Crowded places
How do you feel when you are in crowded places? When was the last time you were in a crowded place? What places do you think are often crowded? How often do you go to crowded places? Do you like crowded places?
  • To shove (verb) - to push someone or something forcefully.
  • Elbow room (noun) - space to move around in.
  • Rammed (adj.) - very full or crowded.
  • Claustrophobia (noun) - fear of being in closed spaces.
  • To cram (verb) - to force a lot of people or things into a small space.
  • Wiggle room (noun) - the freedom or opportunity to do something, or to change your mind and do something differently if that is what is needed.
  • Jam-packed (adj.) - full of people or things that are pushed closely together.
  • To unwind (verb) - to relax and allow your mind to be free from worry after a period of work or some other activity that has made you worried.
  • To spread out (phrasal verb) - to cover a larger area.
  • To rub along (phrasal verb) - if two people rub along, they work or live together in a satisfactory way.
  • Packed/squashed like sardines (idiom) - if people are packed or squashed like sardines, they are positioned very close together so that they cannot move.
  • Antsy (adj.) - very nervous, worried, or unpleasantly excited.
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Questions and Answers
M: How do you feel when you are in crowded places?

R: Well, assuming things are calm and people are pushing and shoving to get in and I've got elbow room, then it's not so bad. But if there are lots of people rammed into one space, then I can't stand it and I'd like to leave as soon as possible. I wouldn't say I have claustrophobia exactly. But it's just not something that I'm a big fan of.

M: When was the last time you were in a crowded place?

R: Oh, wow, I'd really have to think about that. It must have been the last time that I flew out of Paris, and everybody was kind of crammed into this boarding gate area, and there wasn't much wiggle room, to be honest with you. So that wasn't a very pleasant experience. However, that'll teach me for flying Ryanair.

M: What places do you think are often crowded?

R: Oh, you mean, aside from boarding gates? I suppose popular markets, like the ones in Istanbul, are pretty jam-packed, to be honest. And then in large cities, lots of pubs and clubs, especially as the weekend approaches, because I suppose everybody just wants to unwind and relax at that point, don't they?

M: How often do you go to crowded places?

R: Well, rarely, I'd say. They're only about 5 million people in my country. And I mean, outside of the major cities we're pretty spread out over a wide area. So there, there aren't many opportunities to go to crowded places. I think the only exception is when I go to, big events, like parties or nights out. But that's hardly ever.

M: Do you like crowded places?

R: Well, like I said before, it really depends on the context and the atmosphere, to be honest with you. I mean, if everyone's relaxed and chilled out, then I'm quite happy to rub along with all the people around me. However, if we're packed in there like sardines, and people are starting to get antsy and behaving in a way that's like that, then I'm not going to be terribly thrilled to be there. So like I say, it depends.
M: Hey, crowded places! So a crowded place is a place full of people. We say a crowd of people, right? And about our feelings, how do you feel in a crowded place? Well...

R: You can feel claustrophobic, but not everybody does. And claustrophobia is like a really specific fear.

M: You can say I feel claustrophobic, right? Or like, I have claustrophobia. Right? So you're afraid of like... Too many people! And if I'm rammed into a crowded space, yeah? I'm rammed into a space?

R: Yeah. So it's just like, well, if everyone is rammed in together, then it's all tightly packed, and you've been almost pushed in by the people who are in charge. So that makes it a bit difficult.

M: So you can say I feel nervous when I'm rammed into a crowded space. Crowded or cramped, okay? Cramped space or a cramped room. Like not having enough space. Okay? So it's not about a crowd. But like a small space with no room. Like not enough space to move. For example, a cramped room or a cramped house. Okay? And also, Rory, you said, like, elbow room.

R: Yes.

M: Like, you know, our elbows. Yeah, parts of our arms, elbows. So there is no elbow room?

R: Yeah. It occurred to me, mostly because I've been teaching idioms recently. And so this one was just sticking in my head. I wanted to mention to have elbow room or to have no elbow room. And that just means not enough room to move. So if you imagine people around you, you cannot even move your elbows like this.

