The Wonder and Struggle of Being a Girl at a Concert
*Warning: I don’t hold back on my language here.
Last night I went to a Dropkick Murphys show, which was amazing. My experience at the show reminded me of a number of things I’ve noted over the years, but have never thought about except as a way to improve my own concert-going behavior.
Let me preface my thoughts by saying that women are trained throughout life to be quiet, not pushy, not “bossy,” etc. I guess the expectation is that we will grow into a delicate little flower who doesn’t want her petals mussed. This behavior might be successful – I wouldn’t know as I tend to try to balance my native outspokenness with my equally native shyness and I’m sure polite behavior enters in there somewhere, since I don’t seem to offend an inordinate amount of people. However, staying in the background does NOT work in a concert.
Correction – it doesn’t work if you’re on the floor of a concert. It works in the mezzanine because you have a seat and you don’t have to be pushy or anything.
Anyway, I was on the floor of the Roseland Theater. The opening act was rocking our socks and I noticed something very interesting. Girls were hanging back, letting larger guys or girls with guys leading them into the crowd go ahead. Not only that, the girls hanging back would take a step away from people who jostled them. I say this is the wrong way to approach a concert when you’re on the main floor. So, here’s how I attend a concert – along with the pros/cons of each step:
1. Wear comfy shoes. This is pre-concert prep, but it’s important. I don’t care if you’re going on a date, trying to pick up guys, or just want to look sexy – you can’t wear heals to a show – even if you’re sitting in the mezzanine.
Pros: Comfort during the show and not limping all the following day.
Cons: Not as cute as your cutest pair of shoes (boohoo) and if you are wearing soft toed shoes, you have to be quick on your feet. Otherwise they will get stepped on. They’d get stepped on in your uncomfortable shoes too…
2. Be pushy. It’s time to follow that inner voice which says “just push that asshole out of the way.” If you want to get through a crowd at a concert, push your way through it. I promise you, practically noone will get offended. After all, others push their way past you all the time.
Pros: You can get closer to the front! Another pro is that being pushy can help you keep any creepsters away. If someone is being gross and rubbing up against you inappropriately, just push him or her away. They’ll get the message.
Also, GIRL POWER!!!!!
Cons: Three words: Other People’s Sweat. You will exchange sweat with others. It’s gonna happen with that many bodies close together. It’s gross, but not as gross as paying to see a concert and not seeing jack.
3. Stand your ground. Picture this: you’re semi close to the mosh pit and a HUGE dude comes up with his girlfriend behind you and starts pressing up against you. You’re not going into the mosh pit – it’s not gonna happen – but the guy is making you uncomfortable. This happened to me. I could have yelled at my husband to do something or I could have moved and been trapped in some other uncomfortable position. But screw that. I’m an independent woman, yo.
So I stood my ground, and maneuvered my body so I couldn’t help elbowing him occasionally, pushing into his stomach with my back, and making other contact which was uncomfortable to him. That’s key. I just made it super unpleasant for him to stand there. Guess what, he moved.
Please note I’m not advocating violence. But I also don’t feel it’s appropriate for some random dude to press his entire body up against mine. I didn’t consent to that and I was there first.
Pros: You stay in the awesome spot that you found.
Cons: It’s counter-intuitive and might make you feel uncomfortable. If you really don’t feel comfortable about actively pushing back, you may want to elicit the help of people around you. Concert goers are generally pretty nice and social people. So, if the circumstances are very uncomfortable, ask someone next to you to swap spots and/or ask the person smooshing you to back off a little.
Another note: If the person shoving against you is being sexually inappropriate, turn around, get a good picture of his face (turn on your flash if needed – it’ll blind the prick and let you get away that much faster, with a better shot of his face), and go find security. Do it for the safety of all the women at the show.
4. Do Unto Others and all that. Okay, there’s a lot of pushing and shoving that happens at a show. Because of this there are people who need a breather as well as people who want to get in on the action. If someone is just trying to get to the mosh pit or find a good spot – or if they are trying to get out of the mosh pit, help them out. Move out of the way for the time it takes the person to pass. Get your group to make way. You’re in a huge crowd that is mainly self-governing. If you are nice to others, it’ll come back to you in good ways.
True story: At the Dropkick Murphy’s show I was pretty near the mosh pit, near enough that people were diving in and diving out pretty consistently. I helped them move in whichever way they wanted. Then, later on all the girls were either getting on stage or crowd surfing forward. This huge teddy bear of a man gave me a leg up without me asking and I had my first crowd surfing experience. The whole space was really respectful (no one tried to cop a feel) and I had an amazing time.
Pros: Your experience and the experience of those around you will be bettered.
Cons: I can’t think of any. Unless you don’t like people. Then you probably shouldn’t go to a concert.
5. Protect yourself. No matter what, if you are uncomfortable, do what you need to do to protect yourself. I was in a defensive stance the majority of the time, with my fists up and my arms protecting my soft bits. This isn’t because someone was doing something bad – just I was worried I might get an elbow to the boob on accident and I wasn’t willing to risk it. I also did a lot of fancy footwork to avoid getting my feet stepped on.
However, I was at a Sleigh Bells show where the “mosh” area was in pretty constant expansion and at one point I decided nay, I am not going to be in this press of people. It was so tight I was practically hyperventilating. So, I ducked through the crowd and enjoyed the show from the edge.
So, no matter what, be safe, stay comfortable, and enjoy the show!