Stand Clear of the Closing Doors: NYC Subway Culture

Happy Sunday everyone!  My New York people, are you out enjoying the weather? To quote the New York Times,   “unseasonably warm”– but I’m totally OK with it!

If you’ve even lived in or been to New York City and traveled by subway, I’m sure you will be able to relate to this post. Underground is a whole different culture, playing by it’s own set of rules, with it’s own set of problems and frustrations.

As someone who lives here and travels by train several times a day, I’ve seen a lot of strange and annoying things… and I’ve smelled even stranger. I thought a piece on “train culture” would be interesting and would give me a chance to share some of my top favorite train experiences.

Mostly, it’s all about the people. Sure, sometimes the MTA system screws you over and never tells you your train will be out of service or running local when it should be express. Or you get stuck in a tunnel without cell service- so you can’t tell your boss you are gonna be late for that important meeting… but some of that wouldn’t be so bad if you were just able to sit in piece and deal with it alone. Instead, you are surrounded by people, tons of strangers… all trying to get to someplace.

The weather, the time of day, the temperature outside and inside the car, all of these affect the commute and the people on the train. I’ve seen full out fights start because people won’t move into the center of a car and someone else can’t get in, so they push and shove and piss someone off.

It’s not always bad, thank goodness. When men stand and offer their seat to women, when someone holds the door cause they see you running to the train, those that you share a moment with when there is a crazy homeless person on a screaming rant and the train has stalled out in the tunnels. Remember that post a few weeks ago, “OH the 1 Train”? While I seriously disliked having to stand and have that guy hit on me the whole commute, the girl I ended up chatting with later and the other passengers who shared in a laugh at my facial expression was very fun.

Usually though, as soon as you descend down those stairs underground, the rules all change. We fight for seats, we push and shove to get into a crowded car, and we all deal with annoying things. Here are some of my favorite subway irritating moments… at least to date. Pictures and “definitions” are all mine… as are the titles themselves for that matter.

The Poll Hog:

Definition: Leaning a large portion of one’s body on the center polls that are meant to over a place for multiple people to hold onto when standing on a moving train and offer stability so one does not fall and the train lurches down the tunnels.

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I only understand this one when the train is nearly empty or you are the only one standing. But when you are one of many on a crowded train—DON’T LEAN!! Suddenly there is so many fewer options for everyone else to find a place to hold onto. I’ve been one of 10 people holding onto one poll before, but in the blink of an eye, one person can hog a whole spot and the rest of us might just be outta luck. I don’t know what makes some people feel so entitled as to do this!

The Leg Spreader/ The seat Hog

Definition: Taking up more then one seat per-person. For men, most often accomplished by sitting with legs spread. For women, most often accomplished by allowing ones purse to have a seat of it’s own.

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I’m sorry if it’s uncomfortable, or you really don’t fit in the seat, or you don’t want to keep your personal belongings in your personal space… but you don’t need 2 seats on the train. What? You don’t want someone sitting next to you… or you think you are better then everyone else and you need more space? Oh GET OVER YOURSELF!! It’s rude, it’s also unslightly. And then glare when someone brave enough comes over and squeezes in. In a city where everyone thinks they are entitled either because of who they are wearing, what they do, what they Don’t do, how old they are, and on and on… it’s almost expected, but totally annoying. And I know, it the spots were reverse and I were taking up 2 seats… well, it wouldn’t last long!

The Chicken Wing

Definition: Someone who holds onto the bars and totally forgets where their elbow is… or that they have one at all? Or that it MAY be in someone else’s face! So it reminds me of something like a chicken wing, just flappin’ around wherever.

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I experienced this one for the first time last week. It’s early on a Tuesday morning on a packed train, and I’m sitting in my seat (totally minding my own business) maybe falling asleep every few minutes… when I open my eyes and just a meer 4 inches away from my noise is some mans hairy elbow! Like it’s RIGHT THERE! And shift of my head, his body, or the train will send it smack right in my face! What got me was that the whole trip, he never seemed to notice how close his arm was to me or that I couldn’t move. This could have been remedied if he chose to pull his arm closer to himself, hold the bar a little higher, or angle himself another direction. As it was, I get this great picture and stayed awake the rest of the trip!

At Crotch Level

Definition: I think the name really says it all.

