There is something strange about the air in Manhattan. At least, that’s what I tell myself each day when I encounter the odd dancers. For the most part, they are tourists who appear during rush hour (8-10) when people are trying to get in their offices. They are sauntering up and down the sidewalks, generally stopping at strategic locations bracketed by pay phones or newspaper vending machines on one side and the ubiquitous trash can on the other. They create a dam to bring the flood of Manhatanite speed walkers almost to a halt as they stand in place and slowly perform pirouettes, their eyes heavenward, a slow motion version of the whirling dervish. Oblivious to the gaggle of obviously annoyed business clad pedestrians, they start to gather up in these odd spinning clusters. I have seen as many six of these individuals suffering from this strange malady in a group. Usually they come out of it on their own, but sometimes it takes a rather assertive local to get their attention to bring them out of their trance.
I have talked to many of my friends about this phenomenon. We can’t completely agree to what the cause is. I have proffered up the idea that maybe they are disoriented due to the very tall buildings as they are from a rather flat place. I’ve been told that this doesn’t really work, because they have seen people from Toronto or Chicago where the buildings are just as high. One of my friends said that its caused by the rush of people going back and forth, the dancers become mesmerized by the motion and disassociate from their consciousness. His justification for this has to do with the lack of these dancers at times when the sidewalks are not crowded with people.
I’ve been waiting to read a study in the New York Times where some starving professor gets a grant to study these oddities. So far, I have never seen this article, so if you have some pull, give that starving professor a call.