- Are we having fun yet? (Photo: YouTube/toothpickfactory)
The idea of entertainment on the Metro trains is an understandably controversial one. For some, dancing and singing on the trains is a way of bringing what they see as joy to the other riders. A group of teenagers calling themselves the Metro Party Boys said as much earlier in July about their series of July 4th Metro performances. And as I pointed out in a post earlier this week, they're hardly the first people to dance within the halls of WMATA — from pole-dancing to break-dancing, there's been many classic performances.
Others point to such dancing and singing as outright disturbance, a danger and distraction and not something that they, as paying customers, should have to tolerate on their daily rides.
The fun I can appreciate. Most riders likely enjoy a little dancing spirit as long it's relatively contained. But last night, teenagers on a Metro train dominated the entire train: shouting, stomping, clapping, banging against the walls of the vehicle. Check out the video that emerged from the night for yourself and see what you think:
Again, I'm sympathetic to a little liveliness on a commute home. It's nice to inspire a smile or two on people's exhausted faces after a long day of work. But what happens in this video pushes that line significantly. Unlike the Metro Party Boys' performances, the whole side of the car is overwhelmed in this video, and there's absolutely no sense of control over what's happening. There's fists banging against the Metro map on the side of the car, there's taunting out the windows at the platform, there's utter chaos throughout the train.
I can easily see how fun this would be for the teenagers involved. The YouTube user who posted the video is clearly a fan of the dancing and says it's a great contrast to the normally "stuffy" Metro rides. I was reminded of walking along the Met Branch trail the other week with John Ayala, the head Guardian Angel in the mid-Atlantic region, who spoke about the city being under siege by its young people and the way energy builds among kids on the Metro platforms and on the trains. Behavior can quickly become rowdy, and as Metro's general manager Richard Sarles said in a Q&A yesterday, it's best not to confront "unruly youths" directly.
Is this okay on a Metro train? The behavior itself seems fine in many contexts but not on a public Metro train. In what sense is the scene in the above video fair to paying WMATA customers?