Don't Punk Out

6.19.2008

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The punk community began with a group of people who just didn't feel like they fit in, kids who by choice or peer pressure found themselves nudged outside the bounds of what was considered acceptable dress and behavior. Should sound familiar to any queer who's bored by the idea of being a safe, friendly mainstream homosexual, right?

Even though society's stopped looking so shocked by Mohawks -- and the faux-hawk has become flat-out trendy -- there is still an exciting element of us vs. them at the Vans Warped Tour. At its heart, it's a day of loud, awesome rock surrounded by dudes and chicks dressed to the nines in piercings and tattoos -- and, seeing as it's summer, not much else.

If you're still hung up on the idea that punk rock dudes are more likely to kick your ass than check it out, take this advice straight from Warped founder Kevin Lyman: 'This is the one place where people accept each other,' he told Out. 'You can be who you want to out there. I've seen kids come out and be openly bi or gay, and I've never seen a situation where someone's had a hard time.'

So don't be intimated by piercings or ink or dancing that looks like flailing -- just join in. You'll have a good time. And you'll have an even better time if you check your know-it-all attitude just long enough to take some advice from a couple of old pros.

(Once you're all fired up, be sure to read Out's guide to the best of the bands at Warped.)

Ten Ways to Survive Warped:

1. Eat before you go, and not just because the food is typically overpriced. Whether you're cruising the boys or pogoing your little heart out, you'll need energy to keep going all day.

2. Wear a shirt and sunscreen. Yeah, yeah, you want to show off your hot bod. You'll get your chance -- but pace yourself, because passing out from sunburn and/or heat exhaustion is way unsexy.

3. Wear shoes that protect your feet. Yes, those flip-flops accentuate the sports pedi you got over the weekend, but you will get stepped on. The number of times this will happen is also related exponentially to how close you are to the stage.

4. If you're planning on buying merch, accessorize appropriately so you have someplace to store your swag.

5. As soon as you get inside, find the Big Board -- this is where all the acts will be listed by stage, in the order that they perform. This is the most important tool in planning how you want to see and be seen. Most venues also offer the option to subscribe to text updates, but take it from a couple of tour vets - said updates are infrequent, and often inaccurate.

6. The earlier you go, the younger the crowd. This also applies to your proximity to the stage, in most cases. That may be a pro or con for you, but be prepared for extra-exuberant elbows in your ribs if you want to run with the kids.

7. Hydration is your friend. That means water, and plenty of it, and that means budgeting for the $3 bottled water on-site. At most Warped venues, water fountains are in short supply and shade is unlikely.

8. Fear not the mosh pit forming nearby, as unwilling participants will be helped out of the circle should you inadvertently stumble in. And keep it in perspective: 'There's more violence at a Jimmy Buffett concert than at a Warped Tour,' Lyman says.

9. Similarly, protect and help up the younger and smaller folks around you if they're being overwhelmed by the crowd. Real punks take care of each other.

10. If you're with someone, have contingency plans for finding each other if you get separated. Make sure they don't involve being able to hear your cell phone. Trust us, even if it vibrates like a pro, you won't be able to hear whoever's on the other end.

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