Sunday, September 25, 2005

Some Kids Need a Thrashing

You know, some weeks I can blog like crazy, others I just can't get near the computer. This week has been one of those weeks.

Today I let my daughter Camie and her friend go the Underground Cafe.

What is the Underground Cafe, you ask? It's a rock-and-roll concert hall, out in Roseville, specializing in mostly local bands on the burgeoning Sacramento area music scene. They run shows about 3-4 nights a week, usually attended by scores of tight-black jean and black t-shirt clad high-schoolers, with a smattering of 20-somethings thrown in for good measure. The music is loud, the lyrics can usually be described as a highly distorted "yaaaaarrrrgggghhhh", and the dancing can be dangerous (more on that in a moment).

So why in the world would I let my precious little girl attend such a place?

Because, to get the whole picture, you have to understand that the Underground Cafe is in the Valley Springs Presbyterian Church. Yes, IN the church. It's an outreach/ministry of sorts, that lets kids gather in a relatively safe environment to hack out viscous chords, throat curdling screams, and "hardcore dance" (which is essentially windmilling your arms about as quickly as you can while thrashing your body back and forth, without actually injuring yourself or hitting anyone else... well, ok... occasionally hitting someone else).

It's not a Christian activity, per se. There are often Christian bands that play; just often they are not, but it is an environment supervised and shepherded by Christian members of the Church. Security is tight but not overwhelming to where kids can't be kids, but neither are they allowed to get completely out of hand. Kids gather, have a fun time, drink come coffee drinks, work up a sweat dancing, and go home.

So, I let Camie and her friend go today. My eldest, Emily, picked them up and drove them over at 2:00. I was going to pick them up at 6:00, after I got off work, but it worked out that I was at the Underground much earlier, around 5:15, so I decided this was a good time, as a parent, to step inside the belly of the beast and see what it was all about.

I was dressed appropriately, almost. I was still wearing by black pants and black shirt from work, but the shirt has a little Sheriff's emblem on it, which stood out and got plenty of quick glances. Definitely NOT the typical attire for this place, but I didn't care.

I surprised my daughter by showing up, but she and her friend her just chilling in the cafe with a friend, chatting while some band played in the room next door. I went in and checked out a couple of bands. All of them had unintelligible lyrics (if indeed they had lyrics at all beyond "yaaaaaaaaarrrrggghhh") and very loud guitars and drums.

A few teenage boys started "thrashing" or "moshing" as the little tykes call it. It was the funniest/strangest thing I've ever seen.

The boys were bobbing to the music, shaking their heads, when one of them bumped another. Well, that kid bumped back. The first kid bumped back, harder.

Then it was like a strange chemical chain reaction where, within seconds, teenage nuclear-fission took place, and 15 boys were bouncing off each other and pushing each other wildly to the beat of the music, like bowling pins that just flew off in 10 different directions after being hit by a speeding bowling ball. Instantly, four security guys stood up, crossed their arms, and watched the melee spend itself out, and after about 30 seconds, the kids just simmered down, like someone turned the fire down under a boiling pot of water.

They went back to watching the show as if nothing had happened.

I laughed so hard. I loved it.

If the bands had played actual musical songs I would have loved it even better. Loud is fine with me. Loud guitars and drums even better. Pointlessness in music is a drag.

But I guess there is an audience for this music, and someone buys CDs when they are produced... I think.

But I stray. The point is, this is a cool little spot for teenagers to gather, hear some hardcore/thrash/metal.... whatever it's called nowadays.... and have fun. I was a bit dubious when I first heard about the place, but I'm impressed now that I've seen it and experienced it.

You gotta trust your kids, and trust them to behave, because anywhere kids mingle there is the potential for trouble, but if your kids need an outlet for their thrashing ways, this isn't a bad outlet.

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