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Rick and I recently went to see, “Billy Elliot” on Broadway… that show about an 11-year-old boy who dreams of being a ballet dancer.

First of all, it’s incredible. Second of all, it will make you feel like a complete failure – because you’re watching this kid on stage who is so fabulously amazing that you realize you’ll never have 1/100th of his talent at anything. And what on earth HAVE you done with your life?! But other than that downward spiral of self loathing, the show is flawless.

And even better than the show was the guy sitting behind us. This guy was CRAZY ENTHUSIASTIC.

After every musical number, he would aggressively clap and yell out in a thick New York accent,

“Bravo! Bravo! That was a show stopper! What a show stopper. My God!! My God!! Did you see that?! What a show stopper!”

And then during the second act, he ENTHUSIASTICALLY chewed gum. Super loud. Cracking and popping and snapping away.

At first, I, along with a few others, just looked back at him to give the ole, “Seriously? Are you really chewing gum that loud? I didn’t even now it was possible to chew gum that loud. For gosh sakes, Billy is dancing up there!  Can you shut the hell up and give that boy some respect?” look.

But Mr. Bravo was not one to pick up on subtle clues.

I sort of shy away from stranger confrontations… especially in New York City. But I figured that some guy attending a musical about a boy ballerina is probably not going to spit at me or kick my arse.  It’s a judgment call.

So I turned around and said ever so politely, “Can you please stop chewing your gum?”

And he mumbled, “I’m sorry” and got rid of the gum.


Look at me.

I may not know how to pirouette properly or be a candidate for The Royal Ballet or be on Broadway but hot damn, I’m changing the world one loud-gum-chewing-theater-goer at a time. Hey, it’s something.

45 Responses to i want to dance like billy elliot

  • Abby Siegel says:

    Good for you! I hate obnoxious people like that, even if they don’t know how rude they really are. I’m dying to see that show. If it had been me I would have reached the breaking point and yelled “SHUT THE F UP ALREADY!!!” Maybe he didn’t take his ritalin before the show.

  • jessica says:

    I gotta say, good call.  I agree, any grown man that has come to see an 11 year old dance is likely harmless or predator and if he was the latter, you’re not what he’s looking for anyway.

  • kristen says:

    My man and girl went to see Billy Elliott last week in London and they both said it was incredible. Although my girl’s first words actually were about all the ‘potty’ talk that made up the dialog and then proceeded to tell me all the words she heard, heehee.

  • Chris says:

    I’m proud of you!  I would have passive aggressively thrown “the look” over my shoulder, sighed, shifted in my seat and remained miserable.  I still have some growing-up to do.  You’ve inspired me!

  • francine Kasen says:

    OK, I have zero tolerance for fellow movie goers who must talk during a movie. After years of giving “the looks” or even moving my seat, and after one incident where my husband told someone to “shut up” (don’t get me wrong….they totally deserved it) I knew I had to take the bull by the horns. Igive them 2 chances to ‘get’ the look or a shhh. After that, I say loudly enough for others around us to hear, “could you please stop talking”. I swear, it works! They are embarrassed and the other patrons lend strength to your boldness. I have even quieted several teenage boys with just that!  Of course, I looked over my shoulder the whole way out to our car….

  • francine Kasen says:

    I forgot to say, I saw Billy Elliot in London a few years ago while my daughter was ‘studying abroad’. It was awesome!!!!

  • Megan says:

    My husband and I were in NY in December and went to see La Boheme (our first time to the Opera).  Two couples came in late and sat next to us and proceeded to talk and talk and talk.  They didnt get the hint from my staring.  Finally my husband irritated, asked them if they had to pay for their tickets?! Because we did.  The man (who was sitting next to my husband) appologized and was so nice but his wife said, tell him (meaning my husband) to kiss my ass.  But we heard it. It was all pretty unbelievable.  Hopefully we all learned a lesson though – my husband later appologized that he was rude and they appologized to us too.  They were actually very nice but I just dont understand….how do you not know you’re being so abnoxious to others in a setting like this (The opera! or a show!)?

  • Julie says:

    What do you mean you shy away from New York confrontations. I am not surprised that you were the one to tell him to lose the gum. Girl, I have seen you in action many times with strangers and I would pick you to fight any battle of mine. It’s one of your best qualities.

  • Suzie says:

    I am very proud of you for saying something! Don’t you feel empowered? Maybe you don’t have the ability to dance on Broadway, but you do have the power to make a difference. And all of us theater goers salute you! 🙂

  • christy says:

    Wow – good for you! I thought you were leading up to \\\’and this guy\\\’ was the billy character\\\’s dad in real life. haha! I\\\’ve seen the movie and would love to see that on broadway – you are so lucky to live in NYC!

  • Cathy says:

    Way to go! That took nerve! I remember when I was a kid I went to The Nutcracker and my ballet teacher happened to be at the show. When the Sugar Plum Fairy did 20 piroettes in a row, she stood up and whistled and clapped like crazy–quite entertaining.

  • Madmad says:

    Oh, I know all about downward spirals of self-loathing – except that there was actually such a great name for it! (Because  I’m a stupid, no-talent idiot who will never amount to anything… 😉 ) But now I have to be doubly impressed by your ability to confront the gum guy?! I can’t even tell little kids to stop kicking my theater seat! You are the woman, woman!

  • Oz says:

    The ability to stop loud gum chewers in their tracks is, in my opinion, a gift that’s right up their with amazing ballet dancing.   I have a run-in with a loud chewer almost daily and could sure use you; kids dancing in Billy Elliot, while talented, wouldn’t be able to help much with that.

  • Mrs4444 says:

    We LOVE the movie, Billy Elliott!!  Such an uplifting film.  Now, as for the man behind you, I think he may very well have Aspergers Syndrome.  It sounds JUST like some of my students, who do not pick up on social cues and who are often very enthusiastic audience members (they have no awareness of social cues, especially when excited.) It also explains why he would have spit the gum out right away when asked; they don’t mean to be jerks 🙂

  • PAPA says:

    I”m with “Mayberry.”  Conflict avoider.  I would have turned around and said um……………. do you mind………..um, nevermind, sorry i turned around to talk to you.  enjoy the show.  with your gum.

    now, my wife on the other hand…. 🙂

  • ella says:

    Holy Moly—I sat next to that guy last Oct. when we saw In The Heights.
    The dude was ready to launch himself from the balcony after every song. I enjoyed his enthusiasm however as the show was a bit ho-hum.
    When it was over and we were all exiting, I leaned over and told his wife “The best part of this showfor me was seeing how much your husband enjoyed it”. Laughs all around.

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    I’ve given up going to movie theaters because of the obnoxious behavior of  at least one person sitting near me who has to TALK, RATTLE CANDY PAPER or do something to distract me from the enjoyment of the movie.  I am the one who then stands up, shouts loudly at them to SHUT UP (after asking nicely first) and then the ‘fight is on’.  They usually have told me, ‘change your seat’  (something you can’t do in a Broadway Show)…and I go NUTS.  Thank heaven for movie rentals…

  • Lanie says:

    Glad that you got to go out to the theater and that you were able to get the guy to stop chewing his gum so loudly.  Great post!  🙂

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kelcey kintner