Posts Tagged ‘crowd’

This week’s RoR is about public transport.

The sun is shining. Its warm rays haven’t reached my spot as I stand envious, watching the light slowly creep towards me six car lanes away. On my side, the shade gives me wind: cold and bitter. This is Nature’s other offspring, bringing temperatures below -5C.

It’s 8am on a Spring morning in Korea’s capital. As I wait for my bus to emerge around the corner the harsh wind whips my face to tears. Here there is no organisation only chaos. Around me are other eager travellers, all Korean; some standing, some sitting, some leaning, some hovering, all awaiting the next bus to take them into the heart of Seoul. I make my way to the curb ensuring that when my transport stops I will be first to enter.

As I see my bus approach adrenaline fills me and I feel my body tense.

Around me I sense movement as people make their way towards me. People emerge from the shops, apartments, cars and the street instantly comes to life, a crowd has suddenly materialised surrounding me. The bus is almost upon us and I can feel the tension within the group.

Spaces are limited and reserved only for the daring and brave. Like a pack of hyenas at the whiff of fresh meat, as the bus comes to a halt, carnage engulfs the pavement. There is no social etiquette or hierarchy as bodies collide and arms fly – everybody fighting for an exclusive place on the bus.

I push, shove and claw my way to the front. Today I am aggressive, I am the alpha and my reward is to be uncomfortably sandwiched between complete strangers. As we drive away I look back and see the disappointed faces of those left behind who bear the cold, waiting for their next battle.

© John Brownlie 2011

On a trip to Daegu last year I was fortunate enough to catch a street performance. The entertainers were all between the ages of five and ten years old. And each one of these youngsters was involved in either singing or dancing. I must have arrived shortly after their performance had begun as they had already attracted quite a crowd. About one hundred people surrounded a tiny stage in the middle of the high street, with the entertainment in full swing. The crowd was bouncing merrily to the music and I couldn’t resist bobbing my head accordingly as I strained to find a gap that would let me get a glimpse of the antics. Looking around, I saw that one man had anticipated this throng and had brought a step ladder with him in preparation. In a sense, he became part of the performance with his balancing act on the ladder. One hand clutched a small digital camcorder while the other steadied him from falling among the spectators. All he needed was an anorak.

Pushing my way closer to the front, I saw what was getting the crowd so excited. The children were wearing tight leather costumes that hugged their pre-pubescent bodies. The costumes ranged from mini-skirts to what can only be described as gimp costumes for the under-twelves. Amongst the children it was the unfortunate fat boy who caught my eye. He was either a last minute recruit or, more likely had not shed enough pounds for the ‘big’ day. He was now shuffling uncomfortably at the back of the stage wearing the same size outfit as his peers.

A group of boys and girls moved on to the stage clad in full dominatrix, thrusting, gyrating, spinning and splitting. Using moves that Britney Spears and the Pussy Cat Dolls would be proud of. I looked on in wonderment and disbelief at the exposed legs and midriffs visible to the audience.

Oblivious to this paedophile’s dream, the audience clapped their hands in time with the beat. Laughing and howling as one provocative action followed another. I found this level of naivety disturbing and it made me feel somewhat uneasy. Following the song; screaming, stomping and shouting started; conveying the unanimous euphoric feeling of the watchers.

The next act was the fat boy and his crew. He walked to the stage with the enthusiasm of a stone. The front of his belly, hanging over his tight leather trousers, rippled with each step he took. As the new performers stood in their starting positions, there was a moment of muttering in the crowd. You could almost interpret it as a collective whisper of a prayer for the overweight youth. A baby cried, perhaps sensing that in a few years time it would be its turn up there on the stage. The crowd, over-baited in anticipation, waited. Suddenly the sound erupted from the speakers and it began. Surprisingly, the fat boy could move, but not in time with the music and the other performers.

The audience gave the same vocal support as before. Whooping and hollering as more obscene moves were exhibited. I’m certainly no prude but I couldn’t help shaking my head in pity and despair at this display and turned to walk away. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of the man on the ladder. He seemed happy. Seemingly in his own world. Smiling as he looked through the lens, knowing that this spectacle could be replayed over and over again in the privacy of his own room. And who knows with what salacious thoughts attached to those captured images of innocent child performers.

© John Brownlie 2010