I originally wrote this in the summer of 2012 as a middle-of-the-night rant. It’s since undergone several edits and has appeared in The Triumph Of Our Tired Eyes #3 (which is available via Fight Boredom Distro). I’ve read it aloud at zine readings and punk shows in various cities – to laughter and cheers and high-fives, and awkward silence and heckles and threats of violence. I’m making it available online (again) because sharing is fun and because I believe this shit is important.
For the record, this happened at Death House in Montréal (not to be confused with Deathchurch).
This Is A Punk Show Not A War
Someone approached me and asked me to step to the front. They said, “The feminist revolution is happening right here!” It was decided that the dudes were no longer going to take up space. For once, we were going to dance in front of the stage. We’d been stuck at the back of the room all night, smoke being blown in our faces. One guy put his hand around my left hip in order to pass me – why do they always do that? Why can’t they just tap me on the shoulder or something? They’ve always gotta touch my hips, my ass, the small of my back. They always want to remind me that I am a girl. They always want to touch me.
The band set up and we formed a row at the front. They played, and we danced. The dudes, the two big dudes, the two big dudes who’d spent the whole night at the front pushing everyone else outta their way and taking up so much space, they didn’t like it. We watched them, watching us, and we continued to dance. They pushed their way through – well, the tried. One of them was exactly one foot taller than me; I know this because he offered me his stats later on, then added, “I’m skinny, I’m a small guy, how can I be taking up space?” He’d inch closer toward us, plotting his next move, then try to get between my friends and I, but we weren’t gonna let it happen. We linked arms and we vowed to stick together. We blocked him. We blocked him over and over again. Somehow I always found myself at the front, he just couldn’t get past me – save for one brief moment. It was a concerted effort on his part. He couldn’t stand to my left or to my right, he had to stand directly in front of me to bang his head and chug his beer – because he’d seen how we intentionally moved from the back of the room to the front. I wasn’t having it. I moved up next to him and danced hard, I shook my pink hair around and I forced him outta that space. He was behind us yet again.
Then his friend came in from the left. He made his way along the line of us, trying to bust on through, and we stood our ground. Dude wouldn’t let up and I thought: Fuck it, you want a mosh pit, I will give you a mosh pit. I jumped up and down, I pushed him around, and finally I dug my elbows right into him. I never let him reach the stage for a second. My friends pulled on his fucking skinny white suspenders and we danced circles around him. We were a team.
Tall dude tried to talk to me. He said, “This is a punk show, not a war.” Funny that – when we take up space, it is seen as a declaration of war, yet when men do the exact same thing, it’s just a punk show. I told him to stop talking to me. I said, “I’ve heard enough, you’re boring me now.” And I danced some more.
The set ended and my friends and I exchanged hugs and high-fives. We were all smiles and sweat and adrenaline. But these two dudes just couldn’t let it go. First they tried the sad-puppy act, the come-on-we’re-just-trying-to-have-fun and then it was you’re-violent-you-hurt-us-you-gotta-calm-down and finally it was you-bitches-you-cunts-go-the-fuck-home and we were banned from Death House.
The entitlement. We stood in front of the stage for one set at one show and they couldn’t accept it. They had to reclaim that space, they had to push us and shove us and block our view and call us names. I shouted at them a bit but that was the worst part. They were such cliché drunkpunks, they were never gonna get it. They didn’t seem to realize the macho show they were putting on, the I’m-a-big-dude-and-I’m-gonna-talk-over-you-now, as if it wasn’t already a part of our daily lives, as if they hadn’t won the battles at every other show. I couldn’t even argue with them, I just said, “You’re boring, you’re so fucking boring!” and they were.
And my friends and I, we ran away into the night, laughing and patting each other on the back and saying, “That was beautiful!” over and over again. And for me, maybe it’s not a war, but it is never just a punk show.
Further reading: This Is (Another) Punk Show Not A War