M: So you can say I feel really anxious or nervous if there is no elbow room. In a crowded place people usually push and what else do they do?

R: Is that a collocation?

M: I think so. Yeah, it's a fixed phrase.

R: Pushing and shoving in a cramped space.

M: So people are pushing and shoving. They're pushing you. Right? And they are shoving you. Is shoving the same as pushing?

R: I feel like shoving is a much more deliberate and violent act that happens.
M: Yeah, but this is what happens when you are surrounded by people, they push you around. Yeah? So we feel anxious and nervous. Here you can use the past continuous. When I was boarding my last flight. Or when I was dancing somewhere in a club, right? Or when I was having a drink in a bar. Right? It was pretty crowded. And Rory, you said, like, everyone was crammed into this boarding gate, or everyone was crammed into a club. Can I say that?

R: Yeah, if you're crammed in, then there's not much space to move. I'm running out of ways to describe crowded places, to be honest with you.

M: So for example, imagine a car, a car. And like eight children were crammed into the back of the car. Okay? The car is quite small and kind of like eight kids were crammed. Yeah? Into. What else can I say? Can I say like, I was crammed against the door? For example.

R: I don't know if you could say I was crammed against the door because usually crammed into is the collocation. So you might say I was crushed into the door or I was... What was the word against? Crushed against the door. Yeah, crushed against the door, crushed against the wall.

M: So there were so many people, I was crushed against the door.

R: Yeah. Well, I mean, not why not? But why would you be in that situation?

M: Or, for example, you can say that the room was full, or the room was packed, like packed with people. The room was crowded, and packed. And I was cramped into the room?

R: Crammed into the room. Yeah, crammed in with other people.

M: Like when everyone is going in, and I was cramped into the club, or I was cramped into the bar, right? Like everybody, like was entering the bar and I was like... Together with the crowd, yeah? Cramming into the boarding gate or into a bar, into, I don't know, a concert hall. Another phrase is a lot of wiggle room. Or not a lot of wiggle room. Wiggle-wiggle.

R: I'm not going to wiggle... I am going to wiggle on camera but wiggling would be like moving around like that, like a, like a, like a worm. And you cannot, you cannot wiggle or I could not wiggle in the boarding gate area because there were so many people.

M: So like to have a wiggle room? No, just to have wiggle room? No article, right?

R: I think it's just wiggle room. Get some wiggle room. Or if it's in a specific place, then the wiggle room was... No, not even then you wouldn't use it. So it's just wiggle room or some wiggle room.

M: So kind of like freedom to move around. Right? So in a crowded place, there is no wiggle room. There is no elbow room. Some places could be really crowded or could be packed. Or it could be full of people. Right? Rory talked about boarding gates. Like at the airport, like crowds of people. Also markets or shops, like the ones in Istanbul, the ones meaning markets or shops. So these places usually have a lot of people or crowds of people. Also, dear listener, shopping centres, airports, tourist attractions, okay? Like, you can also give some examples like Tokyo, and Times Square. And Rory, do you know like, which city is the busiest city in the world?
R: Oh, it'll be a big one. So New York? Because that's the city that never sleeps.

M: No, no, no the busiest city in the world is? Mexico City.

R: Really?

M: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mexico City.

R: How many people live there then?

M: A lot. Crowds of people. So you can also say that large cities can get really busy. Busy? Like meaning, like full of people, right? Like, markets are quite busy. Right? Or shopping centres could get quite busy. Yeah, could get quite crowded. And Rory also told us that large cities seem quite full. Okay? Again, like packed, full, and crowded. Unwind is a nice one.

R: Yes.

M: What do people do there?

R: They unwind, they relax, they chill out.

M: Chill out. Unwind, not unwind. No, because the wind is like... The wind blows. Here we use unwind. It's the meaning of relax. How often? Rarely. So kind of not often, okay? Like hardly ever, I hardly ever go to crowded places or I rarely go to crowded places. And come on, like in Scotland, how many people live there? 5 million?

