Waggle Dance

“Go to hell and back just to heal my wounds
‘Cause it gets like that, wrong side of the moon
No tomb can’t moon, you’re my Cleopatra
No side ting, don’t need a backup
Need a real one, don’t need an actor
And last one today, think you won a BAFTA
Come and be my girl, yeah”

  • Bakar ‘Hell n Back’

The waggle dance that bees use to signal to other bees where there is a new source of food was first deciphered by Karl von Firsch in 1927. Most of his fellow scientists were very sceptical, but over the years he won them over with more research and in 1973 he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Recently I’ve watched a number of talks given by a brilliant marketeer and he uses the point that 20% of bees ignore this waggle dance and literally buzz off in any direction doing their own thing. These bees, he suggests, are crucial to the hives survival, as , if the bees all simply followed each other to the closest largest food source, any natural or human event, a storm, mowing a meadow, would leave them starving, but the weirdo bees would then come to the rescue saying, “Oh there’s another big field of daffodils the other side of that hedge two fields away that I spotted on my way back from a sip of cider in Hughie’s” and there would be loud cheers and much rejoicing.

The marketeer’s point ultimately being that it’s the weirdo’s who discover new things because most other people aren’t looking for them.

I headed to Electric Picnic last week with my Soulmate, a camper van, all of my coolest tee shirts, and a vague notion of who I’d like to see.

We headed off on Thursday morning to avoid all of the traffic and spent ages stuck in traffic with all the other very clever people that headed off early to avoid the traffic, but eventually got settled and then went into the arena in search of Benny’s Brutopolis and Survivor areas where our Robyn and her intrepid friends, Dundalk John, Aoife, and Sin had been working all week, helping to set up.

We eventually found them in the woods at the back, just past the Salty Dog, covered in paint, tired, but all grinning from ear to ear. Benny gave us a tour of Brutopolis, which was really cool , a sort of dystopia that Newstalk would have us believe we will be living in when Sinn Fein win the next election. And then we headed to Survivor for a beer. This area consisted of an airplane stuck in a tree, a stage made of abandoned suitcases, a bar made from the wings of another airplane, and great music. Robyn and the gang joined us, so we had another few beers, and then Benny and Michelle arrived and it would have been rude to leave without having another beer.

Benny introduced me to Chas , the guy who runs the Salty Dog satge and he asked me how I knew Benny, “I met him years ago, he was growling at the side of a road and I removed a thorn from his paw, and he’s been around ever since.”

“WHAT ???” Chas roared over the music.

“MONAGHAN !” I roared back, and Chas smiled and nodded.

I have indeed known Benny for years, I consider him a great friend, and I have to say that I was immeasurably proud of him last weekend.

It was a great weekend already , and it was only Thursday !

On Friday morning I did a six mile run, in a figure of eight pattern through the grounds and campsites of the Picnic without seeing it all. It’s vast !

We had a loose, mutually agreed itinerary for the day , I wanted to see Bakar, Wet Leg, Powpig and finally to see Billie Eilish with Robyn, and my Soulmate wanted to finish her book. My plan was interrupted by my best friend Micky messaging me to say that his nephew Jack was playing with Ocadun in the An Puball Gaelige tent at 8pm. Seriously Micky ? Me in a trad tent ? While Wet Leg are playing ???  I knew I’d have to be polite and go, take a photo, but reckoned if I did that, waved at Jack, and then ran, I could still catch most of Wet Leg’s set.

I arrived and duly took a photo and waited to catch Jack’s eye so I could leave. And then while I was waiting I noticed that I was tapping my foot…to trad music ?!? The tent was full, and I spotted neighbours of ours Sean and Margo who came over for a quick chat before they rushed off to something else. Jack nodded in my direction, and I turned to leave, and then sat down in a seat, and smiled and tapped away for the next few songs. I ended up staying for their whole set, and loved it. I went up and said hello to Jack and got a selfie with him to send to Micky, and then let him back to his trad groupies…yes, it’s a thing… I know…me too.

