Perspective from an excluded teen / HBAF19 / 25 October / By Lief Rock
Adrenaline pumped through my veins as I slipped into my most comfy dancing clothes, checking myself in the mirror and my clock every few seconds. Then it was time and I was out my bedroom door like a flash shouting at my poor, tired dad to hurry up, giving him a beanie for his receding hairline. We were off, the car spraying stones as it flew out of the driveway and onto the road heading to my favourite place over the last few days to a free-for-all, general admission, DJ dance party in the Victoria Spiegeltent.
We arrived to a strobe-lit tent and the pulsating thrum of music, warm and welcoming. There were families all around flowing in through the festival gates, school friends, a hubbub of people talking excitedly. I went over to my friend Noah (also 15) who had also made the journey from out of town for The Get Down.
Then out of the corner of my eye I saw him, the one that didn’t look like he was ready to party, the one with ‘security’ written on his jacket. He was talking to Noah’s parents, and doubt crept into my stomach, those butterflies of excitement suddenly flying away. The security guy stopped me and said, “ID, please, this is an eighteen-plus event.” I couldn’t believe it. I ran back to my dad, who was still in the car, and told him. He came to check with me, but alas, it was definitely restricted eighteen, even with accompanying parents.
The advertised GA event was now a last-minute R18 venue due to alcohol licencing because apparently there’s too much danger of underage drinking. The irony is I was able to buy a ticket to the next night’s gig, even though it’s in the same venue with the same alcohol licensing. I guess it’s different if you pay.
This was a free event that was probably appealing to most teens and families; a chance to dance that’s not often available to us here in Hawke’ Bay. An arts festival is not a hub where teenagers would normally come of their own free will, so this was such a lost opportunity to open the festival up to people my age. As always, the adults have to ruin things (like the planet and all things fun). Dancing should be for all. But because they’re incapable of dancing without drinking, or unwilling to sacrifice their addictions for the greater good, we are excluded. And then they tell us they are concerned about our drinking culture and the effects of alcohol on youth. But this R18 business is teaching us that you can’t have a good time without getting pissed, so is it any wonder?
So I went home sitting quietly with the radio playing some Leonard Cohen song reminiscing on what had just happened and the injustice of it all. I went into my room and set up my disco lights, put on Eminem and tried to “lose myself” in the music, but it was a lame attempt and the CD kept skipping. In the end I gave up and went to bed. So much for The Get Down. It got me down for sure.
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