It is fine to change your mind if it is in an effort to Be More Kind.
“It was really cold, I didn’t like the film” – pick n mix – hands up, 2018
At hands up, we’re all a little bit out-to-lunch on winter and Christmas. We don’t hate them, we don’t love them. Being forced into either the X or Y camp on anything might seem en vogue right now but life is far more multifaceted and complex than that. It’s too easy to choose in binaries, so we won’t.
Here’s what we find difficult at that time of year: nostalgia, SAD (seasonal affective disorder), hyper-commercialism and some people’s complicity in the presentation of fake contentment.
It’s not all negatives, but those things are problematic and we find it hard to approach hands upwith the fun, positive playground pop-punk enthusiasm at that time of year.
Last year we thought we’d try and do something about that. We planned a punk rock summer party show with some pals with the tag line – ‘it’s cold and Christmas is coming, wish you weren’t here!’. A little goofy, a little silly, a lot of fun for us. Very hands up.
Creativity was flowing for what the show could be like; images of surfing, beach towels, cocktails, palm trees, Hawaiian patterned shirts, shorts, flip flops… “wait! This is a Luau” somebody says.
“A Punk Rock Luau” says someone else.
Within days we launched promo for the event named “PUNK ROCK LUAU”.
Someone posted a response comment in the event’s facebook page. It was a link to an article about the cultural appropriation of Hawaiian culture, (this is the article; https://reporter.rit.edu/views/hawaiian-culture-not-theme).
We all saw the link and the article headline. Anger was our initial response, we’re all male and sadly that emotional response is the one we have been taught to show the most. Don’t worry we’re all working on that and we’re all getting better. Like this story does.
We couldn’t understand the problem though, we strive hard for an inclusive local music scene. We put on charity shows and ensure that the bills have an equal amount of male and female/non-binary performers on them. We have a growing fan base that includes proud lgbt+ young people. We look to encourage venues have our shows all-ages. We live in east Kent and our communities are filled with people from diverse immigrant backgrounds. We want inclusivity. Everybody is welcome. Why is this stranger picking on us because we’re having a party? Luau is just Hawaiian for party. I want to tell this stranger what for; or just ignore this whole situation… Stop. Wait. Think. Read the article. Think.
What was clear is that we hadn’t considered it to be a problem. It never came up. This is because we’re in a privileged position. This stranger wanted to ask if we’d thought about how that may make some people feel. We hadn’t. We’ve never even been to Hawaii. None of us. To us, this was just a party theme. I respectfully discussed with that online stranger the amendments we were making and they thanked us for taking it seriously.
So we made minor changes.
It would be a called Punk Rock Party. A Summer / Beach party theme. No luau, no leis, no hula skirts. Still goofy, still fun, still the ‘get away from Christmas’ we were all looking forward to playing.
The show was well attended and we had a blast! People wore shorts! Jim Played in flip flops (never again, apparently). Our buddy Tom ruined it by bringing Christmas crackers! (I know! To a beach party, right?) The online stranger may have even been there. If they were or not, we hope they felt respected and that they felt welcomed, and that they could access the show if they had wanted to.
Crucially was it difficult to change something about our band because we became aware of how it made somebody feel? Not that difficult at all. Not when we were interested and we discussed it non-judgmentally with each other and new people to learn and grow.
By Ben WQ
With support from Jim, Oli and Rob