“The monkey dance” is Rory Miller’s term for the steps young men (and some women) go through leading up to a fight. Think bar fight, or two guys in high school being egged on by others. There’s a pattern of action-reaction that can lead to a serious fight if those involved, or their associates, don’t back down or defuse things. It is about dominance and rank in the social group.
I got to watch the end-result of that very early one weekend morning in Krakow, Poland. As in, five forty-five AM early. Or late, depending on when the bars closed.
First, a slight digression. Until the late 1800s, Krakow still had all of its walls. Many sections were then torn down, replaced by a ring-park where possible. Other sections had been incorporated into buildings and so remain visible. The park designer incorporated information about the old gates and towers into the park, and it is a very nice way to study the pattern of the fortifications. Plus it is cool, shady, and quiet. Thus me going out at 0545. Sunrise was at 0445.
I started on my planned route and found a difficulty. Seven or so guys, all in their early 20s or late teens, involved in a monkey dance of sorts. I stopped well back from the action and watched, trying to decide if this was something I just needed to avoid or that I needed to get the heck away from at a high rate of speed. One guy seemed to be the main cause of the commotion, and several of the others kept trying to grab him as he flailed and kicked. A fourth dude had a large fast-food cup in one hand and kept trying to get close to the arm-waver-kicker. The others hung around on the fringes and yelled.
I opted to cut through a parking area and rejoin the path beyond the commotion. It looked mostly like a chicken fight sort of thing, with flailing and leg waving but no real intent to damage other people. Just as I regained the trail, I glanced back. Splash. The dude with the cup doused arm-waver with what looked like ice-water. Arm waver hollered and carried on as the others let go of him. End of confrontation. I went my way, and I’m pretty certain the guys never knew I was even there.
I have a very strong suspicion that alcohol had been involved at some point. Since the guy with the cup used ice water and not something more serious (milkshake [a political fight], hot coffee), I wager the point was to chill arm-waver and put him in his place, not to cause serious injury or humiliation.