Mid-January I saw a Dave Brubeck tribute at Anvil centre in New Westminster. I learned two things that night, the first being that I don’t like jazz music, the second being that everyone has forgotten how to be a respectful audience member.
Whether you’re at a movie, play, dance show, or just watching some local artist light all of his belongings on fire outside of a Starbucks in some poetic revolt against capitalism, there are some guidelines you should follow. Let me remind you of a few.
1. Take your feet off the back of my chair.
I don’t ask for a lot in this world. But I do ask that you take your four-year-old smelly Converse off the back of my chair so they won’t pull my hair. I get that restless leg syndrome is real, and that it sucks, but if you know you’re the kind of person who presses their legs up against another’s chair and fidget, then go on a run or something before the show, buddy.
2. Turn your fucking phone off for a few hours.
If you’re at the high school production of Bye Bye Birdie, there is no way you are getting a call so urgent that interrupting the whole show is justified. I’m sorry, you’re not that important.
3. Hands to yourself guys, seriously.
While I was trying to enjoy that same Brubeck tribute I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t help but notice that the woman in front of me had her tongue all over, and in, her partner’s ear. I mean, if jazz gets you all hot and bothered, that’s your prerogative. But don’t make me witness to your weird fetish. Keep hands, and tongues for that matter, to yourselves. There is nothing weirder than being a forced spectator to what can only be described at world longest foreplay scenario.
4 .Avoid two hours of sniffling; just go get a Kleenex.
I get it, the hero has just appeared on screen, she is kicking ass, you don’t want to miss a thing, but you’re fighting your own battle. . . with your nose. You are sniffling, using your sleeve, trying to manage the situation without looking like a grotesque, sickly monster. But you are really not doing yourself, or anyone around you, any favours. Either excuse yourself and get something to remedy the situation or just bring some napkins or tissues into the theatre with you.
5. Be conscious of when you’re opening your candy bar.
That moment of deafening silence, where it’s unclear whether everyone’s favourite character is dead or not, isn’t the time to play with your noisy wrapper. Same goes for the kiss scene in The Notebook. Or when it’s revealed the murderer is in the house. Or when “My Heart Will Go On” starts playing in Titanic. Honestly, try to avoid noisy wrappers altogether, but if you seriously cannot live without that Twix, time it appropriately.
The takeaway here: you are not the only person trying to enjoy the moment. Don’t be that one person.