Kickstart My Water: Sober Fun and Hair Metal

PLAINFIELD– Last night, I tried something different.

I arrived EARLY to see Hairbangers Ball at Nevin’s Brewing Company, knowing that the venue would be packed! Even 40 minutes early, the parking lot was about 75 percent full — I was at the other end of the strip mall. I had tried to round up a few girls to go, but no dice. One was just starting a new job this weekend, another is a mom and her son had a cold, and the other friend had plans for a Sox game. That’s life in your 30’s!

So I went anyway and spied a couple local friends from J-town, Raychul and Jose. I said hello, we had a brief convo, and then I returned to my coveted spot front and stage left. They didn’t want to be that close to the stage, and I didn’t see them again. But my commitment to the location paid off, because soon after I met a group of three women, who stood to the left of me. They were right at the corner of the stage. They introduced themselves as Melanie, Roxanne, and Julie. And while at first I felt like the 4th wheel as they took pictures and I stood there, by the time of the first set break, they were including me.

I told them I was heading for a bathroom break, and was happily surprised that when I returned, Melanie had saved my spot. She stepped aside and I resumed my place. Then we began to talk a bit more, and I found out these ladies go to shows all the time– a lot of different bands. Other tribute bands, but also classic arena acts like Bon Jovi, Journey, and the solo Bret Michaels. But unlike a lot of the women I usually see at Hairbanger shows, these ladies were had no agenda other than to have fun and enjoy the music, which was a relief to me! They weren’t getting wasted, either, which was a nice surprise. They were dressed cute but not popping out of their outfits. They were all nice, but Melanie and I bonded and took a few pictures together. First with my phone, then with hers.

The stand-out moment for me was into the second set, when I had gotten myself a water and set it on the stage. I noticed three other waters next to mine!

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Usually I have a blast at shows but feel a bit left out since I seem to be the only sober person in the room at times, although I’m sure there are other teetotalers. But I’m usually surrounded by people with beers, watching the band take shots onstage. I feel a bit left out of the “party” element of the show.

Not this time! I made a joke and after I took a picture of our waters, she did the same with her camera too, laughing. Then we had the idea to take pictures of us with our waters, which had us cracking up!

During the second set when lead singer Sakk Wylde presented me with Kidd Khaos’ drumstick, they got all excited for me! It just made the moment that much better. When I go to shows solo I always find someone to hang out with, but usually I just dance with them a bit and we never talk, or it’s just for a few songs– and then I might move to a different spot and interact with more people.

This show was great because at the beginning I met some fun women and we hung out together all night! I stayed till close, which I haven’t done in a long time because these days I try to get to bed earlier even on weekends! But I was having so much I just forgot about leaving. After the show, Melanie gave me her number so we can hang out and go to more shows. Sweet!

I always have fun going to shows alone but it’s always nice to meet more people who dig the same band you do.

And of course, I decided to wear my fanny pack. What better place than to see an 80’s hair metal tribute band? I was hoping to make some progress on my Fanny Pack Challenge to interact with strangers and take pictures with them wearing the fanny pack. But once I got there, I mostly forgot about it! It was infinitely more comfortable than my usual purse, so I may make this a habit! I’m a little curious to see how long it would take someone to comment on it, if they ever do. The most hilarious observation so far in my experiences is that it seems there’s nothing noteworthy about my wearing a fanny pack. People either think nothing of it, or they’re making fun of me at a safe distance!

I didn’t stay too long after the show ended, but I count the night as a total success. I got to say hi to the band too and was psyched to see Polly Pantz there as well! I miss seeing her onstage and it’s always a treat when she’s there.

Final thought: don’t be afraid to go out alone to see a band if your friends are busy! Make up your mind it’s going to be a great night, and you just might meet some other fun people just like you to talk to between songs and take stupid pictures with together.

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