taping.

However, I believe that there are core differences in audience etiquette during performances or other cultural events (including religious events) between African Americans and White Americans, and between some other racial populations. I have experienced these cultural differences and have read about them online, including in some YouTube discussion threads of other videos (and especially pre-1980s videos) of African American performances in front of White audiences or majority White audiences in the United States and in Europe.

Generally speaking, African Americans' audience etiquette is rooted in Black African traditions where people are expected to demonstrate their appreciation-or lack of appreciation for performances- during and not just after those performances. In so doing, audiences give energy to the performers and are active participants in those performances. This active, expressive audience behavior has been found and continues to be found during religious events such as certain but not all Black denominations' church services and during certain non-religious cultural performances such as some musical concerts, plays, spoken word events, and rallies.

Here are some verbal examples and physical examples of active expressive audience behavior during performances and/or other non-religious or religious cultural events:

Verbal
-shouting approval exclamations such as "Amen!", "Go 'head!", "Do it!", "Yeah!" [Note that disapproval exclamations may also be shouted]
-speaking on command in "response" to a performer's "call"

Physical
-nodding your head in time with the song
-clapping hands along with a song
-raising your hand (and/or waving your hand) while seated or standing up
-raising both hands (and/or waving both hands)
-standing up
-singing along
-dancing

Historical accounts of English theatre audiences attending Shakespearean plays and other plays of that time document that those audiences demonstrated some of these active, expressive audience behaviors, and more. However, eventually the White European norm developed in which the audience was-and largely still is- expected to be silent and still during cultural performances, i.e. audiences were and are expected to be inactive and non-expressive during performances and other cultural events.

I've experienced how people are sometimes not sure which audience etiquette standards they should follow when there are integrated audiences for cultural events in the United States. This particularly occurred at "downtown" events when audiences consist of a large number of African Americans and also a considerable number of White Americans. One example that comes to mind was during a Drum Line performance that I attended that was staged by an African American ensemble. In addition to playing drums as if they were part of a drum & bugle corp drum line, the ensemble sang and danced to old & current Black songs. Because this performance was held in a downtown concert venue, and because there were so many White folks there, I believe that Black folks' expressive responses to the show was far less than it would have been if the performance had been held in a Black community venue and if there were no White people or fewer White people in attendance."
-snip-
Here's the video of The Sylvers performing their 1976 hit song "Boogie Fever" on the American television Midnight Special:

The Sylvers - Boogie Fever (Midnight Special 1976)



thepaak786, Published on Nov 8, 2009

The Sylvers Perform "Boogie Fever" on The Midnight Special In 1976.
-snip-
Here are some comments from that video's discussion thread that were included in that pancocojams post. Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only. (These comments have different numbers than those that I assigned for them in that post).

1. thediva3BC, 2010
"It's cracking me up how this audience is subdued and then watch the same performance on soul train and the audience is PARTYIN'"
-snip-
Soul Train was a long running [from October 2, 1971 to March 27, 2006], iconic dance series that mostly targeted Black Americans. The series was "created by Don Cornelius, who also served as its first host and executive producer." Click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soul_Train for information about Soul Train.

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2. eniebabe44
"@Nanadsyl ..unfortunalely that was the Midnight Special Audience for a while..they would just sit there and then applaud at the end...the show got on my nerves because people are performing their asses off and the audience just sits there...the producers of the show must have been out of the minds or maybe they were hungover...lol"

**
3. memdiva, 2011
"That choreography is sooooo amazing! They really got down up there! I cant believe the crowd was just sitting there. How can you just sit there amd stare and something like that and not dance? I would have caught the boogie fever right along with the sylvers!"

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4. Yabbadabbawhat100, 2011
"@949galaxy I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing the audience was told to stay seated by the director. It's the only explanation I can think of for people quietly sitting through a killer performance like that. :-)"

**
5. Mama Nuveau, 2011
"@Nina513 Yeah, but that audience WAS mostly white, even though they were on The Midnight Special show, which was supposed to be so hip and cool with all that acts they showcased. That audience WAS pitiful...dead, dead, dead! They could've at least had some cues for the audience to get hype like they do now...but that was then...Ed Sullivan's audiences were much more lively, it seemed."

