I used to work at an outdoor education center that provided team challenge initiatives, ropes course climbing sessions, and three meals a day to schools that would bring an entire sixth grade class for a week or so. After each meal, a lead facilitator would take his or her school group into the industrial dishroom to clean the dishes. Getting 10 sixth graders excited about dishes is some uphill stuff, so we played music, and framed the whole experience in what I consider the apotheosis of campiness: “This isn’t a boring chore; it’s a dance party!”
We called the dishroom and the act of doing the dishes “ARLOS.” Example: “Let’s all thank Anthony’s group this afternoon for doing our lunch ARLOS! Head on in and start dancing!” Why it’s named ARLOS is lost to hearsay and apocrypha.
Any facilitator at the peak of his talents has a custom ARLOS playlist for the dishroom–a mix of danceable, up-to-date pop that can be played loud enough to muffle students’ complaints when they realize that yeah, even with music, it’s still dish duty.
My playlists were perfect. It is easy enough to look at a top 40 list and cull from that, but is it worth it? Are you OK with hearing Ke$ha (popular at the time) sometimes thrice daily? Is that the soundscape you wish to circumnavigate? No, my playlists crescendoed during rinse cycles and dipped into pensive valleys during dry cycles.
I don’t work there anymore, because I was an idiot and thought that a 40-hour workweek desk job better reflected adulthood (it doesn’t), but I do wash a lot of dishes in my apartment, and I do listen to a lot of music, so I make annual best-of playlists and name them for my beloved dishroom, its Hobart industrial washer, its steel flatware, its bowls and serving utensils, each with their own soapy idiosyncrasies.
These are the songs I did the most dishes to in 2015. May your glasses be streak-free and your spoons stainless.
Here’s to another good year of music!