People are always asking me what it is like to be clean in our scene. They wonder how I feel amidst the rage, curious as to how I stay awake. I cherish the organic pleasures of the beats through my soul. Jams creatively layered with the sounds of multiple instruments evoke special feelings in my spirit. These emotions can’t adequately be explained in words. Perhaps my imagination travels to a far corner of the earth or perhaps I get the feeling that everything in the world is exactly as it’s supposed to be. When a nasty jam gives me goose bumps, I find myself looking up to the sky just to say, “Thank you”! Live music is an inherently joyful and emotional experience.
However, I must admit that the rhythms and melodies weren’t always the source of my ecstasy at concerts. Three and a half years ago, I almost didn’t notice the sweet sounds blaring from the speakers. I was far more focused on my checklist of substances than experiencing the music. I spent most shows in the bathroom, asleep in the seats or circling the lot looking for that guy that had what I thought would enhance my experience. I could not imagine a life where it would be enjoyable seeing shows and going to festivals clean. I needed to be shown the way.
The Disco Biscuits show (McCarren Pool, Brooklyn – 8/15/07), where I was adopted by an attractive group of clean music lovers, is etched vividly in my memory. That day’s experience became the springboard for my new way of life: clean in the scene. We danced our asses off together celebrating our freedom from the bondage of substance and its accompanying isolation. I’m so grateful that those kids lovingly and enthusiastically illustrated just how much fun could be had raging free. I joined the Digital Buddhas, a group of clean and sober Disco Biscuit fans and began carrying this message nationwide.
I come to every show and festival in the mindset of how I can help. I look forward to giving hugs, smiles, compliments, and encouraging words to all those I come in contact with. Whether I’m helping with the rain fly on a tent, giving assistance with the sale of feather earrings, or being company to someone who got separated from their friends, I’m always available to assist my peers. My reward? The feeling I get from brightening someone’s day.
If you get to know me, I’m a big proponent of developing real relationships and intimate friendships. I like to foster an environment where it is okay to be honest about how you feel even when things are less than beautiful in that moment. I always say that we go through a whole range of emotions while participating in shows and festivals. Not everyone will be there to listen and encourage you while you are down. I feel like the rock people can always depend on in times of need. I am truly grateful to be able to support people when they are struggling with different issues.
At the Big-UP, I was blessed to be of service, in cooperation with the festival medical team, in operating “drug-cool-down zones”. We set up a safe environment for festival-goers who had too much in their systems. As a result, they didn’t have to get strapped down to a stretcher and wake up in the hospital with a huge bill (or their parents by their side ready to take them to rehab). We prevented them from getting dangerously dehydrated, lost in the forest, or taken advantage of. We hugged those kids, gave them some glitter, played them music and showered them with happy and loving vibes until their faculties returned. A few hours later, they were able to return to their friends and enjoy the rest of the festival. When they came down and realized what had happened, they were incredibly thankful.
You may not believe it, but I truly don’t have anything against drugs or alcohol. I have nothing but empathy for those who indulge. Although I have spent time under the influence, at many shows, I simply prefer having a clear and unadulterated experience. For me, it’s partying hard and being able to remember it all the next day.
I don’t think that I would have gotten to this place, so comfortable in the scene, surrounded by so many substances, without the support and community of the Digital Buddhas and other clean kids at shows. Meeting anybody in recovery is like reuniting with a survivor of a near fatal accident. Moreover, the identification shared among kids who got clean in the scene brings about a blissful, if not spiritual, experience. We truly feed off each others’ gratitude and nourish a bond we once found in drugs. We graciously welcome newcomers to these meetings and give them the hope that they too can live and enjoy raging without the use of drugs. We tell them that after some time and doing some good things for ourselves and others that the desire and obsession to use drugs will certainly be lifted from them as it has been for us. Since that first experience at Mcarren Pool, I’ve had the opportunity to spread the clean love at hundreds of shows all around the country and don’t plan on slowing down any time soon.
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