Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name.
Do you remember that show, Cheers? I used to stay up just long enough to be exhausted for my first period class, simply to see if Sam and Diane were any closer to becoming a couple. What was it about that show that intrigued so many viewers?
I had never been inside of a bar before, and with the little knowledge that I did have, I was aware enough to know that typical bars were not set up this way. Even with this lack of relation, the cast seemed to make me feel welcome.
Although, I didn't understand a lot of their problems, I felt like it was not at all odd for me to be present while they stumbled to find solutions. There was a certain comfort that came with this show. I would assume that was apart of the planning. "Where everybody knows your name." Clever.
The details that create the Cheers experience
I have been old enough to venture in and out of bars for some time now. Let me be the first to say, I've never had a Cheers experience. I probably never will. Beyond the fact that my schedule does not permit me to waste away hours of daytime, drinking beer and creating illogical theories, I have never found a bar that supplies this experience. Instead, I found a pizzeria. There is a small restaurant literally 2 minutes away from my apartment complex. They call themselves Little Azio Pizza & Pasta. If you do some research you will find out that this is a chain restaurant. So, what's so significant about the pizzeria near my apartment? In order to explain this I decided to write here today. I packed my essentials in a leather tote and set up here. I ordered a 12" cheese pizza and a glass of cabernet. I took my sweater off, sipped my wine and stared out of the window. I slowly directed my attention to the pair dining 4 tables in front of me. It seemed to be a man and his son. From their expression, this is a place that they've been before as well.
I then glanced at the man who appeared to be tucked into a booth parallel to them. I watched as he revealed himself to the walkway and exited this little pizzeria, toothpick in hand. As he leaves another man enters. He is now seated diagonal from me, in the furthest booth of the restaurant. We are the only occupants of this facility. Well, us and the kitchen staff who so effortlessly creates an atmosphere that if I were to scream my deepest secrets, even the walls wouldn't hear.
You see, I prefer not to write around people. I have always believed that energy is easily shared even if you do not verbally or physically encounter that person. Yet, even in this calm chaos I feel comfortable enough to express myself. How do they do it? How is it that Sir, who works the counter, can make me feel welcomed with every visit. Each time asking me about my day and then all of a sudden journeying with me down a mind path of inventions and new business ideas. We laugh and he tells me to enjoy my food. I never learned his name, he never learned mine, and I'm ok with that.
Maybe, it's the playlist that seems to satify my obscure musical preference.
It could be the location, as we are set up on a hill parallel to a busy street. Could my mind find peace in seeing cars passing by, but beneath me?
I've even considered the pure nostalgia I could be feeling from my own days serving at a small pizzeria in my hometown.
I've come to the conclusion that it is all of this.
"I have always believed that energy is easily shared even if you do not verbally or physically encounter that person."
Performance Tip: Connect with your audience through intent
Let me explain. I had the pleasure of opening up for two amazing musicians this passed weekend. It was a combined show between my brother, Daniel D., and an amazing guitarist named Terence Young. I remember noticing Terence changed his shirt off stage, in the middle of the show. I laughed as I approached him and questioned if he always did a wardrobe change. He simply told me "Of course, it's all a part of the experience. You have to give people an experience." I smiled. He's on to something. A lot of musicians do not think this intently about their performance. I never did.
Of course, I made sure that what I was wearing was pleasing to me, but I never thought about something as simple as changing my shirt during an intermission. Not that the new shirt was pleasing to a separate part of the crowd, but the effort shown could be just enough to make the right amount of people feel welcomed, wanted and comfortable.
Thinking this deeply about a shirt change caused me to realize that it was a combination of the many. It was the smile he shared with the audience, the words, the participation, the eye contact and the pure energy of making his performance not seem like a performance, but instead just something he wanted to invite you to. It was everything.
I've chosen to apply this to my everyday life. I encourage you to as well. Next time you are asked to attend an event, whether it be for performance or audience, go the extra inch. No matter how small the effort may be, make your presence an experience. I believe that's what keeps people coming back for more.
Do you have a favorite place like the pizzeria I go to or remember a time that a musician or artist did during a show that made their performance and experience that much more memorable? Leave a comment below.