I started this with my usual rambley preamble and I kind of wanted to pull my hair out, screaming to just get to the point. So, let me put it simply and the rest of this can do the talking. Love what makes you happy, don’t try and be cool and shape your interests to please some aesthetic bullshit. It’s cool to be into things. What’s more, being passionate is super hot and a major turn on, just sayin’. It’s not cool to be negative and hateful. If it brings someone joy, if it acts as a lifeline, gives them an escape — who are you to judge?
29th October 2017
Standing in a room filled with liberal young minds, the sometimes messy fanbase of One Direction’s now solo Harry Styles, I’m at home. In the intimate setting of Hammersmith Apollo, there is a closeness in me I haven’t felt before, to a man I owe so much to, who will probably never understand the colossal ways in which he guides his fans through life. It’s cringey, I know and One Direction most certainly aren’t the ideal band to be the ones doing the saving. But they’ve provided a comfort blanket for me ever since I got more sucked into the vortex of them whilst in my first year at uni. The first time I saw them (documented all those years ago and now made private and viewable for your own entertainment) I was so consumed in how it made me feel to see a band I loved so much in the flesh. How odd it was, how exposed I felt almost even though there was no way they could see me amongst the tens of thousands of people.
I’m under no allusion Harry will see me now in a room of 5,000, considerably less than the venues I’ve seen him prancing around before with the rest of his bandmates. But it feels special to be in such close quarters, to be able to see his 100 watt smile and gorgeous, wanna-run-my-hands-through-it perfectly coifed, perfectly curly hair in 4K Ultra High Definition. Or not, as the case may be. More like my not even close, not even 20/20 vision. But he’s right there and he’s singing music that seems so true to him, void of the usual commercial quirks. Living his best life sounding like the greats. Fleetwood Mac, Bowie, Elton John. All with his usual, slightly flamboyant, flare. And we’re right there with him, waving Pride flags, an inclusive crowd of people who love for the sake of how good it feels and not all the complications that seem to come with something that should be so simple these days.
It felt like such a safe place. To be surrounded by people who quite clearly do not care what it means for street cred or whatever, dancing hard to a slightly rockier rendition of ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, as if we haven’t danced to it a thousand times previously sang by fresh faced 1D boys. The evening was special. It was as if we could be anyone and that we were this one body, this one thing that was so beyond the realms of just happy to be sharing this space. With everything that’s happened, the tragic, horrific ways in which music has been invaded by acts of senselessness. This was a tribute to them, to what music should always be. An escape, a place you could throw caution to the wind and dance. In that moment, it was not caring, not being afraid.
11th January 2018
Music kind of brought this moment together. Actually, there’s no kind of about it. It did. Because Paramore are my sister’s favourite band and, once upon a time, we used to share a bedroom. And whilst some of her more severe music choices used to cast actual fear in my heart, this is a band that stuck and that I, not quite to the same degree as my sister, fell a little bit in love with. All these years later, I’d never managed to see them live. But after one failed attempt to get tickets to their Bristol gig, I was taking my sister to Cardiff.
It was so beyond special, not least because of Hayley Williams’ kickass dance moves and the fact I, right then and there, developed a bit of a girl crush on her and her swaying hips and high kicks. Not only that, but because I experienced that sense of unity again. Not so much with the crowd that surrounded me, because they actually all felt very different to me, but this close bond of two sisters sharing something really exciting and meaningful together.
My sister’s life is tough and draining and she rarely has the time to have fun, just her, without thinking of the other people who rely on her, namely her husband and little girl. Watching her carefree, head banging, hair cascading around her face, was liberating for me. In a moment of utter bliss, she was transported back to a time where she would queue hours in the freezing cold just so she could be jammed against the barrier right at the front, ribs left bruised but totally worth it. And as Paramore played their most iconic, old school songs, she was there again and by securing those tickets, I felt like I was responsible for this moment of exhale in her life.
These feelings! These are the reasons why you should fearless in the face of what you love. Because it brings such a surge of utter happiness and contentment. You feel, perhaps for one snapshot of time, completely at home in who and where you are. I guess you could say I don’t believe in the idea of guilty pleasures, then. If it gives you a spark, don’t invalidate it as something to feel embarrassed about. Switch on the news and there’s enough things to feel grim about. For goodness sake, be unapologetic in what you love.