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These are the people who stand right in front of your seat (if you are sitting) and don’t bother to angle their bodies or hold on the to bar with one hand and turn sideways… NO, they stand square in front of you and we… if you are sitting your eyes usually fall right at crotch level. Then of course, as the train rocks and rolls down the tracks, they may swing closer or further from your face. Mostly it’s just awkward and uncomfortable. I understand, you have to stand, I’ve been there. It’s totally cool (but I’m glad to be sitting) just, like, I don’t want to be looking there for the next hour of my commute!

The Screamers… and all those Loud Talkers

Definition: People who treat the train car like their own personal living room. They talk, fight, laugh (cackle), scream, cry… or don’t stop their bratty children from screaming and crying… and don’t for one moment seem to care if it’s bothering every single other person stuck on the train with them.

I have had to look away or close my eyes and restrain myself from glaring at so many people, or worse- from saying anything. Especially mothers with screaming children who act like it’s totally fine that their child is crying at the top of it’s lungs and make no effort to silence them. This is about as bad as the adults who carry on for the whole world to hear. Don’t you care about your privacy at all? I mean, even if you don’t… just shut up! Or use your indoor voices! It’s not that hard and it makes the whole time on the train so much better for everyone.

These are some of my favorites… that are funny, worthy of a definition, and that I can get a pretty good picture of. The list of annoying, frustrating, and unique things on the trains also include, but is not limited too: the incredibly smelly, the drunk, the good the bad and the ugly musicians, the dancers (yes, like the kids who blast music and take up the whole isle to dance and usually hit someone in the face), the starers, and the napping (those lovely people who fall asleep and tip onto their neighboring passenger).

There is always something interesting

What have you encountered on a NYC train?  Anything fun that you’d like to share, please comment!  As always- follow, share, like, comment, etc!  and Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @NYChristiane

love always,  Christiane

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Sharing is Scary: Part 1 “Shaded Blue”

As some of you probably know and others may not, I’m a dancer.  I’ve been dancing sense age 4 and have built up quite an impressive resume over the years.  I love performing, being on stage, directing, choreographing, etc.  However, I’ve always had a hard time sharing my work while it’s in progress… or really sharing my work any other way but live.  I’ve decided that is something I want to work on- to overcome.  While I think dance, and most live performing arts are better live I know there is a huge outlet for it via video, online, etc.  I’ve decided, that to overcome this fear and to get my work seen by a few more eyes, I will work on releasing various performances, pieces, and clips of work here on the blog!

 I’m starting with a piece I did a few years ago that is truly one of my favorites and one that I would love to put on the stage again.  “Shaded Blue” was choreographed in 2012 at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA as an assignment for my Choreo. 2 class.  The semester before in Choreo. 1, I set a piece about my father and our struggle with his cancer and the aftermath of losing him.  That work, “Holding On/ Chasing Dreams” was an emotionally charged piece that above anything else was a way for me to express what I had been through.  After working on a piece so deep and personal, I wanted to create a piece that was just movement for the heck of it!  Phrases that felt really good in the dancers bodies and didn’t tell a deeper story.  Something that moved and was happy and beautiful, creative and flowing.  I actually wrote out all the choreography on an airplane.  I could just see the piece in my head, I didn’t need to feel it in my body, I already knew what was coming next.  This quartet is set to an original piece of music by Kyle Lacy, titled “Iceberg Shade of Blue”.  In a way, we collaborated on creating the perfect track for the final performance, editing sound levels, length, vocals, etc. It was exciting to create a new dance to a new piece of music, I was able to pull inspiration from the raw music and share the work of another artist.  The performers are all friends and fellow dance majors from Agnes.  Setting this work on them was fun and in many ways, easy, because we could all communicate and just play in the early stages of choreography to create some movement that was personal and individualized for each dancer.

And now I have to share!!   Click here, here, or HERE to see the Promo short for “Shaded Blue”.  This is a 1 minute clip that should spark your interest and make you want to see the whole dance…  Then you can click This, that, or the other for the full length video!!!   I hope you enjoy 🙂   (yes- everything in orange is a hyperlilnk to my youtube channel and the indicated performance video.  You have plenty of options on where to click…. and hopefully you will watch more then once!)

