A few months ago, I headed out Pittsburgh with my brother and my mom to visit my Grandma for Easter. My brother loves going to shows just as much as I do and we like a lot of the same music. Because he works nights, he was pretty bummed out about missing the past few shows in our hometown, Buffalo, NY. Just a few weeks before, we also ventured out of town to Pittsburgh, so he could catch some good artists on a Saturday. We had a really good night, but he was thinking that it would be the only concert he could have attended in a while.
On the ride over to our Grandma's, I entertained the idea that there was probably a show we could go to while we were staying with her. Sure enough, Boogie T and SQUNTO’s Strike Back Tour was going to be playing at the Rex Theater that weekend. I just went to my town’s date of that tour about a week prior and had an amazing time with my crew, but unfortunately my brother had to work. I suggested that we go!
He agreed that it was a good idea and that it would give us something fun to do besides family time while we were out of town. Neither of us were planning on going before we left, so neither of us brought “rave clothes” with us. Besides church clothes, we didn’t have a lot of options and we didn’t have a car. I threw on some black cotton leggings, sneakers, and a black t-shirt. He threw on jeans, and a button-up shirt. We ordered an Uber and headed downtown, ready to have a great night listening to good music.
When we walked into this venue, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for us. The openers were starting, we had a few drinks, but I had this looming feeling of being SUPER uncomfortable.
We’ve both been to shows and even festivals alone before. While we’re used to having a pretty big group of friends at our local shows… we had never been ignored or side-eyed so much at a show before. My brother kind of looked like a cop that night, so maybe that played into it? Either way, it was a WEIRD vibe.
When we first walked into the venue, a lot of the girls there had their look very together and most of the girls had similar outfits - fishnets, cheeky shorts, and some type of crop top or bralette. Standard for a riddim show like this and probably exactly what I wore when I went to another date of the tour. I felt self-conscious because I enjoy dressing up for shows and I couldn’t... and maybe it was all in my head, but what happened next wasn’t.
A girl walks past my brother and smirks, “Try harder next time.” My brother didn’t say anything back, determined to still have a good time. We shifted our position in the crowd and Boogie T’s Raven Master started bumping. Although it was just one comment, the general vibe just felt judgey, but we were determined not to let it ruin our night. Besides, it didn’t matter as much with the music blaring and the the lights down.
The moral of this story is, no matter what city you’re in or what your situation is like, to make someone intentionally feel like they don’t belong is exactly what we don’t need in the EDM community. Judgment doesn’t belong in this space! No matter the subgenre or the type of event, why would you try to make someone feel uncomfortable or out of place? After this experience, I really try to stay super aware at shows I go to, making sure to ask people how they’re feeling if something seems off. I love seeing totems at festivals that say. “Lost? Dance with us!” That’s how to community should be!
What you’re wearing, or not wearing, to shows, is never an excuse or invitation for these types of comments. I love wearing rave clothes, making costumes, all of that- but it’s totally unnecessary to feel like you always HAVE to. Sometimes you just want a comfy night or sometimes you might not have the time to pull a look together, and that’s completely okay.
It’s also not an excuse or invitation for touching, grabbing, or dancing on someone who hasn’t given you explicit permission to do so - and I’ve got plenty of stories about that. Everyone in this community deserves to enjoy themselves at events. That means that you keep your paws and comments to yourself. Spread positivity when you’re out and it will come back to you!