I went to Emo Night at Orange Ale House yesterday and fucking loved it.
I didn't consider myself an "emo kid" in the genre's heyday. I used to make fun of it, and pop punk, while rationalizing that the music I liked wasn't actually in that category. It was part of the whole "I'm into metal and emo is just flimsy tin foil" mentality. In hindsight, it was so silly to be elitist about. I love a variety of music, but there are three appeals of emo and pop punk (for me): the nostalgia, the surrounding community that bonds over it, and the fact that the lyrics are melodramatically angsty but the songs are upbeat and energetic.
I was happy to see the variety of ages. There were people in their thirties who remembered Good Charlotte and Death Cab for Cutie. There were the 22-year-olds screaming along to Paramore. There was music I remember from eighth grade. It spanned from the early to late 2000s. Some people dressed up. Others were people who used to wear fishnet shirts and Chuck Taylors, but still love the scene even if they don't sport the style anymore. It's more about the music and social bonds than the clothes. We came of age in the time when scene first reared its shaggy bleached head, and you had to drape your hair over one eye because the world was too sad to look at with both.
I saw so many people I knew. We were all bouncing in a continuous wave while skeletons and mummies danced over the projection screen. People wore glow necklaces as halos. We passed around a microphone and yelled into it together. Those unfamiliar with this subculture might think it's confusing how the lyrics "I can fall asleep tonight or die, because you kill me" could be sung with such joy.
Experiences like that are unique because you're in a crowded space with everyone talking, but you know what they're all saying. You're speaking the same words, but the lyrics mean something different to everyone. "There's a story at the bottom of this bottle" could remind someone of booze-fueled open mic nights, while reminding somebody else of soda bottles they stored money in as a child. Everyone has their own story at the bottom of a different bottle, and all of these bottles are floating in one wave, mixing their contents.
At some point during the night, a guy tried to pick me up by saying, "You look sad. What's the matter?" I bet that's his designated line to use at emo night. My sister told me, "That's not negging; it's therapisting."
One time the music stopped and a host yelled, "Here's something to dry these emo tears!" and then showered us with streamers and Silly String.
When I went into the room with all the music, Mike worried I'd been swallowed by the crowd. Then he saw that I loved it. Any night that ends with me jumping up and down and covered in Silly String is a good one.