How a drunken Teletubby changed my appreciation for music, or why I am going to see The Flaming Lips at Marymoor Park tonight

Flaming Lips with Travis as a Teletubby at Sasquatch 2008
photo by Sean Pecknold

When was the last time you saw a drunk Teletubby? For me it was Memorial Day weekend of 2008 and the Teletubby in question was dancing right next to me. That was before the stumbling and stammering intoxicated Teletubby did a 10-foot faceplant while attempting the Running Man. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me back up and do some scene setting.

It was the final night of the Sasquatch! Music Festival and I was one of 24 lucky people chosen to dress up as a Teletubby and dance on stage during The Flaming Lips’ set. Dancing while costumed as Dispy (he’s the neon green Teletubby in case you’re curious) was one of the most amazing and exhilarating experiences of my life.

For those unfamiliar, the live Flaming Lips experience includes confetti cannons, fake blood, puppets, balloons the size of Volkswagen bugs, lasers and of course costumed dancers, which is where I come into play. So how does a Teletubby dance? Not gracefully. I was kicking my legs, flailing my arms and jumping up and down like a toddler who spent the morning doing shoots of Red Bull with Mountain Dew chasers.

I thought I had experienced music in just about every way possible. After my time in a Dipsy suit I realized I wrong. However, it wasn’t jumping around acting a fool in front of thousands that changed my perspective on music. The impromptu community formed around the music is what made my time as a Teletubby such a transcendent moment for me.

During breaks between songs the members in my Teletubby troupe hugged and handed out jumping high fives. We linked arms and swayed from side to side, did the can-can and lifted each other off of our feet at times during massive group hugs. Oh, and when that aforementioned Teletubby who had one too many and landed face first in the photo pit we all laughed and then helped him back onto the stage so he could continue dancing. We were a no Teletubby left behind sort of community.

We were all sharing such a unique, positive experience it felt as if we were somehow deeply connected to each other even though we had all just met less than an hour prior. I had never felt such a connection with complete strangers and it was the music of the Lips that brought us together.

When I wasn’t concentrating on dancing I made sure to spend as much time as possible between smoke machine blasts to take in the moment. Everyone in the sea of humanity that was the crowd of 22,000 at the Gorge Amphitheatre was dancing, singing and appeared to be in a state of pure ecstasy. I will forever remember the massive Cheshire grins I saw when I glanced into the eyes of the audience.

So when the Lips perform at Marymoor Park Friday I won’t be on stage dressed as a frog or kitten (those were the costumes used for dancers during the band’s Pitchfork Music Festival headlining set last month). I will be in the crowd covered in confetti wearing one of those Cheshire grins. If I’m lucky maybe I’ll be able touch Wayne Coyne’s giant human hamster bubble while my inner Teletubby dances his ass off, after a few shots of Red bull of course.

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