(Kinda long, but worth it, IMHO)
I don’t drink when I go to concerts. Well, unless it’s a club setting, case in point, Regatta two weeks ago, but I keep it real and I normally sweat it out. If I travel further than 15 miles away, I don’t drink at all and I don’t miss it.
I have several reasons:
Personal Safety: I could not have survived the mosh pit at Skid Row/Pantera had I been drinking. Being unsteady on your feet just isn’t a good idea in a sea of people pushing and shoving. It’s normally hot, stuffy, and sweaty, even before the show starts, and given how hard I rock out, I’m soaked by the end of the show. Alcohol dehydrates you and you have to endure more trips to swamp juice toilets. No thanks.
Cops: ‘Nuff said.
Driving: ‘Nuff said.
Injuries: I witnessed a girl almost fall face first down the steps at the amphitheater because she was so drunk she couldn’t navigate properly. She ended up sitting beside of me, which I was grateful for. Remind me to tell the “sliding in puke” story. No, it wasn’t me who did the puking, nor the sliding.
But my NUMBER ONE reason is:
It Lowers Inhibitions: You do stupid stuff. I do enough stupid, crazy shit without drinking so why unleash the beast? The energy of a crowd pumps me up, the music vibrates through my blood. Why do I need anything else? Trust me, I don’t need a six pack to flash breast under the right circumstances.
And here’s why I’m so very grateful I don’t drink at concerts. Fall of 1989, Badlands, Tesla, and Great White were in a town near here and it was going to be my first show since my return from Germany (Beanie, do you remember?).
For some reason, I wore a pink tank top, easy to pick out in a sea of black t-shirts. The great vocalist Ray Gillen was there as lead singer of Badlands. (He also sang with Black Sabbath). He was all over the place that day, signing autographs, posing for pictures, chatting folks up. I’ve always said, “If you were there, you HAD to meet Ray.”
Very down to Earth, funny, sweet, no “rock star” persona, until he went behind the barricade. One of the roadies had a remote control car and he was playing with it and ran it over to where I was standing. There was a note on top that read – To the girl in the pink shirt – it pays to be different sometimes.
It was an invite backstage. An invite from Ray Gillen to go backstage. “NO” flashed in neon lights in front of my eyes. I was 18 years old but still very inexperienced, hell, still a virgin, and here was an opportunity to cut sexual teeth on Ray Gillen. (Please, it was the 80’s – do you think he wanted to play air hockey?). Even as inexperienced as I was, I recognized the look of a salivating wolf. Ray had a way about him. He was beautiful, he had an incredible voice, sexy, and I said, “No.”
Knowing myself as I do, rebellious by nature, sexual, and generally headstrong and independent, and eager to find out what sex was all about, had I been under the influence of alcohol, or even drugs for that matter, I believe I would have jumped over that barricade and ran damn straight into trouble.
Things happen when you’re drunk. You get talked into shit. Shit happens you may not be ready for, emotionally or physically. It has consequences.
In this case, Ray was a bit incredulous but also gracious and I still smile when I think of him.
Some of you probably know why I was so grateful that I didn’t go backstage. Why I heeded the warning. Why I was grateful I was STONE COLD SOBER.
Ray Gillen died of AIDS related complications December 3, 1993. There is no doubt in my mind that he was HIV positive in the Fall of 1989. The rumors of his infection started in 1990. No doubt folks, I have no doubt, I dodged a bullet by being sober.
After writing this, I still can’t figure out why I touch the stuff, because for all my good experiences when I was sooo glad I hadn’t drank, there are equally as many times I WISHED I hadn’t. I’ve dodged just as many bullets in that direction.
I’ll get off whatever soapbox I ended up on. Be safe.