When dancing is a brawling

I went to the Repressed Records show for Vivid at the Opera House on Saturday (May 23) night. I was in the front row.

You can read about who played and what the whole thing was about here and here and see some great photos here.

And there’s a nice write up of it here and here.

When Royal Headache hit the stage there was a genuine outpouring of joy. As my friend Sam says, the only person is Sydney that thinks Royal Headache aren’t any good is the lead singer Shogun. They mean a lot to a lot of people.

This is what a Royal Headache show looks like.

About half a dozen songs in some friends of the band jumped up on stage to dance to the glory that is Down the Lane. Then more people got up. Then there was about 100 people. Dancing. Then the cops came. You can watch what happens here.

The cops make this into a confrontation when there was nothing happening that required cops. There’s no doubt that some of the cops here were looking for a confrontation.

This is a common experience for anyone doing stuff in public like protesting. It takes the presence of cops to turn something ugly. Not the presence of the protesters. Or dancers.

The way this has been reported has been a lesson in observing the way distortion happens in the media. It was at first reported as a brawl. Which it certainly was not…

It was then reported on the same station an hour later with a bit more balance, something like bemusement.

Two days later more balanced takes on the event surface.

From all accounts, the Opera House staff did not call the cops. From The Guardian:

“When asked why police joined security to manage the situation, the Opera House said:         “The police were not called by the Opera House. Police officers were already on site                conducting routine patrols. They became aware of the security response and joined              them.””

As Ryansaar noted:

“Afterwards, I overheard an officer bragging, “Yeah bro, I was just grabbing as many             cunts as I could and throwing them off the stage”. Of course, you can understand                   where the Opera House is coming from – it’s a nice venue, and they don’t want                       anything to be trashed, fair enough. But instead of leaning into the ear of the band,               and giving a “Hey mates, reckon you could just tell everyone to relax, and hop down?           We’ve got a bond on this place!”, they dealt with the situation with the deft skill of                 Jason Voorhees trying to have a casual hang out with teenagers.”

The transgression of what usually happens in a space like the Opera House was predictable when punk bands play who are from a scene where they prefer there to be no deferential space between band and punters. A ‘high culture’ venue like the Opera House would find the punk attitude of no distance between producer and consumer just plain weird. But high culture venues now need to embrace popular culture to survive economically.

Will Repressed Records or RIP Society get a chance to do something like this again? There were 1200 people at this gig, a huge success at any level. Vivid obviously wants to support local stuff and the whole thing lends Vivid some cutting edge cred that the likes of Sufjan and Morrissey lost years ago. So, the aftermath of this will be interesting…


About steventhreadgold

I'm a sociologist at the University of Newcastle. I will be posting various thoughts on stuff here, mostly based on my research with young people about issues around inequality and class, DIY cultures and music.
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