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The older generation is often ridiculed by young people. We slow down grocery checkout lines, you can’t see us over the dashboards of our monstrous cars, we ask stupid questions about the “Interweb.”
I am always particularly amused by the reaction of the young when confronted with the fact that their elders enjoy going to rock concerts.
I am amazed that they are amazed. After all, we, the boomers, were the first generation raised on rock ’n’ roll. If the current trend is any indication, I suspect we will still be rockin’ when they roll us into our final resting place, our Botox-filled faces frozen in the 1970s, our corpses decked out in bell bottoms and platform heels.
More amazing to me are the old performers (Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Steven Tyler, etc.) who are still able to jump and cavort for our amusement. Their craggy, wrinkled faces tell one story; their agility tells another. My hat is off to them (except that my grey roots would show if I took it off).
As a young woman in California, I attended outdoor concerts with pot-smoking, long-haired audiences. We lounged on the grass, revelling in the special vibe that defined the hippie era. Concerts were free – a good thing, since as students we had no money.
About 10 years ago, a friend and I attended one of Tina Turner’s final concerts. Cyndi Lauper opened for Tina and the show was fabulous. It was outdoors with very few seats. Most of the audience stood for the entire show, or sat cross-legged on the ground. Back then, my menopausal limbs could still do that for the duration – and still be able to straighten up after.
Now, I fear I’m doomed to auditorium venues with plush seating, a bar serving high-quality liquor at intermission and the necessary companion washrooms.
But, again accentuating the positive, I can afford those plush seats now. Age does have its privileges.
I recently attended a concert that featured a group covering a well-known seventies band. The glitzy stage was flooded with flashing lights, the music was upbeat and loud, the audience pumped (I hope they all took their high-blood-pressure meds beforehand.). As I looked around, I realized that a concert like this is tailor-made for us old fogeys.
Think about it: The performers strutted onstage wearing classic polyester, truly “the fabric of our lives,” ideally suited to the expanding senior waistline and beer belly. Bell-bottom pants and hippie tunics distract the eye from that same doughy middle, fooling our perception with the flares that cleverly slim the waist. White go-go boots and platform heels lengthen the body, replacing the height lost due to crumbling osteoporotic bones.
And, as anyone who has worn platforms knows, the support provided by their thick soles and chunky heels makes them much less tippy than one would think. Seniors are all about stability. We embrace retirement funds, Spanx and walkers (and there were many walkers among the audience).
A couple of brave concertgoers decked themselves in “period” costumes from their closets, demonstrating that seniors are all about recycling and reusing. I was impressed that there were no moths flying in circles around them – though, not to be stereotypical, I did detect the faint aroma of mothballs in the air.
The flashing lights were perfect for a demographic struggling with their bifocals, cataracts and glaucoma. Nobody could claim “I couldn’t see!” Though all those lights might have brought on stroke-like symptoms for spectators prone to migraines. Likewise, the deafening sound may have benefited those with hearing aids, since they could turn off their batteries, save power and still hear the music.
I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only one grooving to the music. I bobbed my head, clapped my hands, mouthed the words. As I watched others gyrating, I concluded that some were just shaking as they normally do. Here, they could do it without anyone thinking they were frail, doddering old folks. Note to self: Continue to attend rock concerts in 10 years, when you really are old and doddering. It’s all about camouflage.
The one thing you won’t see at an old folks’ rock concert is a mosh pit. That was a more recent phenomenon, something my children’s generation loved. But it is hardly practical for the older crowd. I shudder to think of the tangled wreckage of canes, walkers, damaged limbs and oxygen tanks that could end up in that mess.
When I described my evening to my adult children the next day, they were pleased I had enjoyed my “throwback” evening. And then, just to taunt me, they threw me a curve ball.
“You know, Mom, Steven Tyler is coming here for a concert this summer. I know you love Aerosmith. Maybe we could get you tickets.”
“Steven Tyler … here? You’re kidding. That’s fabulous! I can finally get to hear his scream up close and personal.”
I was so excited I almost peed my pants. Again, not a problem. There are diapers for that. And what says happy old age better than bell bottoms, platforms and Depends?
Laurie Best lives in Waterloo, Ont.