What, you ask, could the Meatstick Dance be? Some horridly sexual male affirmation ritual? Anti-feminist pro-misogynist dance?

No, not at all. It's the dance done to the song "Meatstick" (which does not have dirty lyrics) by Phish. The song is very laid-back and lazy, and a good number of Phish concert-goers are also very laid-back and lazy, so the dance is slow, easy and amusing. The song was first performed during a tour of Europe in 1997, but was not played often until Phish's tour in the summer of 1999.1 The first trace of the dance can be heard in the studio version of "Meatstick," during which Mike laughs and says "that could be the next cha-cha."1 The dance was shown to the public on July 4, 1999, when thirty or so crew members joined the band to show it to the audience.1 I have a recording of the September 18, 1999 show, when the band played the song and halfwaf through, Trey invited four people in the crowd who were already doing the dance up onto the stage to show that crowd how to do it too. It's been taught to crowds across America, mostly towards the end of 1999.

So how do you do the damn dance??

I'm getting to it. During the fall 1999 tour, some fans handed out a thousand fliers with a schematic of the dance's steps to be done with each lyric, which can be found at http://www.phish.net/faq/images/meatstick.gif. (I tried making an ASCII rendition of the steps, but it was ugly.)

Phish, being the weird guys they are, decided to try to break a record with this dance: Most People Doing a Dance Simultaneously. They have not suceeded yet (the current record is a whopping 74,000 doing the Chicken Dance in Akron, Ohio), but they did manage to get 60,000 people to dance along on July 16, 1999 at Oswego.1

The dance is just a few arm movements, squats and a clap, but I bet seeing 60 thousand people doing it is pretty neat. The song has been received with mixed reviews, some saying it harks back to the Good Old Days of Phish (like with the secret language and audience participation), but others say dancing like Richard Simmons during a slow funk groove is just too weird. The hype behind the attempt to break the record also turned off a lot of phans, but the band still likes playing it and dancing along.

So, to Meatstick Dance or not? It remains to be seen whether it will stick around.

1: Phish.net FAQ: http://www.phish.net/faq/meatstick.html

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