R: Only just over 5 million.

M: One neighbourhood in Moscow. Okay?

R: Not much. Well, no, that's not true. Not many people but much going on.

M: And you said that like people are spread out.

R: Yeah. So that's like the opposite of crowded together, I suppose. If you're crowded together, then you're packed into one tight place. But if you're spread out, then you're all over the place.

M: Here, you can start with, like I said before. So you refer back to your previous answers. Like I said before, it depends on the people. It depends on the crowds. Yeah? If it's a happy crowd, I enjoy crowded places. So it depends on the atmosphere. Yeah? It depends on the crowd itself. Yeah? And then like if, if people, if everyone is chilled out, if they're relaxed, happy. Happy, happy. Happy. happy, happy. So if the mood of the crowd is happy, happy, happy, I'm quite happy to be there. And Rory used a phrasal verb. Band nine phrasal verb, to rub along with others. When you rub along with others, you kind of work or live together.

R: Well, you work and live together well. Yeah. Which is funny because you think that rubbing with people would not be a very satisfying experience. But of course, if it's a nice atmosphere, then it's fine.

M: For example, my flatmate and I rub along together well. Like rub. Rub my hands. So rub along okay together. Yeah? So I'm quite happy to rub along with others. And it's nice because like we talk about crowds, and in a crowd, you kind of, rub along with other people. Literally, yeah? Kind of you touch other people. Because there's no elbow room, there's no wiggle room. Rory used a nice idiom about sardines. They are a kind of fish.

R: A very tiny fish.
M: You know, we have tuna, we have sardines. And usually, it's a tin of sardines. You know? Like this kind of box, you will make a tuna salad. So tuna is in a tin and like sardines are often in a tin. So imagine all these sardines are packed in there. So if we are packed in like sardines. Yeah? Not really nice. Could you give us another example with sardines?

R: Well, if you're on a bus, and there's lots of people then you could be packed in together like sardines. Or if you've ever been to Tokyo, and you've been on the public transport there, then people are often packed in like sardines because they're just like, right up against each other, not able to move. In fact, I think they have people to pack them in like that because there are just so many and it's just impossible to do it any other way.

M: People could get antsy. Antsy?

R: Yes. So irritated and agitated.

M: Not like sardines. Sardines are usually kind of like... Hey! No problem. You're gonna eat us? Okay, we're happy. So antsy. Antsy is informal. Usually, in American English, very nervous or worried. Unpleasantly excited. Okay? So kind of like, children started to get antsy. Yeah? Or I sometimes get antsy about, like job interviews, so, yeah, not really nice. Also, we can say someplace is jam-packed. Rory, what is like jammed? Or jam-packed or jammed?

R: Well, you're jammed into a place, but you're jam-packed into a place. Or a place is jam-packed. But all of these are just different ways of describing all these people together in one place. And the difficulty with moving because everyone is so close together. A traffic jam may have very similar imagery.

M: Yeah, for example, popular markets are usually jam-packed. Okay? Or I was at* a concert and I was jammed. I was jammed?

R: Well, you could say the concert was jammed or the movement of the people was jammed. Because there's just so many of them that they cannot move.

M: Right, dear listener, tell us about your feelings in a crowded place in the comments. Okay? Is your city crowded? Which places are usually crowded? And how do you feel in a crowded place? Let us know in the comments. Okay? Don't get your brain crowded. Keep them spacious.

R: But do crowd our comments and our Instagram messages with the answers to our reflection activity which is to summarize. So how would you summarize in one sentence my feelings about crowded places? They're pretty negative, I think. But what phrases could you use from today's video to describe them?

M: Wiggle-wiggle-wiggle. I think it's in a song somewhere. Wiggle-wiggle-wiggle.

R: It is. But let's not dwell on that too much.

M: Something like this. Yeah, wiggle-wiggle-wiggle. Okay, let's wiggle.

R: Wiggle on to the next episode. Stop!

M: Bye!

R: Bye!
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