Raise Your Bic Lighter!

Standing on a folding chair, about fourteen rows back, the Eagles were performing “Hotel California” and I was in “unbalanced” heaven. I was a nerd and didn’t take a toke in my high school years, but the second-hand smoke at this concert was doing the trick. This was 1980, back in the days when you could smoke indoors, even in hospitals, thousands were smoking, but they weren’t smoking Camels.

My senior year of high school was a time of great music and my preferred wardrobe was faded jeans and concert t-shirts. If you went to a concert, it was mandatory that you bought a t-shirt. That way, the next day, everyone in the crowded halls could identify the lucky kids that had gone to the previous night’s show. One of my all-time favorites was the Pat Benatar shirt, she first had a hit when I was a sophomore and was very big at the time. I wore the black shirt with matching black sneakers, of course. As you might guess, I didn’t go for the “Benatar” look that was popular at the time…the stretch black pants, over-sized shirt with cloth belt….spikey hair, too much make-up and head-band. I laugh every time I watch the movie Sixteen Candles…at the part about the school having three “Benatars”….we had at least six!

During that period, I saw too many concerts to list in this blog. I loved music and did not discriminate…whether rock, blues, or pop…if they came through Dallas/Fort Worth, chances are, I was a face in the crowd. Jackson Browne, Heart, Rolling Stones, Foreigner, Van Halen, Bee Gees, Bryan Adams, Earth Wind & Fire, Diana Ross, Doobie Brothers, and Linda Ronstadt…all played…and I listened. I always got a t-shirt and you can bet I already had the newest 8-track each band had put out on the market.

I was mocked by my friends for my love of the Bee Gees. I had loved them pre-Fever days and that movie put me over the top! My friends were jamming to Led Zeppelin and Santana…they didn’t relate when I went into my falsesetto and proceeded to belt out Jive Talkin!! At the height of their popularity they scheduled a concert at the Fort Worth Convention center in June of 1978. No one I knew would go with me to the concert….no one would take the risk of being caught dead at a disco show. My older sister, who rarely went to concerts, was going with her husband…but they could only get two tickets. I was on my own…it was a sold out show.

Face value ticket prices were $17.00 for the Bee Gees…that is the equivalent of about a $100.00 today…it wasn’t cheap. I was on the Chargers that year, we were a really good all-star softball team. We traveled out of town for tournaments quite often and for extra money we painted address numbers on curbs. I walked door to door with my stencil and black spray paint, basically soliciting for work…we charged $4.00. If we walked for the team, the money had to go toward traveling. But some days I ventured out by myself for extra cash…..well, you can tell by the way I use my walk….the Bee Gees knew how to work it and so did I.

I found a ticket from a friend of a friend, paying a whopping $24.00…more than I ever had paid up until that time. My friends were howling with laughter at my terrible taste in music and my careless waste of good money…but I didn’t care. I loved rock, but there was something about the disco beat…it was my guilty pleasure before I knew the term.

I had worked hard to get my hands on that ticket…I had about 2 days to be happy. My softball coach called and told me that he had signed us up for an all day tournament on the day of the concert. Good grief! The only thing I loved as much as music, was softball…what could I do…what would I do?

We figured out if we won the first two games on Saturday, we would then go to the championship round on the next day. The second game wouldn’t be over until about 8pm and the concert was slated to start about the same time. My mother, who watched every single game of my career, was in the stands that day. She drove me to the field and said as soon as the last out was made I should sprint to the bathroom and change….then head to her car and she would drop me off at the concert hall.

I did just that…I took off my sweaty uniform, threw on my jeans and Talking Heads t-shirt and raced to my mother, my taxi for the night. I don’t imagine I smelled too good having played two softball games in a row under the June, Texas heat, but I made it to my seat at about 8:15pm…well before the brothers hit the stage. My long anticipated wait for the big show was over….and I was sweating like I truly had a case of Saturday Night Fever.

The lights went down, the crowd stood up…the back beat started…and for an hour and a half I was in disco heaven! The rest of the crowd was about 10 years older than me, all dancing in their best polyester outfits. I didn’t care….How Deep Was Your Love? ..mine ran pretty deep. I still have the ticket stub in my photo album…and always smile remembering the mad rush to sit in sticky clothes and watch my disco idols.

The Eagles, Long Run Tour was one I didn’t want to miss either and that was how I found myself standing on the folding chair and listening to Don Henley that night. The California rock band moved into their next song, I Can’t Tell You Why, as the lights all went out and the Bic lighters went up….10 thousand of them. It didn’t matter if you smoked or not, inside every kid’s jean pocket was a Bic lighter, a necessary tool in your concert enjoying experience. It made for a pretty sight, if you happened to be high, it just about blew your mind! It was awesome!!

It did blow the kid on the isle seat’s mind and he started to fall through his collapsible metal chair….grabbing his best dude friend beside him…and that dude grabbed the guy on the other side of him…you get the picture…it became a major chain reaction! I teetered for a second and then fell backwards. I got some help from the kids behind me that prevented my head from hitting the concrete floor. The entire row had toppled, but no one was hurt that badly and nothing really mattered. We were young, some of us were loaded, and the Eagles were playing live, just fourteen rows in front of us!

The concert t-shirt was the usual black..with just the words, THE LONG RUN, printed in white across the front. I half-way strutted, and half-way hobbled down the hall the next day…I had bruises on my legs that matched the shirt, but it was all good. I never got the nerve to wear the Bee Gees t-shirt to school. It was pale yellow and had the brothers dressed in white polyester suits, standing together on an illuminated disco dance floor. I was a nerd, queer girl, and I liked to sing disco songs…I didn’t feel the need to push it.
I did use it as a sleep shirt though…it was always folded nicely in my top drawer…right beside the one with the silk-screened picture of the Disco Duck.


3 responses to “Raise Your Bic Lighter!

  1. I, too was a lover of disco, surrounded by my Deadhead friends…I admire that you could just, just admit it. Damn!

  2. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Was there, lived through it, loved it at the time. Now I just wonder why. Thanks for the memory.

  3. Ahhh, guilty pleasures.

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