Ain't No Party Like A Train Party
When you’re late to work because there was a party on your train.
Nobody likes mass transit. I have friends who hate public transport so much that they’ll flat out refuse to catch buses or trains, and instead choose to pay exorbitant inner city carpark fees to avoid a literal five-minute train ride. Public transport is never not a collection of impatient, quietly seething individuals trying to distract themselves from the reality of being on a train full of stinking, catatonic strangers. Every single person on public transport is trying to get somewhere else; by definition nobody wants to be there.
For the most part though, we all realise that everyone else feels the same way and we all leave each other the f—k alone, abiding by the unspoken rules of public transport: don’t make eye contact with your fellow commuters (unless there’s a degenerate playing up on the train, in which case it's okay to exchange empathetic glances at the other non-degenerates on the train), don’t invade anyone else’s personal space or sit too close, keep your music on low because nobody else appreciates your excellent music taste, don’t stand near the doors, you don’t lean on the poles, don’t swing your bags around and RULE NUMBER ONE don’t talk to each other. On that last one - I’ve gotten off trains several stops before I’ve needed to, purely to escape one-sided conversations with creepy balding guys telling me about their marital problems. Whenever I’m on a train I always look around at the strangers in the carriage and imagine how shit it would be to be in an epic train crash like in the film Daylight, and getting trapped in a carriage with weird strangers, and having to keep the spirits up of a guy with his leg trapped under debris, while we wait to be rescued – talk to him and share my muesli bar with him to sustain him until help arrives. Uggghh.
Perth based ‘flashmob social artist’ Peter Sharp is the kind of guy who takes you directly to that highly awkward, muesli-bar-sharing place. But he’s not a creep, he’s actually a really nice guy who just wants to empower people to share love and kindness with each other. And as a side effect possibly become a global viral sensation. Both admirable aims. You may remember Peter such one-man movements as ‘Dance of Freedom Smashes Invisible Chains of Fear’ (where he danced in a fountain in the city in a suit) and ‘Blind Social Experiment’, where he stood in a blindfold with his arms open waiting for strangers to hug him.
The other day Peter broke all the public transport rules - he got all up in the face of people on Transperth; making a video on the Freo line that’s already gone viral, receiving over 225,000 hits on Youtube. “I don’t want money!” says Sharp to his fellow commuters, as he enters the train in a tux. “I just want to spread a little bit of happiness,” he says before pulling out a speaker, cranking up James Brown’s I Got You, and telling everyone he’s going to start a small dance party, and that they’re welcome to join in, or just sit and clap.
Everyone looks a bit miffed at the beginning, but by the end, the whole carriage is dancing and there is even a conga line. The absolute enthusiasm of everyone seems almost unbelievable; which might welcome some to write this off as a viral setup, wherein everyone on the train was a friend of Peter’s (“note how everyone on the train is roughly the same age” says one Youtube commenter), but there’s enough awkwardness in there for it to seem legit. Sharp later posted another video explaining the event was a way to help people transition from “fear-based public spaces to love-based public spaces”. Both love and fear were rampant in the discussion amongst the YouTube community under the video, where subjects covered included the viability of this happening on different cities’ public transport systems, and about the relative shit/not shitness of Perth.
“Nice change from the usual psychos and bogan racist rants. Good on ya mate.”
“Shows that you don't have to drink in Perth to have fun!” “Let's be honest. You actually do.”
“No way would that shit fly on the Armadale line…He’d have been punched and his radio stolen.”
“This makes me proud to live in Perth.”
“If you did this on the London Underground you'd get stabbed.”
“Peter mate, you are a fucking legend!”