I was constantly inspired and loved working on this piece of choreography.  But I know it does not stand alone.  I have begun work on a new solo which is a sister piece to “Shaded Blue” and may be one of three in total!  Exciting things are happening and I plan to keep sharing, so keep an eye out for more “Sharing is Scary” entries that will contain snippets of new work and progress as well as (hopefully) thoughts and insight on my process.  

Please do continue to read, share, follow, like, and comment!

love always,  Christiane

And if you read this far, you get a bonus- here is a special release 15 second clip of the new solo http://instagram.com/p/sEIFF2m4EL/

Enjoy and know there is more to come!

Hey Girl, Hey: Cat Call Culture

So I wrote what has become this post a few weeks ago– more as a rant, on the train headed home one night. But after some things today, I decided to post it.

What prompted this you may ask? Well today I decided to dress up, as Wednesday is my Friday. I worn a dress that would be totally school appropriate- skirt to my knees, thick strapped, fully lined- and yet I got hollered at not once… Not twice… But 3 damn times!! (And not by the type I would appreciate it from). It upset me a bit- I didn’t dress this way to show off or impress anyone. I put on this outfit because it made me feel good and that makes me happy.

But instead I got to see and experience a side of our culture that pisses me off- why do men feel it’s OK to stare and call at women?

So, that brings me to the material I wrote a while ago and now feel I must post… It’s a comment on our culture, femininity, stereotypes, and boundaries.

” Rewind to late that morning. Picture me; hot, sweaty, and red in the face. Clad in sports bra, black tank-top, purple and black Lulu shorts, and running shoes. Clearly just released from an intense work out… Not making a conscious effort to show off or attract attention. And someone- some man- on the street corner decides it’s appropriate to whistle, holler, and stare at me as I make my way across the street to the train to go home– and make myself somewhat presentable for someone who actually matters… Someone I would spend the time to look decent or would care if they noticed.

Or how about this:: flashback to just a few hours ago (that night)– I’m happily settled on the idea of staying in my apartment, turning in early, and waking early for work… When the young, good looking, 23 year old lady in me decides it would be a little fun to go out and socialize- with friends and maybe a few drinks… (Isn’t that what people do on a Friday night? And make it look fun??) Not realizing it would turn into a late-night, “hit on the ladies at the bar” event. And me sitting in the train (thank goodness gracious the 1 train was running tonight), alone at 2:00 am.

Being an in shape, single woman (although the single part hardly matters) in New York City, I have come to realize what a male centered culture I’m living in. How much women, so often without even trying, come off as sexual, troublesome, and “asking for” attention.

OK, so yes I wore a dress- a non revealing dress- mind you. What makes you think it’s ok to holler at me on the street? Do you think I wore this for anyone other then myself? The answer is NO.

Or what makes you think it’s proper to stare at me at the gym. I know I have a 6-pack and triceps to kill for– but that’s for no one but myself. I work out for other reasons then to have strange men look at me– yet they seem to think it’s all for them.

How do you win? As a woman who is attractive, independent, focused and interested in different things then attention from strangers?? In a culture where “Cat Calling” on the street, staring on the train, and constantly being hit on is common place, what can you do?

Some ladies work it- seeking and soaking up attention by revealing ever so much cleavage, or wearing that very short skirt. They know how to steer the conversation at a bar in their favor and get drinks on someone else’s tab. Or have the spot light on them but no one touches. They have confidence on a different level… Or do they have less self confidence… So attention from strangers fixes that craving?
Me, I don’t need to hear everyday that I’m beautiful or strong or attractive (although it’s nice to hear from someone who matters to me and who’s opinion and eyes I value). I know I am and I have my own motivations (as jaded as they may be at times). In fact, I get infuriated when men think they can come up to me at a bar and out their arm around me. Buddy, you don’t know me and I’m not afraid to slug you one in the face… Maybe fracture your noise while I’m at it. What makes anyone think that’s OK to do? And why should any woman let that happen. You don’t NEED validation from a man- physically or emotionally- to be beautiful, strong, and amazing.

However, it seems we do- at times, in places- live in a culture where a woman is seen for her body and little else. And where so we go from there? Do we give in and fall into it? Into pleasing others- men- and settle for being beckoned like an animal or have comments made to us under a mans breath as they pass us on the street. I don’t think it’s something I’ll ever be able to do or really get used too. ”

Ok readers- what social comments or stories or experiences do you have to tell? What do you think is ok? Or not.

Comment, share, like, follow!

Love always, Christiane

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