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6. Scott O'Mary, 2013
"The funniest part of this clip is not the afro's or the clothes, but the audience full of stiff white people"

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7. T Conte, 2013
"That audience was about the unboogiest audience of all time. Stiff as boards, except for a few. How could they remain so still with this funkiness?"

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REPLY
8. pchelloo, 2013
"Yeah...I agree......must've been in Russia or Korea maybe? True Sylvers fan here"

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9. Jez Parish, 2014
"Check out the drummer - looks as bored as hell. Are the audience all dead????"

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REPLY
10. CaneFu, 2014
"Are the audience all dead?"...NO, it's called 'watching and appreciating' the performance"

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REPLY
11. Jez Parish, 2014
"Really? How the hell could you tell? lol"

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REPLY
12 elijah jackson, 2014
"+CaneFu They're in Japan?"

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14. jmusic45, 2014
"That's a dead looking audience. I don't even see but one person nodding their head,"

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15. Jim Bilbrey, 2016
"yeah the audience looks like a bunch of Deadbeats. but if that had been a soul train audience. with Don Cornelius they would be getting down"

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EXCERPT #2
From https://www.americantheatre.org/2015/12/09/why-i-almost-slapped-a-fellow-theatre-patron-and-what-that-says-about-our-theatres/ Why I Almost Slapped a Fellow Theatre Patron, and What That Says About Our Theatres

How a seemingly normal night at the theatre led to an altercation with a patron over microaggressions and white privilege.

BY DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU, DECEMBER 9, 2015
Pancocojams Editor's Note:
In this article, Dominique Morisseau, a self-described award winning Black playwright shares incidents of what she considers to be "microaggressions" and "white prilege" that occurred during her attendance at an off-Broadway play. In summary, an elderly White woman noticed that she and the friends with her didn't have tickets when they asked at the box office about discounted tickets. The White woman (who Ms. Morisseau calls "Jane") "handed me the tickets"...Then, as she walked away, she added, “Just don’t pop your gum, because I hate that.” [The writer added] "I wasn’t chewing any gum at the time."

Ms Morisseau then wrote that "As the production began, we were suddenly transported into an interactive audience experience. I had developed a role in this play as an actress, so I knew the culture and tone that the play was setting. The lights were up on the audience to invite us into our own personal “church‐like” experience. And my own church experience is a buoyant one, so I began to laugh and nod my head as the play’s music began. I clapped as the onstage choir clapped.

Because I was sitting dead center, I was even recognized by the lead of the show, who started to use me as he gave his opening monologue; he made eye contact and gestured to me. In the middle of the play’s opening, as my friend and I laughed and enjoyed ourselves, Jane leaned in toward me and whispered, “Can you stop and keep it down?”...

First the gum-popping comment, and now this. Two things went through my head. The first was instant rage. The second was audacity. And that audacity caused me to respond to Jane in a whisper: “I will laugh whenever I think things are funny, so get used to it. You’re not going to tell me how I should respond to art.” Jane tried to chastise me further, but I simply put my hand up and said, “No more.”

[...]

Ms Morrison also lists several other incidents that she describes as "microaggressions and "white privilege". One of those incidents was "That time at a prestigious theatre festival when black women were responding exactly how I want them to respond to my play—loudly and expressively and “ummm hmm”-ing—and an older white patron approached them at intermission and said: “Can you enjoy the play a little quieter, please? ”
-snip-
That article has 253 comments, some of them supportive of the writer's position, but most of them very critical of her behavior towards Jane and her assumptions that Jane exhibited any "white privilege". Here are some of those comments: (All of these comments are from 2015. Numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only)
1. EJ L
"I'm a playwright and a theatre goer. As a playwright I love hearing all kinds of loud responses to my work, because it's validating however at the same time when I'm going to see work at a theatre or a movie theatre for that matter, I'm a total sound nazi because people (anybody) making any sort of noise takes me out of the world of what's going on onstage. If you were to mention the show, maybe Hamilton? After spending a ton of money I personally wouldn't want to hear you at all or anyone else. Again, it disturbs my energetic connection to what's going on onstage. I understand why you'd want to make it about race, but it isn't. It is theatre etiquette. Was the gum popping comment extremely rude? Yes (though I haven't offered a piece of gum to my mom since 1996 for the same reason). Would I have told you to keep it down too? Yes, because I didn't pay to hear you, I paid to hear these wonderful people and you are creating an oppressive environment for me where my experience of the piece is ruined by me being angry. Because race is such a sensitive topic and I realize this is just one more trigger since she was white, I don't think it's that. If I were sitting in churches where call and response is required (and I've been singing in those places for 15 years) I do get upset when people aren't actively participating but when you're in a Broadway theatre that's specifically not interactive like say Sleep No More, those aren't the rules and I think being noisy when it's not like at the end of a song or the end of a great monologue, it's disrespectful to those who are trying to listen. Also if you were part of the development of this play, then you aren't experiencing it for the first time like these other people. And I think it's fair that these people get to have the quiet space to decide on their own how to feel here. I understand wanting to fly off the handle because of all the horrible crap going on in this world but I think it's important ESPECIALLY as a playwright to take into consideration how someone wants to receive the work so it's affective with them."

