Have you ever been to an event where you can expect certain things to happen? You know what I’m talking about-drunken debauchery at the company holiday party and the subsequent water cooler gossip (‘tis the season, after all), feeling really dumb after one round of trivia at Old King’s Road on Wednesdays, or wishing you’d gone to the gym more when it’s time to get a new swimsuit are some of the things that quickly come to mind.
Such was my mindset when my girlfriend, Jackie, and I headed down to the Tegan and Sara concert in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. These are the ladies of “Walking with a Ghost” radio fame, the Canadian twins known as much for their onstage banter as for their distinct, nasal-twinged brand of pop. They collaborate with rock heavyweights from AFI, Death Cab for Cutie, and Against Me!, and are out-and-proud lesbians who sing achingly of first loves and broken hearts.
Gay Girl/Straight World
We knew we were about to experience a quintessential lesbian event.
When Tegan and Sara came to Santa Barbara last October at the Lobero, gay women came out of the woodwork. Never before in S.B.-not even at the Wildcat on Sundays-have I seen such a concentration of vest-and-tie dressed, faux-hawk styled women. I remember a fellow Indy staffer and show-goer saying she didn’t know so many lesbians existed on the South Coast, and that, were she gay, she’d be in lezzie heaven.
Jackie and I were expecting an evening along the same lines, but forgot that the ante would be upped because we were in L.A. As soon as we entered the venue, we were confronted with a sea of very trendy lesbians. These were not the flannel and tool belt-wielding women of softball tournaments; these were the edgier, skinny-jeans-and-black-eyeliner wearing women who keep in business the companies that manufacture studded belts and pomade.
The concert was right before the election, so everyone had “No on 8” stickers and Barack Obama pins plastered on their American Apparel hoodies and said skinny jeans. As we made our way past the merch booth, we came to the bar, where ladies were lining up for pints of beer as bottles of hard alcohol and mixers sat to the side virtually untouched. At that point, Jackie and I took inventory of the room and counted about 10 men-including two bartenders, the male singer/songwriter who opened up the show, and a drunken gay guy who chastised me for ordering a water since it was a Saturday night.
Walking closer to the stage in between sets, we noticed the room was louder than usual, likely because there were so many women present, all chatting with each other. Couples, couples, and more couples milled around us, which isn’t surprising since lesbians tend to pair off the way animals did to board Noah’s ark-quickly and efficiently. As I looked to my right, two women were talking heatedly against the wall, one gesturing wildly and the other crossing her arms across her chest and occasionally wiping her eyes. You don’t need to know that much about gay women to know that drama and tears are the key elements of any predominantly lesbian affair. Trust me-you just come to expect it.
The show itself was great: Tegan and Sara were witty and self-deprecating as always, and they played a jam-packed two-hour set of old and new songs. Matt Sharp from Weezer came out to play bass during the encore (which made for 11 total males), and the sold-out crowd clapped and sang along to just about every number. By the end of the night, it looked like the arguing/crying ladies had reconciled, and there were lots of people who seemed happy with their CD and T-shirt purchases.
After waiting in line for the bathroom for a good 20 minutes (shocking, I know), I walked out to find Jackie talking to a vaguely familiar dark-haired twenty-something, who I quickly learned was one of her exes. And as we walked to the car, Jackie ran into another ex-girlfriend. In the teeny-tiny world of SoCal lesbians, this wasn’t the least bit surprising. In fact, it was the perfect ending to a classic lesbian event.
Penny Patterson writes an online column about gay life in Santa Barbara called Gay Girl/Straight World. See independent.com/gaygirl for more.