It was 1983 and I slipped Virginia a note in between classes. Virginia was the perfect friend; she was a cool senior, 2 years older than me, loved going to shows, loved to party, liked my sorry ass and had a car— a beautiful beat up Dodge Rambler I have forever since wished my own. My brother’s band was opening for The Dead Kennedys on Saturday night in Portland and we had to go. Before slipping around the corner at the end of the long corridor Virginia turned around, smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Spectacular.
The place had been oversold by probably 100. It was a cool April night but the air inside of the venue was stale, hot and muggy, and even though we were comfortably inebriated, I could taste others’ breath in the air. Virginia and I had stayed up front in between bands to make sure to get a good spot and as soon as the Dead Kennedys came on stage, the crowd surged. I couldn’t. Fucking. Breathe. The masses emptied my lungs like an asthma attack and at the end of the song, Jello Biafra took pity on our poor souls and told the crowd to move back; he said something to the effect of, “Sardines have feelings too.” The pressure eased enough to catch my breath but was quickly knocked out when the next song started.
I motioned to Virginia to try and make our way to the side, but neither of us could literally move. Thrashing my body freed a small space between me and the guy next to me, and I grabbed his shoulder and the stage to boost myself up. Once on stage I could see that the venue was packed all the way back to the doors and although I was in a completely different predicament, at least now I could breathe. The energy was amazing and I inhaled the humid mojo from the best seat in the house. I stood on stage for what must have been a significant span of time as Biafra eventually approached and yelled, “either you jump off sweetie, or I’ll push you off.” I had no choice. I knew my best bet was to dive as far back as I could to try and get to calmer waters, and although I had seen this hundreds of times, I myself had never stage dived. The moment was exhilarating. Absorbing every ounce of the moment, I did a little joyous skank and dove high off the stage into a thick milieu of sweaty punks.