A Brief Romance With Punk

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When I was in high school, the trend of being emo was in full thrive. A few of my friends would sport a fringe covering half their face, fell in love with Alex Heartbreaker, and would perfect the art of wearing thick eyeliner.

It was never really for me, the emo style. It wasn’t the most cheerful of looks or attitudes, a lot of the music was awful, and the link to self harm and suicide was worrying. So what was a young, naive teenage girl to do when the alternative scene was calling her, but she wanted to be in more control of her image rather than jumping on the [EMO]tional bandwagon.

She chose punk.

To the thirteen year old me, punk was amazing. The whole “fuck you” attitude could take me away from the little dramas of high school: fall outs, grades, and cliques. I could emerge myself into a world that didn’t try to impress- instead it encouraged a sense of individuality from customised clothing to the broad range of punk rock sub-genres. The famous “Punks Not Dead” saying rang true: to me, punk was alive.

Of course for a thirteen year old who wanted to be something that was in its prime 30 years previously, it wouldn’t be a perfect discovery of the self. Whilst on paper punk was an expression of individual freedom, I found that if you weren’t the perfect example of ripped clothing, mohawks and safety pins in your skin, you apparently were not a “real punk”.

Who could be considered a real punk? Was it the underground bands who toured in a van? I remember once reading a YouTube comment complaining that Green Day* were sell outs because they have air conditioned tour buses. So the true meaning of punk is to give up home comforts? And using the punk subculture to make any political or individual statements is irrelevant?

I realised that the supposed freedom of punk was very limited, I grew up and took my image and style into my own hands. I will argue that punk was different to other subcultures, trends or labels, as it included art, literature, social commentary and more. When I pull my old tartan drainpipes out of the wardrobe to wear, the confidence a punk attitude gave me is still alive. But I would advise any thirteen year old girl that their own style is there to create and evolve, and is only a fraction of their identity that they project onto the rest of the world. What others think or do is of little importance.

Which, in a funny way, is what drew me to punk in the first place.

 

*There’s a lot of debate over what genre Green day actually is: punk, emo, pop rock…personally I just like to say alternative.

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Festival Tips 101

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I have been to a few different festivals since I was 16, and as a result of getting stuck in mud, rained on, sun burnt and lost more than I’d like to recall, I have picked up a few tips and lessons learnt. Now that the British festival season is upon us I thought it would be fun to pass on some of these tips that I feel are worth bearing in mind.

 

1. Make a thorough list of what to pack

The first time I went to Glastonbury I searched online for what previous goers had advised to bring. The official websites of festivals generally also provide a list of the essentials. I find it useful to examine a few, and create your own list that is personally tailored to suit your own needs. Essentials include a tent, sleeping bag, underwear, wet wipes, money to last the whole festival, ID, a way to get there and back, and of course the precious ticket.

 

2. Research into where you want to set up camp

The big festivals have a variety of different campsites, that range from family friendly to being where the after parties are held. This is good to look into before you set off, as you don’t want to have little kids sleeping next to intoxicated youths partying, or if you want to be close to the action you might not want to camp in the family area that is generally further away and so quite a trek. It will also be beneficial as you can decide which gate to enter through, to ensure you grab a decent space at your chosen campsite.

 

3. Plan your times

The big festivals such as Glastonbury can be hell to navigate and to get from one stage to another. So it is important to plan out who you want to see, and whether you have to leave early or arrive late at some acts. Some people stay outside the main stage nearly all day to see the big act they’ve been waiting for. Personally I think this is a waste of a good festival, but these long weekends are designed for each individual to create their own experience.

 

4. Go with people you could stand for a long weekend

This is a little harsh, but everyone has friends/family who they know they could not be up close to for a long period of time without tension being created. Having to set up and live in a tent, being tired and hungover, and even the weather can all cause bad moods. So choose your festival buddies wisely: might your best friend be unable to stand the lack of shower facilities? Might your partner choose all the acts you’d hate to see? Depending on who you go with, a festival can bring you closer together, but it could also cause one of you to pack up and go home before the good bands have even started.

 

5. Embrace the weather

This also includes checking the forecast in advance. If you are going to a festival in Britain for example, it commonly rains and you will be outdoors nearly the whole long weekend. This does mean you shouldn’t pack nothing but denim shorts, lace tops and some flowers for you hair (looking at you boys) if there is predicted downpour throughout. Thanks to festivals wellies have a whole range of fabulous patterns and colours to choose from, and I would also advise a waterproof, as fellow festival goers will not appreciate an umbrella blocking their view. However if you’re lucky enough to enjoy glorious weather, do not forget the sun cream. But importantly, whatever the weather, make sure you find a way to enjoy the festival. You don’t have to cover yourself in the thick mud often found on site, or walk around wearing as little as possible, but it is always good to laugh at whatever Mother Nature provides to accompany the bands.

