Ra Ra Riot had a competing act at their Sunday performance at the Bumbershoot music festival. Claire Sheehan, 11, now known as the “Spin Girl,” found herself the center of attention for over 15,000 in attendance when she rapidly spun in circles at the back of the dance floor.
Over the course of Ra Ra Riot’s performance, Sheehan danced with her arms out, facing the floor, and spinning like a helicopter.
Sheehan, who is just finishing her first week of middle school, explained, “Most of the people were just standing stiff. My sister, my friend, and I started spinning because I just thought that’s what should happen at concerts like these. When you’re on the floor, you shouldn’t just stand.”
Before long, the audience was cheering in periodic bursts that rivaled the cheers directed at the on-stage performance.
“I thought they were just cheering at some part of the song that they liked. When I realized they were cheering for me, it was a little embarrassing. I wanted to keep spinning, but I didn’t want them to think I was just doing it for the audience rather than because I enjoyed it,” Sheehan added.
As she gained attention, the cheers grew louder and her spinning was joined by the spinning of others around her almost virally, until a member of the event security asked her to stop. “That was embarrassing,” commented Sheehan.
The sideshow was far from over though. Throughout the rest of the performance, audience members would spin and be met with more cheers. When Ra Ra Riot finished their act and left the stage, the audience began chanting, “Spin girl! Spin girl!” in succession, demanding an unorthodox encore. All around, attendees were patting her on the back, taking her picture, and clapping for her.
“You don’t usually get the entire audience chanting for you. The next day, people recognized my big sister as ‘spin girl’s sister.’ It’s kind of weird!” she said.
Her celebrity status is confirmed on Twitter. Check out #spingirl to see what people think.
Though her antics seemed innocent enough, attention was clearly diverted from Ra Ra Riot, who played on showing no indication that they knew of the simultaneous second act.
“I think it probably took away from Ra Ra Riot a bit, because people were focusing on her, but me and my friends had never seen them before and everyone seemed to really enjoy their show, so I don’t think it hurt them too much,” said Todd, an audience member of the show who came to Bumbershoot from Michigan.
Any fault of that nature goes to the audience, and though they paid for Ra Ra Riot to entertain them, granting them full attention is a sign of respect.
“The main thing that kept going through my mind was that I hoped I wasn’t offending the band,” Sheehan said, pointing out that some posts on Twitter playfully named her the performance of the evening.
Spin Girl became a rebel hero when security put an end to her spinning. The reaction of the audience was audible over the concert, including increased cheers for the girl, and boos at the members of security.
As they spoke to the girl, fans on the floor spun behind security personnel’s backs, while nearly half the audience, in what seemed like an act of non-violent protest, stood up and spun in place.
“I think what got everyone was that it didn’t seem necessary. She wasn’t hurting anyone. It looked like ‘the man’ was trying to keep her down and everyone wanted to keep the spirit of Spin Girl alive,” said Todd.
The event was staffed by Staff Pro who claims that their action was done out of safety concerns, explaining that, “The young girl was observed engaging in conduct that caused a potential danger to herself and others. Staff Pro strives to make sure that events are properly managed so that every guest is able to enjoy them in a safe and comfortable environment.”
It’s hard to pinpoint what made her so popular that night. Peculiarly absent from the event program, it’s safe to say she wasn’t the reason people paid money and waited for hours in line to get into the Key Arena. Perhaps it was just adulation of a young girl expressing and entertaining herself in a very outwardly carefree way.
“She was doing what made her happy. Everyone has their thing, whether it’s nodding their heads or tapping their toes. Everyone wanted her to be happy, because everyone wants to be happy themselves, and we all see ourselves in Spin Girl,” Todd explained.
VIDEO OF THE SPINNING WAVE: http://instagram.com/p/dyJ9QxQQCv/#
Whatever the reason, it’s undeniable that the events livened up the show. Where audience members once sat or stood, they now danced and spun. Before Death Cab took the stage, several human waves made it all the way around the arena, with people adding a spin as they stood. “You kind of need a leader to get things started,” Sheehan said. When asked what he’d say to Spin Girl if he had a chance to talk to her, Todd said conclusively, “I’d tell her to keep on spinning.”