I’ve played tag on Wall Street and taken part in a massive pillow fight at Washington Square Park, and today I headed to Bryant Park for another of New York’s bizarre free activities: Musical chairs on a very, very large scale.
A team of meticulous organizers had placed 20 circles of chairs with around 25 seats in each. Everyone played at the same time and the last man/woman standing in each circle went on to compete in the ‘Winner’s Circle’ for the glory (and a couple of plane tickets).
If you don’t know the rules: Each game has one chair fewer than the number of people taking part. Music starts and the players walk or dance around the chairs until it stops and have to scramble for a seat. The one person who’s too slow to nab a chair is out. Then another chair is removed and so on.
Ryan and I joined Group 9 and, while some of the other circles seemed to be having the times of their lives by shimmying to the warm-up music, ours was a little more tense.
After we got started, I was petrified that I was going to be kicked out in the first round becase I didn’t want to be the loser who got caught out first. But somehow, I survived. Then one by one – and eventually two by two – chairs were pulled away from the circle, leaving daunting gaps.
About five rounds in and I wasn’t quick enough to get my tusch to the chair. I spied a seat halfway around the circle and, while I knew it was unlikely, I took off. This is what happened:
Ryan lasted several more rounds than me. Actually, he very honestly ducked out when he realized he’d broken the rules by running through the circle rather than around it.
But we marveled at the tenacity of the other players – many of whom clearly had tactics or had been in preparation all year. I realized I’d concentrated too much on the music and chatting to my neighbor and not enough on the winning. If I were to do it again, I think the bum-near-to-seat-at-all-times tactic is probably the way to go.
As the rounds went on, there were flailing limbs, upturned chairs and a lot of pleading with the referees. I’m sure there’ll be a fair few bruises this morning.
It was a great spectacle to see – and really well organized – but Ryan and I concluded that we are far too polite to win at this game. We did enjoy the dancing though.