Over the weekend I flew to New York with my boyfriend, the lead singer of legendary LA hardcore band Strife, to attend a two-day festival at Webster Hall, which he was invited to be a part of. As the title of this article indicates, today’s tutorial is about how to blend in at said show as a 26-year-old-half-Jewish girl who knows nothing about hardcore music, and whose boyfriend is the well-respected frontman of a band that’s been around in that highly-principled world for more than two decades. To be fair, I know little-to-nothing about hardcore. The first concert I ever went to was Spice Girls, and my adolescent idea of rebellion was more about cocaine and anorexia than wearing black, spiking my hair, and taking public transportation to Agnostic Front shows (see, I’m not completely ignorant). This title is a little bit misleading, because I’m pretty sure I stood out more glaringly than a black male model in a J.Crew catalog. Despite the fact that I was wearing tie-dye while everyone else was dressed in all black or camo, and despite the fact that I was in diapers when most of the festival attendees were being arrested for graffiti, and despite the fact that the average concert-goer was pushing 350 lbs, had a shaved head, and was fully decorated with face tats that may or may not symbolize having killed a man, I think I made it work in my favor, and managed to not get my J.Brand-wearing ass kicked. I’ll be honest, I think I even walked away with a few new friends, or at least three people that are good to know if I ever end up “on the inside.” It’s amazing the things you learn when you put aside your preconceived notions and spark up conversations with people you’d ordinarily cross the street to avoid.

Here are my tips for “blending in,” or rather, standing out in a charming-and-not-obnoxious kind of way, while at a hardcore show put on by old-school New York tough guys who basically pioneered East Coast hardcore. I hope this article doesn’t get me killed. I’m only sort of serious.

1) Tell your nice new friend who is maybe nicknamed something vaguely related to gunplay that you like his face tattoos. Follow up by telling him how much you love tattoos, and that you have a few of your own, including one of a humpback whale, and also one of your dad’s middle name, which is Moses.

2) Ask your nice new friend what his birth name is. (I’ll never tell.)

3) Do not flinch when you accidentally cross paths with a 300 pound man doing bumps of cocaine off of his hand in a stairwell.

4) When a large man wearing a motorcycle vest with the acronym for his crew on it wants to show you cell phone photos of his adorable bunnies that he raises on his property in upstate New York, always oblige him.

5) When a large man wearing a motorcycle vest with the acronym for his crew on it goes too far as he’s scrolling through his iPhone gallery and you accidentally see a picture of him double-fisting automatic weapons at his country home shooting range, smile and pretend you did not see anything.

6) Ask a large man wearing a motorcycle vest with the acronym for his crew on it to pose for a photo with your drunk Australian friend and then post the picture all over Instagram with the hashtag “besties.” #besties.

7) When a bartender mixes up your drink order and gives you an extra vodka that you are far too drunk to drink, kindly offer it to a large man wearing a motorcycle vest with the acronym for his crew on it. Although he vehemently believes that vodka is for bitches and pussies, he will wisely not refuse the free alcohol, and more importantly, he’ll remember your generosity in case you ever need him to beat someone up for you.

8) Introduce yourself to everyone as a “Strife Wife” and then wave across the room at your significant other who is doing pre-show stretching.

9) When your boyfriend (the lead singer) is banging his fists into metal lockers in preparation of taking the stage, try not to embarrass him by saying in your cooiest and naggiest baby voice, “Honey, don’t hurt yourself!”

10) End the night by politely excusing yourself because you have to go meet your private school friends from your suburban middle school for pizza at an overpriced yuppie establishment. Walk away unscathed and with a new (mostly imagined) sense of street cred.

Jane Helpern

About Jane Helpern

Writer & Over-sharer. @janeohelp jane@cultistzine.com