Photo Essay


The Pit

What you see here, is most teacher's worst nightmare. Loud, unruly kids. Obnoxious, spiky hair, Mohawks, leather jackets coated with studded spikes. And that's just the kids. The music? A semi-rhythmic mish mash of loud...well, noise, really. Words? I couldn't distinguish more than two. The rest, a guttural screaming. The dance? A continuous mosh pit of flying elbows, knees, and bodies. Most of the people were underage and screaming along with the bands.

And I, for one (ha, the oldest one there probably) couldn't have felt better, safer or had more fun. While in this concert at a downtown club, I kept thinking of the teachers (I have more than 10 years in the classroom as an English teacher) that seemed to have it in their contract to control every kid under their authority, instead of listening, instead of teaching. The kind of teachers that Pink Floyd wrote their song for.

I went on as a hired lens for a friend to shoot his punk band and another friend's band. And I come to you to report that as far as this teacher is concerned, this youth is alright. Their spirit of non-conformity is very much intact, their need for revolution is apparent, and their voices are loud. The pessimist in me hopes that their hopes are never quashed by the weight of adulthood. The optimist in me knows that most innovations come from the stuff I saw this night.

When I've shown these photos to other adults like my mom or my cousin, their first reaction is one of concern, both for them and for me. I am very much a pacifist, and that is as close as I've come to a mosh pit, ever. At the end of the night, though, I heard many heartfelt please's, thank you's, and I'm sorry's. There were congratulatory hugs and good wishes. At no time did anybody stare at me as an outsider, which I was. Only once did I see anyone's anger flare, which was just as quickly stopped. Every time someone fell, that person was picked up. Every time someone accidentally ran into someone in the band, their first concern was for the other, and then another would come to protect the band. Speaking of which, this show had the highest amount of audience participation I had seen in a long time, and I'm Mexican. Mariachi music is almost designed with audience participation, but never do audience members run on-stage en masse and sing into the singer's microphone, and get congratulated for it.

As an outsider, I knew to attempt to judge this show on its own merits, not on my own narrow views, just as I do to any of my friends or students. As best as I can figure, this is the way "Fight Club" was intended, a violent cathartic music so that people can have a primal scream, in the safety of their comrades.

So, children of the hippy 60's, of the punk bands of the 70's, of the counter-culture New Wave 80's, of rap, of grunge; if you have forgotten your revolution, these kids haven't. Thank goodness.

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6 responses

  • Megan Green

    Megan Green said (28 Feb 2011):

    Never forgot. Love that the kid has a Black Flag shirt on! Great essay, my vote.

  • ELde Hopkins

    ELde Hopkins said (1 Mar 2011):

    I love the essay. I've been to a lot of punk shows and it's really nice to read about somebody who maybe isn't necessarily of that scene praising it, no body else seems to understand. My friend is very short and she is perfect size to be elbowed in the face in every mosh pit or circle SKAnk she's ever entered and not once has anyone hit her without apologizing profusely. Thanks a lot!

  • Cassandra Zingaro

    Cassandra Zingaro said (1 Mar 2011):

    I'm so glad to know the spirit of these shows is still alive somewhere. I'm from Syracuse, the birthplace of hardcore, and the scene out here has gone to hell. Shows these days aren't about community anymore. Hardcore shows in Syracuse are about fights and anger...hardcore kids pitted against metal kids, and people like me getting stomped in the sidelines. No apologies, no picking each other up, no sense of belonging. I can't tell you how sad it makes me. I don't even go anymore, it's too much. So thank you for your story. Thank you for showing me that somewhere the scene is still real.

  • R.J. C.

    R.J. C. said (1 Mar 2011):

    Thanks guys...I had to write a random story for the paper I work on the same day, but this i wrote for fun. This one wrote itself. Whenever I'm a teacher, I hate that teacher gossip invariably turns to such and such kid who is a troublemaker...and it's usually one of my favorite kids. I can imagine most of these kids are THAT kid, but most of their teachers can't see beyond the hair, etc. to give them a chance.
    That, and it really was fun...and as a rule, I don't like going to concerts cuz I'm afraid of that one guy who will start a fight and the whole place will break into chaos. After the first band, I realized that wasn't going to happen here.
    Stay true.

  • Angel Perez

    Angel Perez said (1 Mar 2011):

    The author of the story made a very good point, most people forget thier past and are the first to critticise the now events. The story makes an AMAZING Point. Be who You want to Be, and Be good at It. Some may think a Rose is Beautiful, and Others may see a Dandelion just as spectacular. What is so special, a view from a teachers perspective. How cool is THAT!

  • Sarah Jessica Eve

    Sarah Jessica Eve said (1 Mar 2011):

    Punks are so pretty :)

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