I attended Raleigh’s music festival, Hopscotch, earlier this month, and I highly recommend checking it out next year. This post is about my experience of culture shock while at Hopscotch. Due to my love of Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis, I usually enjoy watching crowds, in addition to observing the actual performance. The people in the crowd perform at events, too. I saw twenty-eight different performances over three days, and I noticed great diversity among the festival attenders. This makes sense, as there was a great deal of variety in both the performers and the venues.
The first performer I saw was Nathan Bowles in the Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. As you can tell from the picture in the link, it’s a formal venue. He played the banjo. On the other hand, I also saw a couple of rock bands play in Deep South The Bar, a music venue next to the Amphitheater. The ambiance in Deep South was perfect for the bands, but, as you’d expect, vastly different from the Opera Theater. When crowd watching outside, viewers wore a variety of outfits from casual to night-on-the-town clothes. I personally chose to wear jeans, a t-shirt, and purple Converse. As I attempted to find a theater on the back side of the Center for Performing Arts, I got trapped as an enormous group of people flowed out of the building. I felt like I was trapped in a movie with hundreds of brides and their parties. In reality, I was in the middle of Raleigh’s Debutante Ball. Trapped in the middle of this enormous crowd and feeling extremely out of place, a few hysterical giggles escaped my lips. I realized later that I had just experienced an example of culture shock in my own city. After I escaped the mass of people, I talked to a couple of Hopscotch attenders at the fringe of the crowd, who laughed about it with me.
I’ve been teaching my sociology students about culture shock this week. Although most people have experienced culture shock before, it’s worth noting that culture shock occurs when an individual experiences personal disorientation when exposed to unfamiliar cultural values or norms. Applying dramaturgical analysis, my performance was that of a concert attender. In my attire that *should* have been appropriate, I suddenly found myself on the wrong stage, and I didn’t know my role or my lines. Additionally, I felt deviant and confused. All in all, it really was one of the most amusing moments in my life and a great example of an experience of culture shock in your own country and city.