Ship of Fools. So, they could have played in a freaking Costco and I would have been instantly transported to eighth grade, when my biggest problems were getting my bangs to go the right direction and deciding whether or not I should be the type of girl who wears pointy shoes.
But, it was at The Palladium. And, I used to go there. A lot. Then, I just didn't for a decade. It was closed for awhile, so there was that, but I was also avoiding it. Too many memories. Some good, some really really bad. I'd headed back only twice since they reopened, once for Pixies and once for Belle and Sebastian. Both great shows but neither hit me as hard as Erasure.
I think it was how I was dressed. We were taking the Metro to the venue so I knew I'd be walking over two miles and standing/dancing for a few hours. I wore black Converse high tops so I'd be good to go. As I was tying them before we left, it hit me that I was wearing exactly what I'd always thought of as my "concert uniform." Black shirt, jeans, black eyeliner and either Chucks or Docs, depending on whether there'd be a mosh pit or not. It made me feel a little sheepish to be in my mid-thirties rocking the same look as when I was eighteen but I decided it was funny. I also decided to get drunk.
A couple of vodka/sodas later, I'm walking through the doors of The Palladium marveling at the crowd. There were girls in black tutus and boys in leather pants. Fifty-year-olds wearing wigs and platforms tripped their way to the bar. I felt extremely comfortable, as if I'd safely returned to my home planet after years lost in space. I headed up the stairs to the "Ladies' Lounge." A lot of things have happened to me in the Ladies' Lounge over the years. Once, a woman grabbed me by the shoulders and kissed me on the mouth. Then she and her friends left the bathroom, leaving me to reapply my lipstick and wonder what the hell just happened. Another time, I managed to procure my friend a tampon by offering up a cigarette and a partially completed Subway stamp card. But, the best Palladium bathroom adventure happened with my friend Lisa. (Her name has been changed because, well, you'll see why.)
We were there to see Moby. We were dressed up and giddy. We were also on ecstasy. We headed to the bathroom and I took a stall one down from Lisa. I heard a crazy noise coming from her direction. I washed my hands and then headed over there and realized she was doing this kind of cry-choke noise. She sounded like a really sad duck with its head stuck in a megaphone.
"Lisa, are you okay?" I asked.
"Noooooo," she wailed.
I couldn't imagine why she wasn't okay. We were on a drug designed specifically to make you feel way better than okay. "What's wrong?"
Lisa screamed, "I FORGOT HOW TO PEE!"
The Palladium bathroom went silent.
"Unlock the door," I said. I heard some scraping noises.
"I can't figure it out," she whined.
This is how I figured out that Lisa had taken way more ecstasy than I did, a fact she later admitted.
I crawled under the stall door, thanking the gods that there was quite a bit of room and that I was too happily jacked up to gag. I told Lisa to calm down. I told her that everyone can pee. I made her breathe.
I talked my friend through going number 1, you guys. In case you thought I was a mean horrible person or something, I present exhibit A: I'm a bathroom talker-througher.
I'm sure we were very entertaining to the other gals in the Ladies' Lounge that night.
Then, there was the time that I got beat up in the parking lot. Well, I kind-of got beat up. On the way in to see Filter, my boyfriend at the time made a smart-ass comment to some dudes getting high in a car. This should come as no surprise to anyone who knew my boyfriend at the time. (It wasn't strange for him to infuriate a Vietnam vet at the movies or a mother of two at the grocery store. One tried to hit us with his walker, the other pushed a grocery cart at our car.)
We went inside and had fun. I forgot about the parking lot guys. It was my twenty-fifth birthday and I was looking forward to meeting up with the rest of my friends after the show. Filter wasn't one of my favorite bands but my boyfriend liked them and I was just happy he'd planned something, even if it was something he wanted to do.
We walked back to our car and all of a sudden my boyfriend was on the ground and the big guys were kicking and punching him. I saw one of them holding a broken beer bottle so I jumped on him, in my heels and pleather pants. In my fancy shiny early 2000's birthday corset. The guy picked me up and threw me like I was a wadded up piece of paper. I landed hard on my arms in the gravel.
The police came. The guys were arrested. I couldn't cocktail waitress for weeks because I'd hurt my right arm. (I still have problems with it to this day.) I never made it to my birthday dinner. I had to testify against the guy that threw me that night and ended up putting him away because it was his third strike. I didn't want to. I didn't want to deal with any of it.
I never thought I was traumatized by that night. After all, I wasn't badly hurt and he'd only thrown me, not punched me or shot me or stabbed me. But, I avoided the venue for a long long time. Hearing Filter on the radio or in a bar still makes me feel sick (but that could just be the music). In the end, I broke up with that guy and haven't had an altercation with a stranger since.
The Palladium is back in my rotation and I'm stoked about it. I can guarantee you that no one I'm hanging with these days will forget how to perform basic bodily functions or start fights in parking lots. And, I won't be on anything stronger than vodka. But, I will dance around like a maniac if I want to. In my stupid Converse high tops.