Hands in the Air at Merriweather Post Pavilion

I thought my blog about my visit to the Merriweather Post Pavilion was going to be about spots to eat, drink and grab some shade at the outdoor music venue north of the Beltway in Columbia, Md.

But as I stood in the dark of the crowded amphitheater last night, the light-show spectacle of the band Queens of the Stone Age exploding in front of my eyes, their bass drum thumping against my chest and making me sway and shimmy and shuffle my feet in the 1-by-1 foot space in front my seat, I realized that this blog needed to more than a "tips" article. It needed to be a call to action. This visceral jolt of an eye-dazzling light show, music beating against your body, the summer heat against your skin, and the undeniable urge to dance in public is something we as middle-aged, responsible parents and partners don’t experience very often anymore.

So do this. This summer. Claim your 1-by-1 foot of space and dance.

“We’re here to drink, dance, party and have a good time,” Queens lead singer and guitarist Josh Homme told the crowd. “There ain’t no time for anything else.”

Josh Homme, Queens of the Stone Age

Homme is a big, broad-shouldered red-head who swivels his hips like Elvis and smokes while he plays guitar. He’s the hottest Agent Brody ever. If there is any man to inspire a crowd to embrace a good time and the inherent sensuality of a concert on a summer night, it is this man. I saw grown men air-guitaring along with him. A middle-aged woman waved her hands like an orchestra director while he sat at a piano and sang about vampires.

But say intense, alt-metal isn’t your thing. Every flavor of band -- from Beck to Phish to Huey Lewis and the News -- is playing at area outdoor venues this summer. Columbia, Md., feels too far to drive? You’ve got Wolftrap just outside the Beltway in Vienna, Va., and Jiffy Lube Live in the far-out Northern Virginia 'burb of Bristow, Va.

So go. Dance. Move. Clap along. Air drum along with the drummer (the Queens drummer was hottie and Baltimore native Jon Theodore). But claim that space and enjoy it.

A full bar with shade and fans inside Merriweather

This outdoor music venue set among 40 acres of trees in Columbia, Md., has a quirky, natural charm with lots of tongue-in-cheek statues, barns used as restrooms and food shacks, and a small deck at the top of the sloping lawn selling $5 beers. It also has incredible acoustics, famed architect Frank Gehry as its designer and a stage that saw Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead on its boards. For eats, head to the Jerry's Crisp and Toasty Grilled Cheese stand in the northwest corner for a cheddar, applewood bacon and tomato sandwich on honey wheat. For drinks, go to the 9:32 Club on the west side, a mini-9:30 Club with a full bar, table and stools, fans, and TVs streaming the show. You may never leave.

Click to see Merriweather Post Pavilion's summer schedule.