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Response to EJ L
2. Olivia Wray EJ L
"The world does not exist to cater to your personal needs. just because you prefer to enjoy things one way, doesn't mean someone can't enjoy things a different way. sure, i don't like loud noises either. i'd probably get annoyed, as well. even still, i wouldn't DARE tell someone that them overtly enjoying the show is the wrong way to do so. there isn't always strictly a right and wrong way to do anything. in some cases, there are. sleep no more being a great example of when things need to be more on the quiet side of things. but if someone is watching an interactive show that's funny, like in this particular article, people are EXPECTED to make noise, to laugh. if someone expresses themselves loudly, the actors are responsible for staying in character and working through it. who knows? it might even make the show more enjoyable. i love when actors break the fourth wall and interact with us and having a vocal audience member gives actors something to work with. as an actor myself, i'd much prefer to hear people in the audience than having a silent audience. it's so much more fun. so please, just open your mind to other people's experiences and try and stop seeing things as "I paid money for this," etc. it's not about you."

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Response to EJ L
3. WriterBCuz
"I go to the theater a lot, and it's absolutely not OK with me (and most everyone else) if people make extra noise or talk and I can't hear the words that the actors are speaking.
I think it is more helpful to make it NOT about race on this particular issue."

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4. lumppumpkin
"Ok so lemme get this straight.. So you don't have money to buy a ticket so an old lady who happens to be white helps you out by giving you the ticket for free. She makes a bit of a rude remark when it comes to not chewing gum but to be fair no one should really be chewing gum at a theater. So yeah slight rude remark but SHE GAVE YOU A TICKET FOR FREE, c'mon let it pass. Then when you are both watching the play you're being quite loud so she asks you to be quiet at which you refute her and then very rudely gave her a "talk to the hand" now this is a BIG NO NO, my parent and I hope everyone's parents have taught them not to look a gift horse in the mouth and to be thankful when receiving gifts. If it was me I'd be on my best behavior but to actually do something that rude, very very disrespectful and I bet that's what her husband was thinking as well. They just wanted to watch a play in peace, decided to help a girl out and then you are rude to them, if I was in your position, I would've apologized on the spot or left quickly after the play was over but no you had to once again then confront her after the play on why she was "policing you" SHE WANTED TO HEAR THE PLAY that's all, and then you dare start trying to talk shit behind her back to others, of course she'd stand up for herself, frankly you should be very embarrassed about this whole pathetic ordeal. And the fact that you're trying to get the last word in by posting this up for the public to see makes it more pathetic. This wasn't a race issue, this wasn't any type of issue than you being rude to someone who helped you and to think that you even wanted to slap her, do you have no shame? Honestly this is what anger management classes are for.

You said you want her to respect your enjoyment of the play but this is a two lane street and she wanted to enjoy it with little background noise (who knows, she may have been hard of hearing) and frankly the moment she gave you the ticket FOR FREE meant that her wishes should've been put ahead of your own, it's simple society etiquette for being polite, but no, you want the cake and to eat it too. And to people enabling this type of behavior, why? Have none of you learnt to respect your elders? I'm merely 19 and yet I feel like I have more common sense in this than you guys, do you feel like you're owed the world, that you're special and people should bend over backwards for you? That we owe you our respect? No, that's not how it works, you earn respect and should be polite to others who help you. When I'm old and grey and retired from who knows how many years of work, the last thing I want to happen is to be publicly embarrassed by a self entitled spoiled brat who thinks that me asking her to shush during a play which I bought her ticket for is an issue worth posting a whole article about. Frankly I probably wouldn't have the energy for it, go on Jane for being able to put you in your place at the end. Sure you may not have "needed" her charity but you damn well accepted it anyways, honestly you just have no shame, I hope you figure things out for yourself and apologize to Jane the next time you ever see her."
-snip-
I reformmated this comment to enhance its readability/