 

6. Talk to strangers

Possibly the only time I would ever argue against stranger danger. Well not completely, but at festivals everyone becomes much more friendly and connect over the joys of a summer festival. There is so much to bond over: the music, the booze, the crazy sights, figuring out how to put up a tent successfully. Everyone’s festival experience is unique, but it is also shared by all. We walk on the same mud, eat the same food, lose our friends together and for one weekend we are all the same.

 

7. Ignore the festival hipsters

By these I mean the people who have decided who are the best bands to watch, that everyone should go see play, regardless of whether you’ve heard of them or not. I am guilty of this, I do make fun of anyone who checks out Coldplay. But there are so many different bands and musicians across the weekend, and sometimes the only opportunity for you to see someone live. I saw Beyonce perform at Glastonbury, although I never listened to her music and her place at Glasto among all the rock bands and cabaret acts was questioned, but truth be told she was amazing live. Granted she had all the special effects to pull off a top notch performance, whereas brilliant but unheard of bands can only use their sound, but the important thing is that I enjoyed myself. So who cares what everyone else is off to see, choose what you want.

 

8. Go see a band you’ve never heard of before

Despite my complaints about festival hipsters, I do think it is worth anyone’s time to do this last piece of advice. A festival is an amazing way to discover your next favourite band, or a new love for a genre. Pick a band you like the name of, or if the description sounds interesting, or if a band is performing who you’ve always meant to give a listen to but never got round to it. Sometimes the best times are these times, because with no expectations there is no room for disappointment.

 

So these are my own tips, just one more batch to add to the collection. I never feel you can be fully prepared for a festival, because you can never know what to expect. Just ensure that good times will be had, and the best memories will be created.

Thoughts On The F Word

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Recently my sister and her boyfriend came to visit me, and whilst out in the evening they started asking me questions about feminism, and whether I consider myself a feminist. I said of course I do, I want gender equality after all. My sister mentioned she had recently started thinking about feminism, and when I asked her boyfriend if he would consider himself a feminist he seemed scared to answer me. This surprised me: the two are intelligent, reasonable beings who I would have thought to be feminist without question. But as I thought about it, why would it surprise me? Many people are nervous to consider themselves a feminist, for fear of being considered as the college liberal meme, as a promoter of misandry, or just as being crazy.

To put it simply: it is a bloody shame. Why do musicians such as Lana Del Rey, who writes beautiful lyrics about the dangers of love, recently say she is not interested in feminism? Why do our own female friends make jokes about finding a man who can do everything for us? Why does anyone feel that feminism is a dangerous concept that makes women hate men and restricts them to a short list of options that are approved by previous feminists (never marry, never become a housewife etc)- the exact opposite of what it really is?

To me feminism should be, and is, about creating equal opportunities for men and women worldwide. For women to be able to walk alone at night feeling safe. For men to not feel pressured into being the breadwinner of the family: if they want to stay at home with the children, that’s okay. And this is only scratching the surface, there are so many issues faced by many that range from human rights violations to just wanting respect. To explain all this to someone in one evening, or on one post is impossible. I can only be general. But I want to talk about why I think feminism is a brilliant thing. It should be used as an empowerment for both genders to liberate them from any pressures of stereotypes, or of gender assigned roles that do not suit modern society. To give girls the confidence that they do not need the figure of a supermodel or have the facial perfections of a doll. For women to never feel like they owe a man anything- that a drink is not equivalent to the value of their own body.

Feminism should also not exist as a set of orders to follow, and that if you choose otherwise you are a hindrance to womankind. That wanting a family is limiting your own potential as a career woman. If I have kids at any point in my life and I decide to give up my career to raise them, I should do that with pride because they are me, and I will protect them until my last breath. However if I decide that I could never be a mother, that my life’s fulfilment is in a career, I am not an abnormal woman, nor will I have rejected what ‘nature designed for me to do’. Either option, or anything in between, is perfect as long as it makes me happy.

Maybe feminism scares people because it is so unclear. Am I supposed to be like a man? To run the world? To inspire the future generation? To do the school run with perfect hair? To flaunt short skirts or trousers?

Or maybe, just maybe, I am supposed to have the freedom to do what I damn well please.