10.08.2012

241 - Skank is a Verb


Do y'all remember the glory days of third-wave ska? AAA, The Aquabats, Save Ferris, The Hippos, Reel Big Fish, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Buck-O-Nine, Dance Hall Crashers, Link 80, Op Ivy, Skankin' Pickle, Voodoo Glow Skulls, etc.?

When I was in high school, there was a punk venue in Chinatown called the CBA. Next door, at The Art Center, they would sometimes have ska shows. Let's Go Bowling was from my hometown, and the kids would show up in checkerboard suspenders and creepers and leopard print hair scarves and cat-eyed glasses and Bettie Page makeup and lunchbox purses and rolled up jeans to skank until we were covered with sweat and you couldn't figure out if it was yours or someone else's. In between sets, kids would go outside to smoke cigarettes and the night wind would freeze the sweat onto your skin, making you shiver straight down to your stolen bowling shoes. The Bouncing Souls played there once, and the whole audience sang along yelling, "We drink beer and wear Adidas!" When The Art Center was finally shut down for lack of dance permits -- cops rushing into the middle of a show, the band standing awkwardly onstage as they pulled the plug, a teenage waif of a punk rock girl yelling "Fuck Police Brutality!" over and over for no reason -- the ska shows moved in next door to the punk venue. The Voodoo Glow Skulls packed the CBA's tiny single room so thoroughly that skanking meant accidentally punch people in the stomach or face. Eventually, the CBA was shut down, too, but the shows never disappeared -- they just moved. Sometimes bands played in pizza parlors after hours, or peoples' back yards.

The last ska show I saw was The Aquabats playing in a dirty but well-sized venue downtown called Big Game. There was no air conditioning at Big Game and Fresno's one-hundred degree night heat wafted in through walls. When the sweat became unbearable, The Aquabats decided to take a break and encouraged everyone to go outside with them for a few minutes to hang out on the sidewalk in the hopes of catching a breeze.

Punk was brooding and angry. We were our politics and our disdain for mainstream culture. Ska was something else. Ska was pure release, turning even our politics into positivity. We sang along with smiles when Operation Ivy played on our shitty tape decks in our shitty cars calling for Unity, and our eyes lit up when someone had the good sense to play Saw Red, the No Doubt and Sublime collab track, at a house party. Ska was our solution to reconciling our contempt for capitalism and inequality with our burning need to enjoy life a little. The older I get, the more that balance seems important, and the more I understand that once in a while, everyone needs to fucking dance.


Indecisive me, I also photographed this outfit in my day-to-day boots: secondhand Steve Maddens via Buffalo Exchange. 

And now, some Operation Ivy to get the nostalgia runnin':

...and here is an Instagram shot of me wearing this outfit in our Tunnel Vision studio (I think you can see my makeup really well in this one):


Follow me on Instagram if you want? @madelinependleton

SPOILER ALERT: There are a lot of pictures of my dogs.