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5. Jackie Davis
"#ppi that time I went to see Passing Strange at New Rep where Cliff O and Maurice P and Cheryl S
TORE IT DOWN! My other friends of color and I totally enjoyed it and the actors appreciated our "presence", if you will. At the end of the performance an older, white-haired, white man came right over to me, far within my personal space, AND cut off the conversation I was having to say "maybe you should have enjoyed it (the show) a little less." Without missing a beat I responded "Maybe YOU, should have gone golfing, where it's nice and quiet and about you." He looked shocked. I then added don't you dare to presume that you can approach me and say whatever the hell you feel like. Those days are done."
And then I went back to my conversation. I am at that point. I check them at the gate."

**
Response to Jackie Davis
6. jazzdc
Thanks jackie - I'm Puerto Rican and my wife is black. We are both musicians. I can't tell you the number of times white people look past me to find the band leader (I'm the band leader) or ask my wife (she is a harpist) as she is loading in her instrument when the harpist is going to show up. We are a little older and have witnessed actual discrimination in the past affecting our income, housing etc., so this is nothing for us. We just laugh it off. We have also been to many a broadway show and are fans. I sympathize with all those involved in this situation. However, I have to side with the older woman in the story. Your story sounds similar to the article. You interrupt the performance of the other patrons and thus make the show a bit more about you and your friends instead of the actors. Someone interrupts your conversation to point out your behavior and you set them straight. Perfect. Thanks for confirming negative stereotypes of black folk at the movies and theatre.

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Response to jazzdc
7. smartytrousers
"I guess you missed the part where the people in the play actually appreciated their responses in both stories/situations...because it's all about the white people. Not every play is meant to sit there in absolute silence. Do you like when people come up to you after a show and say, "I was expecting a bit more hip hop?" It would be ridiculous."

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8. Shada
"Really liked this article. I'm a white guy occasional actor, and my "way in" to understanding your POV was noticing that - yes, older audiences laugh less. Even when we (the actors on stage) *know* we're killing it, you get a more muted response from an older audience. The younger folks in the audience are afraid to laugh and react openly, too, because the elitist audiences usually respond with a heavy dose of side-eye. It's classism, it's ageism, and - well - of course it's race, because, like you said, these things are all tied up together.

I like the thing you said about treating theater like church, and then totally described an African-American church. Just because one culture self-inflicts emotional repression doesn't mean they need to ruin everyone else's fun. It's theater, not a mausoleum."

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9. Keith Josef
"Dominique, thank you for this fearless testament to what many of us experience in theater. It is the truth for thousands of us. It's quite unfortunate and very telling that some people (even here leaving comments) can't see how their entitlement gives them license to tell a person of color what they're experiencing is inaccurate or wrong or unjustified, or even define what issues with race and diversity looks like. It is very unfortunate. Again, thank you Dominique for bringing to the surface one of hundreds of issues that plague our theater community. Let's keep talking and exposing and changing."

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Response to Keith Josef
10. htkatt Keith Josef
"I admire your writing, Mr. Josef. But I think you're heaping on a bit in your assessment of Ms. Morisseau's experience. I have no doubt that she - and you - have experienced unpleasantness that you can properly assign to white entitlement. But there is nothing about this encounter that sounds racially motivated to me. Age, definitely. And the woman who gave Ms. Morisseau the tickets handled it clumsily. But as I read Ms. Morisseau's description of the encounter, it sounds to me like she is the one who ratcheted things to up the level of hostility."

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Response to htkatt
11. Keith Josef
"That's just the thing—perhaps you don't feel the encounter sounds racially motivated, but that doesn't mean it isn't. That doesn't mean Ms. Morisseau (or any other person) isn't able to accurately define an encounter as racist or misogynist (whatever the situation), particularly if micro-aggressions are part of the daily experience, part of the historical experience. Ms. Morisseau's testament is not new territory; it happens to thousands, and thousands are able to accurately access what is happening to them and pinpoint the culprits. One of the glitches of entitlement is its inability (and sometimes unwillingness) to legitimize another's experience. It's much like what Ms. Morisseau mentions about people not believing she's the playwright or that the seats were for her parents. There's an entitled culture of deciding what's legit or not. That's what resonated most for me in this piece. My interest is how to dismantle it. It's not healthy for anyone."

