I have seen HLAK perform several times and always wanted to be the Panda. I arrived at the venue a little early to talk with Dave from HLAK and find out what exactly was expected. I was greeted by a very friendly gentlemen working security. He looked at me and asked, "Have you ever been the Panda here before?"
"Uhhh no," I said.
"All right, there are a few things we need to cover. Once you get dressed you won’t be able to see anything, so I will help you up the stairs so you don’t fall getting on stage. Try to stay in one area so you don’t trip or knock anything over, and when you are done I will help you down," he explained.
This was the moment when I realized what I had gotten myself into. My job was to put on a costume that basically made me blind, dance on stage and find a way to take a show that was already super high energy and turn it up a notch. My dancing skills are not strong (or present at all) so the idea of getting on stage in front of a few hundred people and trying to dance blind was kind of terrifying.
Two songs into the set, I suited up and got ready to do my part. As I was helped onto the stage, one thing was very clear to me, I was going to fall down. I kept trying to remember how many steps there were to climb. Was it three or four? To my surprise it was four. As I climbed the steps my stomach dropped from the nerves, but then I could hear people start cheering. They love the panda!
I got to my spot and started to dance. I realized I knew the song and started singing along inside my giant panda head. Then I realized that nobody knew who I was and I really started getting into it.
After a couple of songs, I left the stage and then went back out to dance some more at the end of the set. When it was over I was sad to part ways with panda. That was the most fun I’d had in some time. This was easily one of the most liberating things I have ever done and I didn't want it to end. Oh yeah, and I didn't fall.
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