Pop A Top … Over There

September 18, 2006 at 8:01 pm (Attitude in Overdrive, General)

(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.


  1. Zelda said,

    I have fun when I drink sometimes. But there are definite advantages to stone cold sobriety. I am so glad you didn’t end up with that dude.

  2. Seamus said,

    See, if you’d have been drinking you might have fallen off the “soap box”! 😉

    Yay serendipitous sober moments – some part of you knew!

  3. Charmed said,

    Studman’s never been drunk. Me, well…. but I don’t get sloshed now for the very same reason you don’t. I had a close call when I was 19 and don’t ever chose to replay it again. Things are so much more enjoyable when sober anyhow. I’d much rather remember what I did than have to ask what happened!

  4. Jeanette said,

    The most harmful thing I’ve seen you do when intoxicated is a pirouette! 🙂

  5. Vince said,

    Dude! I saw that show when it came to George Mason University! I was living in DC at the time. I heard about Ray Gillen. You probably did dodge a bullet.

    Beleive it or not, I’ve never been drunk. EVER. I don’t like the loss of control. And truthfully, I don’t see the point. If I need alcohol to have a good time, I’m doing something wrong. At concerts, I’m all about the music, whether I’m on stage or in the crowd. Now, there are time’s I’ve gotten a little happy, but never drunk.

    I’m having a little trouble picturing you in the mosh pit at a Pantera concert. That must have been brutal!

  6. Jamie said,

    Interesting. I drink, but usually only when I’m with those I can trust. I always have at least one person with me who can stay sober enough to take care of me!

    And I do the same when it’s my turn. Besides, I’m very rarely in a situation I wouldn’t want to be in sober, too. Rarely, but not never. So your right, but I still have no regrets. Luckily for me the worst I’ve caught has been pregnant! I’m a lot more careful in my old age!

  7. Beth said,

    Yeah, but you’re wiser now, and far more capable of picking good friends who’ll look after you if you’ve had too much to drink. If you ever need/want a designated driver, I’ll be glad to find someone for you. Not me though, cause I’ll be right there drinking with ya.

    So, cheers! To dodging bullets!

  8. kenju said,

    Inanna, I wish every highschool and college girl could read and heed this post! Heck, I wish I had read it back then….LOL. I didn’t have to contend with the possibility of AIDS, but there were other horrors out there and I am so glad I dodged all the bullets (There but for the grace of…….)

  9. boo said,

    I sing…really loud…when drinking. Remember I said I sing loud…never said I can sing pretty.

    So glad you dodged that bullet.

  10. Inanna said,

    Zelda, I have the most fun when I’m with friends from TX.

    Seamus, someone was definitely looking out for me!

    Angi, good point. I like remembering everything.

    Jeanette, and I have a mean pirouette!

    Vince, I love it when peeps have seen the same shows I have! The mosh pit was brutal but I came out if with minimal scars.

    Jamie, I learned a long time ago to stick close to good friends when I do drink and to have a sober driver.

    Beth, always a good thing to have a DD and a Nanner to have fun with.

    Kenju, I wish a lot of peeps could learn that valuable lesson or just be self aware!

    Boo, singing, even poorly, makes me happy!

  11. Esther said,

    I do have a tendency to get undressed when drunk, and then promptly fall asleep. There’s some cringeworthy experiences in my past.

  12. cybele said,

    Until I get to stumbling around, me drunk is hardly any different from me sober. Still, my friends think I’m fun when I’m drunk. I’m not sure why. I ABSOLUTELY only drink when I’m with people I trust to take care of me. Nice bullet-dodging, Neo.

  13. Celti said,

    *whew* Good move! Ironically enough, I’m thinking of posting about alcohol today, too. Hmmm.

  14. Susanne said,

    Good for you hun!! I sing all the time – and it gets worse and worse LOL

    I’ve been drunk once. Only once. Never again. Period.


  15. Tina said,

    Yes I do remember that show, dude. I don’t remember the details regarding the “invite” from Ray though. I just remember something about you being invited backstage. Didn’t we “camp out” for tickets to that show in the Huntington Civic Center parking lot? This was LONG before you could order tickets on the internet and “camping out” for concert tickets was a cool thing to do. 😉

    Hell don’t get me started on getting drunk, I have done that WAY too many times!

    Looking back on that show I am glad you didn’t go backstage. I don’t really remember what my reaction was to the situation at the time. Knowing me I would of probably taken him up on his offer. Then again I didn’t wear suggestive clothing. 😉 When I heard Ray Gillen died from AIDS I thought about that show, and how you almost “went” there. :-/

    It was the late 80’s when hard rock was all about getting laid, drinking, and raising hell. This was RIGHT before the onslaught of “grunge” and rock and roll going from “Let’s get LAID and party, dude!” to “My life sucks..the world sucks.”

    Now I think it’s a little less “my life sucks” and more about breakups and relationships and how guys screw us over. Then again I listen to WAY too many *angry bitch bands!” 😉

  16. Julie said,

    It took quite a few years, but I’ve learned when to stop drinking. I can now drink until I am rip-roaring happy, but can stop before I hit the “bedspins, this is going to be bad later” part of the festivities. And I always, always, always, drink with people I can trust to help me stay out of trouble and get me home in one piece.

    Drinking is a lot nicer now that I don’t have the blackouts and spend hours over the toilet afterwards…

  17. Michael said,

    Lowering of inhibitions = lowering of pants.

  18. restless angel said,

    Def. glad you didn’t go backstage….

    If I drink, all I want is a good buzz. Still aware and in control, still havin’ a good time. That, and I don’t get hungover, 🙂

  19. brighton said,

    Ok, unless your drinking with me in Texas- then you are totally safe!! BTW, when is your next visit down, I’m thirsty!!

  20. Tina said,

    Like Nanner, I don’t need booze to get into trouble or lower my inhibitions. I do enough of that sober! 🙂

  21. Heather said,

    My sister and I ran into Ray and Eric (Singer) after their show in Chicago, I think it was October 1989? We had just met Great White after the show and my roadie friend told us Tesla (who also played that night) was at The Drake. We zoomed over there, just missed them. We decided to go to The Bridge, a bar on Division. As we were going in we saw two familiar guys behind us. “Hey we know you!” one of us said. It was Ray and Eric. They hung out at the bar. Ray had a gorgeous teal or turqouise fringed suede jacket. We went to dance. Ray told us they were staying at (I think it was) The Quality Inn so we drove over there. Honestly – no dirty groupie intentions whatsoever! Ray did show an interest in my sister and he invited her to help him with his laundry lol. I sat on Ray’s twin bed while Eric read a magazine and watched TV. I didn’t want to bother him with questions, although I did want to ask him some things, but he just performed and didn’t talk at all the whole night so I just sat there. Ray and my sister came back and we talked a little and Ray gave me a peck on the cheek. He also told us to listen for a band called Soundgarden as they were really good. I got his autograph, unfortunately we didn’t bring cameras.
    Luckily, my sister didn’t fool around with him (we were really not dirty groupies!) – and we had no such thoughts on our minds when we decided to hang out there.
    I really loved Badlands and Ray had an amazing voice. He also seemed to be a really nice guy.

  22. Heather said,

    Wanted to clarify – Eric had just performed in concert and I figured he was tired and just wanted to relax.

  23. Duane said,

    Ray died December 1, 1993, not December 3rd.

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