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12. Jana Segal
"Wow! What harsh responses to this article! My thoughts... First of all NOBODY likes to be told what to do. That would make me mad and ruin the show for me right there. I wonder how many other people were distracted by their exchange. But this is definitely a cultural difference. I remember the first time I encountered people yelling back at the movie theater in Brooklyn. I was shocked and a bit amused. But I didn't appreciate missing some important lines in the plot. The difference here was that this was an interactive performance. The actor on stage had an exchange with the playwright - perhaps grateful to have someone to play off of. It might have been helpful to have an announcement about the nature of the play - that it would include lively audience interaction. That might have been education enough. And the woman could have decided if it were her cup of tea or not."

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13. marymiriam
"Hey, as a white, older person who goes to the theater a lot…I get told to quiet down, too…I just laugh (out loud). You have to choose your moments. The other person had the problem. But please don't pile all the blame on a whole generation of a particular color. What does that say about you?"

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Response to marymiriam
14. joy m.
"The question isn't whether this sometimes happens to people of all races, but the frequency with which it happens in the provocation for the behavior. White people are pulled over by cops sometimes, but that doesn't mean that people of color don't have a right to complain about the fact that they are disproportionately targeted, often for minor or nonexistent offenses"

**
Response to joy m
15. marymiriam
"Absolutely true. But sometimes, it's just one stupid person. Of course everyone has a right to complain. But this wasn't a pullover by a cop or illegal housing or being turned down for a job or all those other injustices that this society has to fight. Sometimes it's just one stupid person being stupid. You have to pick your battles or you'll just end up exhausted before the fight."

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16. Response to marymiriam
"joy m.
"But the point is, it's not just one person. To quote Dominique, "this isn't an isolated incident". I witnessed a play in an outdoor theater on a chilly night where a white patron was sitting behind a young black man in a hooded sweatshirt that was in no way obstructing her view, and she--without saying a single word to the boy--pulled the hood off of his head. For no reason, except her assumption that she belonged there and he did not. I've seen many other examples of flagrant disrespect. It's there to see if you attend theater with non white people or if you have your eyes open.

I ask you to listen to the people of color writing in this thread who say they have been made to feel unwelcome in our theaters for no reason, time and time and time again. And then think about how the American theater will survive in a diversifying nation if people of color are continually made to feel like intruders when they go to see a play. This is a real issue of grave importance and I'm distressed to see how easily so many on this thread are simply dismissing Dominique's experience."

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17. Jack Whitelaw
"It's true in classical music as well, and it's ultimately going to cause the decline of the entire industry when the aging white audience is gone and no young people will come to the theatre. Very sad."

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EXCERPT #3:
Lord Kitchener - SUGAR BUM BUM




IsDePanInMe, Published on Nov 17, 2007

Calypso/Soca classic by the Grandmaster.
-snip-
"Looks like the audience couldn't get their sugar bum bum's off their chairs. Where was it recorded? Prison?"
-JJMMWGDuPree, 2011
-snip-
This comment suggests that the usual audience response to Soca music is dancing or at least moving to the music in your seat. However, I've noticed that when Black folks are in settings that are either integrated with White people or settings that are considered "upper class", there is often some confusion about which rules of audience behavior to follow. Or there is a tendency to follow the White middle class standard which is the opposite of dancing or moving in one's seat (or overtly responding to performances until those performances are completed.

[I wrote this comment in this 2013 pancocojams post "What "Sugar" Means In Soca Music" http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-sugar-means-in-soca-music.html]

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EXCERPT #4
Here's an excerpt from an article that cites changes in concert etiquette in China: "Off notes: lessons in etiquette for China’s classical music concertgoers" http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/1802690/notes-lessons-etiquette-chinas-classical-music-concertgoers
21 May, 2015
..."Zheng, who founded the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra in Fujian, recalled the first performance in China by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in October, 1979.

