My experience with Bikini Kill, ’92-’94
Way back in the early 90’s I worked in a coffee shop in DC. At that point Bikini Kill was already well known; but not to me, a young woman experiencing urban life and women’s studies stuff for the first time.
In theory, I was drawn to riot-grrl music–the lyrics, the culture, the style, the attitude. However, the provincial world of Washington D.C did not provide a world conducive to open-minded fresh off the boat learning. Instead, it was all about who you knew, who you went to school with, who you fucked, who served you a drink at Food For Thought.
I served coffee to Kathleen Hanna a few times at the coffee shop, she was pleasant, I listened at home to particular angry lady songs. But, every time I went out to shows my feelings at home, and the emotions in my ears were proved wrong by the very particularly cliquesh atmosphere I found at the shows.
I kept listening, however, I just couldn’t help my love for a few of the Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy, Huggy Bear songs. A year or so later, I went to a Bikini Kill show in the basement of George Washington University. My excitement was palpable, despite my self-conscious reservations….then, the band came on, they sang the same songs they’d been singing for years, the same girls and guys with the same attitudes rushed the stage.
And I realized that the feminist projections and hopes I’d had all along were my own private ideals pushed onto a very popular phenomenon.