I’ll never forget the first time I saw her from across the club.
The Curb Stomp was the kind of dingy hole in the wall dive that punkers in the modern age dreamed of being a part of. It strove to bring back the feeling of punk bands playing in basements that had built the movement back in the mid-80s and it accomplished that without being pretentious. Part of that might have been attributed to the fact that it actually was a basement.
The owners bought the building, which had originally been a dual purpose structure. A small grocery was run out of the bottom, or basement, while the upper level was split into four apartments. All that changed when the Amorosos bought the place. They knocked out the walls that had separated the storage area in the back from the service area in the front of the grocery. Where the walk in cooler had been became a fully stocked bar. The walls, floors and ceilings were painted black as was the main entry door.
The top two apartments were joined into one large suite, where the Amorosos lived after selling their home to fund this insane venture. The bottom two apartments were combined into a large living space intended to serve as temporary storage, dressing room for the bands, and crash zone for the punks still living the lifestyle.
A week before the first show, the new owners of the only punk club in Rochester, New York invited everyone in the scene they could. Friends that had been with them for years, bands that deserved the title of punk, and supporters of the scene flooded into the renovated space. And over the course of a three hour “coming out” party proceeded to write on the walls, slam stickers everywhere and generally trash the place.
This is an important step that is forgotten by pretenders. Even a new punk club should always seem like an ancient place that, while built solidly, appears to have taken years of abuse. The aesthetic lends credibility that will help a young club as well as giving it the appearance of permanence. And permanence for something as transient as a punk club is more important than usual.
Inside of three months, the club was packed from Thursday to Sunday night. It didn’t matter what band was playing because the owners were very serious about running it old school; if a band wanted to play, they played. It harkens back to the days were punks were forced to be loners because no other bands or clubs wanted them around. And because the core group were so tight and so romantic, they would cheer any performance for one simple reason.
It is a performance.
And it is in this beautiful vintage experience that can remind you of everything beautiful about the human experience and everything that can go wrong with the human experience, I saw her. I don’t know how I missed her for so long but apparently I did. One friend of mine said he thought he had seen her there every night we had been there. And yet through all those nights, all those bands, all that fun, she just never caught my notice.
I could believe she had been there all this time because every night after the first time, no matter where I looked or when I got there, there she was. She was a punker’s dream. Not some bubblegum and daisies little sweetie. No, she was a rock out, mosh crazy cunt that would smash your balls as soon as look at you. She was beautiful but not in a soft way. Any guy with sense in his head knew with one look that her smile would cut you. A wink would feel like a punch to the gut. And her love?
Her love would burn you up inside. And not in that “hurt so good” way that ol’ John Cougar Mellencamp crooned. No, that love burned like an atom bomb and left nothing but shadows in its wake.
I never walked up to her because you don’t walk up to a woman like that. You survive a woman like that. But I noticed her. I noticed when some guy got fresh and pinched her ass. She got fresh back and gave him a swift headbutt that sent the goon to the floor. Someone else grabbed her by the bicep so she grabbed him by the balls. He let go, right quick.
She was a hellion and everyone that was there to stay, loved her. None of us talked to her and it never seemed that she felt lonely, though she was always alone. But any time someone, male or female, got in her face around thirty pairs of eyes shifted to make sure it turned out like it should.
With her the winner and whoever went against her, the loser.
It went on like this for…god, it must have been six months. Six months with that eruption trapped in human form dancing at my peripheral. Six months of not knowing her name. Six months of knowing what a terrible idea it was that kept pushing into my mind.
Six months until I went into the pit. I’m not a small man, I’m actually as big as three of the average patrons put together. Because of that I try to stay out of the pits. Because I’ll either kill some kid that doesn’t know any better or I’ll get some visitor who wants to make a name. And then I’ll have to bust him good. And I’m not going to lie, when I’m in that place I’m so high on the atmosphere that I don’t want to have to come down, even if it is to teach some twerp some manners.
But on this night, I waded into the pit. FUCK YOUR UNICORN was on stage and I’d already seen them three times over the past six months. They were a good group and I had even made friends with them. And they promised tonight to do some Bad Religion covers for me. So, I thought it only right to wade into the pit and show my appreciation.
It was three songs before I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turn, keeping with the motion of the crowd without losing myself and see her. In six months I had seen her raise more hell than anyone had a right to without a scratch on her. And a big part of that was in those six months I had never seen her once go into the pit. And now, this little woman that barely stands over five feet and is maybe ninety pounds soaking wet is in the middle of the pack next to my big ass.
She pumps her thumbs up and I know she wants to surf. I wink at her and lean in to her ear, “I don’t lift people I don’t know the name of.”
She practically jumps into my ear, “Lorna.”
I smile wider and as they kick into “American Jesus,” I launch little Lorna onto the crowd.
They take her away.