The venue, the Beijing Capital Gymnasium, was filled with people who had just stepped out from the shadow of the Cultural Revolution. The conductor, Herbert von Karajan, stood on the stage and waited until the whole hall was silent.

“Many people were late, and we waited for a long time,” Zheng said. “Everyone held their breath because we all knew what he was waiting for.”

In Zheng’s eyes, Karajan gave an important lesson in theatre etiquette to the audience: don’t be late, and keep quiet.

After that concert, Zheng devoted herself to passing on more knowledge of theatre etiquette to concertgoers. Between movements of her concerts, she takes a few minutes to explain aspects of classical music to the audience, from the meaning of a prelude to the correct time to applaud.

“I don’t think our audiences are intentionally rude, but they’re not aware of the traditions of concert etiquette,” Zheng said.

In Chinese tradition, concerts were often held in restaurants and teahouses, where applause and cheers from the audience were a sign of appreciation when performers hit a high pitch. In contrast, an audience of Western classical music refrains from applauding until all the movements have been performed.

The lack of national education about Western music also makes it difficult to spread such knowledge to all audiences.

“I taught them the very basics about concert etiquette 30 years ago, but I am still trying to teach them the same thing,” Zheng said."...

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EXCERPT #5
From https://www.wqxr.org/story/217763-show-audiences-be-allowed-clap-whenever-they-want/ Jun 20, 2012
When Franz Liszt performed, the audience got so caught up in the moment that it would applaud and cheer after every movement. Sometimes people would even clap during the performance. Liszt then might start to improvise and work the crowd like a Vegas performer. Nowadays such behavior would be unthinkable. But should it be?

In a recent article for the Huffington Post, Richard Dare, the CEO and managing director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, argued that classical concerts have become too devoid of such spontaneity. Audiences are stifled by ritual and protocol, he said, and are afraid of clapping between movements and attracting the scorn of fellow patrons."...
-snip-
Here are three comments from that article's discussion thread

David from Flushing
"Baroque operas and oratorios suffer greatly when there is applause at the end of each aria. It can make for a very long performance and interrupts the flow of the music.

I see movie theaters have resorted to movie etiquette instruction before films with such helpful advice as do not talk during the show. Perhaps this is needed at concerts/operas as well. The Met used to have "The audience is urgently requested not to interrupt the performance with applause" printed in the program."
Jun 23, 2012, 8:50 PM

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Cameron Stevens from Denver, CO
"I think they should get a general consensus from the performers, if they would be disturbed if applause came at non-traditional times. Then, they should make an announcement at the same time as the one about listening devices. I think that would be the most respectful. As for my own personal preference, I think applause after movements or breaks should be allowed. The urge to applaud should not be quashed. In this day and age with the arts being crushed, we should encourage any positive reaction to whatever is being experienced. As a performer, I would appreciate the break to 1) rest and relax and compose before the next section 2) use the applause to give me energy that may be lacking when having to perform so long without a response"
Jun 23, 2012, 7:35 PM

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CPM from New York City
"This is the question: Do "Classical" musicians want to expand their audience and foster a legacy of performing beautiful, enthralling and vital compositions, or do they want to cling to a dwindling audience of musicologists and aging fans, and remain, for the general public, curators of sacred concert hall museums?

I am an actor and a classical music addict. On stage I'm infuriated if someone coughs loudly during a delicate moment, but I'm incredibly invigorated when an audience applauds after a scene. This is never distracting. It is a focusing and channelling force for me, no matter what the nature of the subsequent scene. I've never met an actor yet that feels differently. A "movement" in a concerto, symphony, or chamber piece is, on an emotional level at least, the equivalent of a "scene" in theatre or opera. This is why the uninitiated at the concert hall are the ones who have an incredible impulse to applaud after a thrilling first movement. They feel and recognize the impact of the soaring ride they just took but they are immediately made to feel awkward and unschooled regarding a strange and stoic set of concert-going rules. Their very first urge to applaud great music is snuffed. Think about it from an audience development standpoint and take a cue from the brand new fans, the first-timers. It is at least counterproductive to discourage applause.

If Mozart attended a concert at Carnegie Hall today (and a brilliant performance at that), after the first movement he'd either get a kick out of the entire audience apparently playing a "silent treatment" joke on the musicians, or he'd wonder if the cocktails in the lobby were laced with a mind numbing narcotic."

Jun 22, 2012, 12:49 AM

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