Glee Culture

Each summer, my partner and I take an annual canoe trip in Algonquin Park. We spend all year living in the city, and we covet the time we get to spend in silence—away from the bustle and pace of city culture. Part of what many of my friends call the “hard-core” nature of these trips are the frequent (and long) portages we make to ensure total isolation.

Last summer, mid-trip, we spent an entire day without seeing another soul. As the sun began to set, we choose a site on an isolated channel between two large bodies of water. As we propped our canoe up on the shore, our silence was interrupted by the sounds of small prepubescent voices belting “Don’t Stop Believing” somewhere on the channel. I immediately smiled, looked over at my disgruntled partner as we both peered across the water. There, almost directly in front of us on the other side of the lake was a campsite full of swimsuit clad eight-year old boys singing at the tops of their lungs while taking turns jumping into the lake. I looked at my partner,

“Ah, Glee Culture,” I said.
“Whaddya mean?”
“Well, there is no other way that those boys would know the 1981 Steve Perry song if it weren’t for the fact that it was featured in Glee.”
“Well yeah, but I knew all the Beatles music when I was eight.”
“Sure, but that’s because your parents listened to it and it was still lingering from a generation above you- Don’t Stop Believing has been reintroduced to this generation, the difference is that to them, the song is an entirely new song. Re-branded. They don’t even have a clue that it had life before Glee.”
“I guess.”

As my partner lost interest in the boys and my little Glee lecture and left to begin fire preparation, I couldn’t help but stand there an extra moment to smile at the uninhibited voice-cracking singing. Even here, in the great Canadian outdoors, miles away from the city, Glee is present. Glee, for all its camp and cliché is truly noteworthy to its fans. The show is not only about being an oddball in a Midwestern high school (or an oddball in general), but also about letting your love of music rise above your passion for anything else. As the adorable Glee Club instructor Mr. Schue said, “Glee is about being yourself, even when the whole world wishes you were someone different.” It’s about using music to express yourself and as a way to feel great.

Back in the city, I am lucky to work for Acting Up Stage, a company, like Glee, that believes in the power of music and using music to tell stories. I’ll never forget that camping trip. The solace, the trees, my partner, and eight-year old boys belting “Don’t Stop Believing” into the Algonquin wind, feeling great.