For the winter holiday I gave my mother tickets to see the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Paramount. I got two, and kind of hoped that she would decide to take a friend from the ward or something. But she wanted Ted and I to go along, so we got a third ticket - then time flew and it was the day of the show, last night.
By my word, there is a hell of a lot of space in my brain devoted to stupid crap like LDS caste-markers, body language signifiers, and procedural details. I amused myself while waiting in line by picking out the younger women I thought might make it out, might sometime later make their escape. There is a lot of emphasis on dress in LDS culture - dressing modestly, dressing nicely - and I'm a trifle dismayed that I still know enough of the (unwritten) code to be able to pick out "mormon risque". (It's an important distinction, because there is a written dress code as well.)
The choir is well-trained, volunteer, and of excellent caliber - though not all of their repertoire shows their technical prowess to advantage. It was, as I was expecting, a bit like the Monty Python spam skit, only with G/god - you might prefer something with not so much god in it, but you would be essentially out of luck. I was moved to declare that when I am in charge, all religious songs must be sung in a language foreign to the local populace - I got much more enjoyment out of the hymns/pieces not in English.
There was one outbreak of spontaneous laughter that it was fairly clear the choir wasn't expecting. One of the songs they performed in their "Music of the World" section was a Nigerian carol called Betelehemu - a nice piece, and an interesting arrangement, though to my ear it sounded a little stiff and not quite to the choir's style. Which was highlighted after the song's introduction, when as they began the body of the song they all started doing the white-boy stomp. I laughed, modulated my outburst, and then realized that some 10% of the audience was just as amused as I was by a bunch of stiff-bodied white folks trying (in a embarrassingly sincere manner) to sway and clap along with the music, the way you often traditionally do to this sort of music.
But the problem is you have to have some fluidity of posture to manage it without looking a little absurd; you have to acknowledge that you have hips, for example. Not an easy thing to do - hips are in the Forbidden Zone, and fluidness of movement there runs a high risk of lewdness. Better to look a little stiff and remain chaste of behavior - though I doubt if you mentioned it to the choir you'd get it spelled out quite like that - they'd probably say they just weren't used to it.
The more classical pieces were my preference - when I say I miss hymns from church in my childhood, I'm talking about a particular musical structure and about casual regular social singing regardless of talent, not the lyrics. Dvorak and Rimsky-Korsakov's Glorias were nice. They also did the 2002 Winter Olympics theme song, composed by John Williams - that I quite liked, and will possibly seek out a recording. iTunes is your friend when you only want one song of something, more often than not.
Walking out I heard someone behind me referring to it as though it were a ward event - and for them it might well have been, there were several buses in from the peninsula and so forth. On the other hand, there was part of me that was expecting an opening and closing prayer. We got patriotic platitudes instead, mostly.
 the bits covered by garments[1a] - neck-to-knees essentially, although the kids usually push it toward sternum-to-midthigh. c.f. "mormon risque"
[1a] special adult sacred underwear - any more definitions you're going to have to go pester Google
I didn't hate it or have a completely miserable time, and my mom really enjoyed it, which was the point. Made for a longish night, though.
Now I've typed away my lunch break, so I'm off to forage for snacks to eat at my desk so I don't fall over.