September 01, 2000

"My name is Moby, and I have a dirty little secret to confess...
I like to go out to raves and dance until 7:00 a.m.!"

We enjoyed Moby's third (!) sold out San Francisco concert on Monday. The genius behind the amazing Play (more than one year among the top five bestsellers) is obviously in love with sound: making it, layering it, exploring it, bathing in it, reveling in it.

From our balcony seats, I watched the audience reactions as much as the performance. The main floor was so completely packed that the inclination to dance translated itself to a limited up-down bounce, like some large, gelatinous sea creature regularly rippling its surface area in a quest for movement. Dancing in the balcony area was easier, confined as we were in narrow rows and squeezed between overheating individuals on either side. The smart few made it into the aisles, dancing there in flagrant disregard for any fire marshal who might have been present.

I watched one individual sway gently to the rhythms, watched as he raised his hands, palms open, above his head. And suddenly, I was younger, transported to another musical gathering, to a space with better ventilation. I am at a sing-along with the youth group, I am at Christian Music Night at Great America, I am at Westmont Vespers. Rather than the technology which layers Moby's compositions, the music is simpler, carrying a roomful of voices in a repeated chorus. Eyes are closed, hands are raised, bodies gently sway, and one lone person in the back of the room has started to sing the harmony.

I haven't given "worship" much thought lately, especially since I stopped attending church and discovered I could appreciate the holy on my terms, outside rituals so formulaic they felt dead. But watching the raised hands of the audience at Moby's last show, I found myself wondering, were these people dancing or was this worship? If it was worship, what was being worshiped? Moby? Music? Dance? God? Being under 35 and technocentric? Flashing lights? Endorphins?

Is it a one time worship, sort of an instinctual, gut-level reaction to the situation here: the community, the rhythm, the flashing lights? Is it a worship that is manifest elsewhere? Does the worshiping Moby concert attender go to church on Sunday or to Friday night raves? Or both?

Or perhaps I read too much into casual observances. Perhaps what reminded me of worship was simply no more than an overflowing of warm, buzzy feelings brought on by good friends, a good music, and a great show.

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