I rushed into the woods to catch Powpig and thought as I did, “I’ve gone from Bakar, to Ocadun, and on my way to Powpig…I’m a weirdo bee !” And I was chuffed with myself.

Powpig were great ! I got to watch them sitting in a boat at the Salty Dog stage.

Billie Eilish was incredible, no matter what Colleen McMahon says, and Robyn and I roared our heads off to ‘When The Party’s Over’ and ‘Bad Guy’ and ‘Ocean eyes’. I went home to bed very happy.

On Saturday I had no real plan other than to see Tom Odell and Unknown Mortal Orchestra in the evening, so I went for a 12 mile run out into the countryside around Stradbally and then my figure of eight loop again in the Picnic. It took me a while and when I got back to our campervan my SoulMate told me to hurry up and get ready that we were going to a breathwork session in Mindfield with Shauna at 4pm.

“Shauna our next door neighbour ?”


“Chrissy’s Shauna ?”


“Molly’s Shauna ?”

Yes !

“Shauna who you go to Womens Circle at home on a Wednesday ?”

Yes !

“Chrissy and Molly’s Shauna that lives next door, who you saw at home on Wednesday for breathwork and meditation?”

Yes !

I was going to ask ‘Why ?’ and then I thought of all of the Fontaines DC, Lizzo, Elbow, and Neil Young gigs she’d come along with me for, and also considered that maybe this was something a weirdo bee would do , and got ready.

We ended up running through the arena to Mindfield to make it on time and I was laying on my back on a straw mat under a large tent in a field in Stradbally being led in a breath work session by Chrissy and Molly’s Shauna that lives next door. The tent was open on three sides and we were surrounded by campsites, several stages, food vendors, and 70,000 fellow picnickers and yet as she guided us/me through the session I heard nothing only my own breathing. She had said at the start that some people may become emotional during the session and I may have actually snorted at that point, but now hear I was walking over a bridge into a field and meeting a younger version of myself, and as I exhaled I heard someone sob, and I realised that it was me. There is a photo of me when I was 3 or 4 at the back of Granny’s house in Fr.Murray Park in Dundalk, wearing a brown jumper that Mam had knitted for me, grey short trousers, and brown leather, golden buckled sandals that Dad had made for me in Clarks. That was the wee me I met in Stradbally. I cried with happiness and maybe a little loss…I loved that brown jumper.

When the session was over my Soulmate held my hand and I thanked her for bringing me here, but I really was thanking her for absolutely everything.

We went up to say thanks to Chrissy and Molly’s Shauna that lives next door, and I said “Imagine , I came all the way to a gig in Stradbally for the girl next door to make me cry!”

I was now an emotionally attuned weirdo bee.

“Let’s go to Cian Ducrot.” my Soulmate suggested, steering me away from Hamsandwich.

I was such an emotionally attuned weirdo bee at this point that I said yes , and I have to admit that he was a thoroughly nice chap, and I didn’t not like it. And we caught the end of Hamsandwich.

We headed off then to Survivor to meet Robyn’s gang and the band there were playing all of the Pogue’s songs. Heaven. We had a few beers and then we all headed to the main arena to see Tom Odell.

He was EPIC !

Gurriers, another Micky recommendation, were good, and I loved Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

I contented myself the following morning that it hadn’t been a bad weekend for an emotionally attuned weirdo bee.

And then during the week while looking for something else, I randomly came across an article in New Scientist on new research into the waggle dance which suggested that 95% of bees ignore the waggle dance of other bees and do their own thing, which at times seems to be what a lot of them are doing.

I thought about all of the different stages and areas around Electric Picnic and all of the people going to different combinations of gigs and events, and probably no two people had exactly the same day each day.

Maybe we’re all weirdo bees dancing our own waggle dance.

I like that.



 P.S. My Soulmate’s Dip In The Nip for cancer support is this weekend ! She and her deranged band of dippers are bowled over with your generous support. You can still donate here

Author: paul

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