A BoilerRoom gig where nearly everyone I know in Guildford (and beyond – hello Paul!) is there. I had free ‘tickets’ too. Competition winner. Finally! Despite me telling the girl on the door to let him in, I had to go vouch for my co-winner Dan at the door – the bouncers hadn’t even let him get that far! The place is a great venue, with a soundproof ‘airlock’ out to the beer garden to spare the (fussy) neighbours. I have played there a few times and it’s got a much better layout now, cracking little venue, but expensive drinks… got their very own microbrewery bottled brew though… I usually stick to one coke. They don’t really do covers/tribute bands except as private hire, but that’s all to the general good.
In order – and in a very realistically rendered order of increasing blurriness as the evening went on – White Pigeon (80’s style fun-rock goodness), Frantic Alice (“will be great when they hit puberty”), Fighting Wolves (hairy, noisy and Scottish) and Sons Of Icarus (local heroes). Whole place turns into an inescapable all-ages moshpit in the end. Including girls in summer flowery dresses and cardigans. So Very Wrong. Even I get dragged in – not happened for a very long time, I’m too small and lack the anaesthetic protection of alcohol… We all look out for each other in a funny way, helping to minimise actual damage from what looks like total carnage. Fascinating. And good to see some of my friends in freak-out mode. Sometimes it’s just me going mental. Like to see that everyone can and does.
There were downsides though. Managed to still feel alone in a crowd, even in such a well-known-to-me crowd. Guess that’s got to be down to me, but how, I can’t work out. I was also put on the physically-jumpy-defensive by (again) personal contact issues. I have gone into some of this on FB but I’ll get it down here too, and maybe expand/expound.
When the fuck did it apparently become acceptable to touch a woman you don’t know AT ALL on her (bare) shoulder? It’s not fucking acceptable to me, and WILL get you screamed at to leave me alone, or shrugged off violently, to the point of punching you.
I am not talking moshpit stuff (that’s different). Just guys that I have never met, and in one case not even spoken to, in my life touching me within the first minute of conversation – when there is no evidence I am inviting it. Oh I’ll hug people I know and like – unless they are not comfortable with that themselves. I watch first, and try to work out beforehand if they are or aren’t happy with physical contact from friends, and wait until we do know each other in any case (on whatever timescale is appropriate to the particular person). Bare skin (other than a handshake) will always give me pause, in fact I pretty much just won’t unless it’s safety-related – or there’s an unmistakable invitation combined with mutual interest. In which latter specific case, I am very much *for* it! So much so that I think that this is why I am so carefully polite, and why I expect the same respect. I think my aim is both consideration of others and utter clarity of intent. No ambiguity. It seems to have served me well.
My defensive reactions are too quick, I really don’t get a choice. So one guy who’d made a point of talking to me after I’d already pointedly walked out of a conversation got away with getting screamed at in full metal vocalist voice to leave me the fuck alone. The previously-oddly-stary one who I’d made an elaborate point of letting past/going past without so much contact as brushing clothes got an instinctive just-about-pulled backfist the 3rd time he came past. I favour my personal comfort over “politeness” every time. I can, and will, be very loud, aggressive and obvious in my defence and very very early in a sequence of actions. I’ll not quite pre-empt but I will pre-emptively avoid getting within range. Funny, it has never happened in Berlin. Maybe Germans are more polite!
Guys get it too, seen it. That shit is no good either way! They get harassed/pressured by women much further than they should because they don’t want to be “nasty” or “rude”. Stuff that. If someone is making you uncomfortable, tell them. In whatever terms it take to make them stop (or leave). Or just leave the conversation.
I guess the news puts this sort of thing in my mind. The US nutter gun spree over a girl who said no, and the whole subsequent discussions. My shock at how ‘normal’ that attitude is over there – my building dislike of how certain related things are over here. What do you do? Once, my answer was “have another vodka”. Not proud of that, now. But I am still here myself. Undamaged. Sometimes survival matters more. But sometimes we need to make people do what’s right, not do what’s wrong. It’s hard, it’s hard on the soul.