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Improving the Scene Starts With Us

Improving the Scene Starts With Us

A few weeks ago, after witnessing some idiocy at Warped Tour—which I’ve since renamed, “The I’m Far Too Goddamn Old For This Shit Fest”– Adam wrote a piece that he caught a lot of flack for regarding “Mosh Pit Rules.” He was genuinely bummed when people started giving him shit, as he presented a lot of valid points. The main gripe with his article was that he implied that punk rock should have rules. It shouldn’t. Punk exists as an escape from conventional living for those of us who aren’t compatible with the 9-5, white picket fence grind. Things like what to wear, who to love, and what to music to enjoy are never dictated, and for many of us the punk scene is the best sense of family that we’ve experienced. Punk isn’t just music and mohawks; punk is a lifestyle that boasts freedom, individuality, and brother and sisterhood. And for some of us, punk is all we have.

As the Offspring show was winding down tonight, an awesome lady who we’re just getting to know approached us.   She had been in the pit for the majority of the show, but during the last set she was forcibly choked, held down, and sexually assaulted by one of the men in the crowd. There were other reports of similar behavior on Twitter later. At other recent shows, Adam and I have witnessed several people bragging about how many people they personally hurt in the pit. People like to throw all of these behaviors under the guise of punk rock freedoms.   Yes, punk rock is about being your own person and doing whatever you’d like. Sometimes it’s crass and subversive, and that’s OK. You know what punk rock isn’t about? Beating the hell out of people without a good reason and sexually violating another person. Those actions don’t make you a punk. They make you an asshole, and these assholes are quickly ruining an already wounded scene.

Yes, it’s true that there are no rules in punk rock. As a lifestyle, however, it does have an often unspoken code of ethics that have seemingly been swept under the rug. These ethics help build cohesive scenes both during shows and in the community at large. The problem is, no one seems to understand them. Don’t worry. I’m here to help.

We are all the same.

There is no one in the punk scene who is better than another person. We’re all just kids who love music and fit in best where most people don’t fit. Stop and think before you talk shit about people you see at shows, because really, you’re only talking shit on yourself.

All positive people are always welcome.

Sexual preference (or lack thereof), gender, age, weight, skin color—none of that shit matters in our community.   Positive people are an asset to the community and should be treated as such.

Every few years or so, there seems to be a Nazi uprising that invades the punk scene. I’m sure you understand what that entails. There’s no place in our community for senseless violence predicated by race, and Nazi fucks should be dealt with accordingly. I’m not saying D batteries in socks as a weapon are a good idea, but I’m also not saying they’re a bad idea.

Welcome visitors openly.

Diverse crowds at punk shows are beautiful things. People often bring friends who aren’t part of the scene, and these people should not be judge for that. We’re all outsiders who just happened to find each other, so let’s show them how wonderful our scene can be. If they are complaining or judging our scene, just ignore it. They obviously don’t understand our community and probably won’t make a return trip, anyway.

Take care of your brothers and sisters.

Most of us like to mosh, or at the very least do some sick windmills in a circle pit. If someone falls, pick them up. If they want to continue, they will. If one fall was enough, respect that. If someone is giving them a hard time, or “head hunting” them, step up and help them put an end to it. Most of us gravitated to the punk lifestyle to get away from people who were bullying us. There’s no place for overly aggro on purpose in punk rock.

Sexual assault at shows has become unfortunately commonplace, and it needs to stop. Women are of equal value to men in the punk scene, and it’s time that we showed that to the world. If you see one of our beautiful ladies being hassled by someone, ask if everything’s OK. If you see her being touched inappropriately and it’s clear that it’s an unwelcome act, you don’t even have to ask before you intervene. Depending on the venue, often the band or security cannot see what’s happening in the pit. It’s up to us to regulate this, and if you stand idly by you’re sending the assaulter the message that sexual assault is OK in the punk community when it’s absolutely fucking not.

There are also a fair amount of misogynistic comments being thrown around, some directly toward our sisters. This is not OK. Our scene wouldn’t work without our ladies; it’d turn into an all dude frat party really quickly. We are a valuable commodity; we should never feel unsafe or less of a person in our own community.

Respect peoples’ space.

Never force anyone into the pit if they don’t want to be there. I love pits as much as the next person, but I’ve had a pretty bad concussion for almost 6 months. If you throw me in and I hit my head, it could be lights out for me. My life’s pretty rad, and I’d appreciated it if you’d keep your hands to yourself so I can continue to enjoy it.

Don’t start a fight unless there’s a goddamn good reason.

I would waste too much internet space if I listed all of the terrible reasons to start a fight, so I’ll just give you some of the acceptable ones:

  • Sexual assault
  • Nazis fucks
  • Head hunters

Really, that’s about it. You can’t fight someone for being a drunken idiot at a show, but please, feel free to utilize venue security to remove them from the premises. Also, if someone starts a fight with you, it’s your call whether you choose to walk away or end it. No one will judge you for either choice.

None of these are rules. There really aren’t any rules in punk rock. These are ethics implied by our lifestyle choice, and these ethics make sure that our community is brimming with honest, creative, and supportive individuals. These ethics are what define a good person in our scene. Honestly, if you’re not a good person, you can go kick rocks. We have all the family we need right here.

About Laura

Writer, girlfriend, and vegan straight edge queer. My life revolves around punk rock, ethical animal rescue, and human rights activism. I live in Morningside with an out of my league dude, two American Pit Bull Terrier hooligans, a codependent Maine Coon, and a fancy as fuck Russian Blue with some serious medical issues. I'm technically a transplant (814 to 412), but Pgh is my heart.

7 comments

  1. Should we call the mayor and ask him to ban punk rock concerts and also blindly stereotype everyone that was in attendance?
    Oh…we only do that when it’s something we don’t like. Lol.

  2. How about we all act like civil human beings and not get all rapey just because we think it’s our right to violate someone else?

  3. One dude being a piece of shit surrounded by countless people that did nothing.
    Didn’t you give away Screaching Weasel tix? And go to the show?
    So if I used your logic, you and our punk “scene” support violence and sexual assault against women?

    Laura’s right. Lets start acting like civil human beings. And while we’re at it lets not stereotype and bash entire genres of music. It doesn’t get us anywhere, in fact, it makes us look bad.

    • Oh, Screeching Weasel. It’s sad when good bands are fronted by pieces of shit.

      Honestly, Adam and I went to that show to see The Queers. I spent most of the evening tweeting about how much of an asshole Ben Weasel is (with or without the assault charge, that dude is toxic). We didn’t pay to get into the show and bought zero merch, because fuck funding his lifestyle. Unfortunately, we couldn’t give away tickets to see The Queers and The Manges (who are great and deserve a packed house to play to) without mentioning that Screeching Weasel was going to be there, too.

      And to be fair, 98% of modern country is complete garbage. I’d be happy if it all disappeared and we just kept recycling Cash and Jennings records.

  4. 100% of it is garbage IMO but that doesn’t mean that 100% of their fans are garbage.

    • Agreed! I have good friends who are good people who just so happen to like unfortunate music. I’m sure they think the same of me.

      Country, hip hop, punk, whatever; just be a good person and pick up your (metaphorical and literal) trash.

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