Sunday, 12 May 2013

The unique feeling of being part of the crowd

As I walked along yesterday afternoon, others sidling next to me scarved in their chosen colours of war, all heading on a pilgrimage towards our Mecca for that afternoon, Villa Park, I felt a unique oneness with these strangers next to me.
We all had the same intention, all, for the next 2 hours at least, preparing to experience and witness the same event: a football match.

Lowry's 'Going to the Match'
As part of the crowd there's something incredibly powerful about feeling the rise and fall of this shared mood, hearing the complementary, melodic, unintelligible chants that seem to appear in waves from deep within, yet also seemingly nowhere. There is a sense of the tribal; the primitive within us all escaping. These are cheers for survival.

At moments like this, I can fully appreciate why the Romans sought such crowd pleasing entertainment in the gladiatorial ring. Our stadiums are modern day Colosseums, alive with shared passions and the feeling of thousands all living through the thrills of others. The blood-thirstiness so favoured by those Roman guys and gals was, perhaps, a little extreme, and I can never condone what Russell Crowe had to go through in those leather sandals, but today's world of sending offs, controversial tackles, pantomime boos and hisses reveal that things really haven't changed a great deal over the last 2000 years or so. Filming Lord of the Rings, Peter Jackson used the sound of the England cricket team's 'barmy army' of supporters as the sound of the terribly Orcs. The animal-like essence of the crowd it seems is just as prevalent in what may seem like 'more sedate' spectacles.

Sometimes it feels like our current society is increasingly lonely. With friends and family scattered all over the place, and a tendency to often live more nuclear lives, it is easy to lose sight of any sort of shared experience or community. The chance to feel part of a crowd whether it be at a sporting event, a music concert, the theatre, a royal pageantry, you name it, is such a unique experience. We are returned to our early roots, and with that, what feels most natural.