Turning on the Lights: A Post from the These Streets Intern

Just looking at the ripped posters of the era you can tell Seattle was on the cusp of something. Bold designs and haphazard band names that sound like crossword puzzle clues strewn across neon yellow paper. It was a time of making art simply for art’s sake. There were no alterior motives.

I felt drawn to These Streets because of my past. I can identify with those posters. The venues I see in videos remind me of the bars in my hometown the patched cables and indistinct vocals bring the nostalgia rushing through my head so fast I can smell the cigarettes, the floor is sticky from 100 beer spills and so much dancing! I’m sixteen and as I ease my 1978 Thunderbird into the parking lot of the F.O.E. I can already hear drums pounding through the walls of the ramshackle building. The crowd is a mix bag. There are  kids my age, 20 somethings and dirty old men that will buy you Jack and Cokes if you nod your head while they tell you their stories of ungrateful wives and forced retirement.

I remember one band, The Front, while all the other bands were full of rowdy drunk boys, this band was a girl band. And man I thought they were so cool. While most of the bands toward the end of the night were too drunk to play, this band was on top of it. They never missed a beat. It felt like they were on a mission like they needed to prove something. And although I don’t frequent the F.OE., or anything of the like, anymore. That band sticks out to me. They knew what they wanted in that moment. It meant a lot to a sixteen year old girl who had no thoughts to the idea of desires past finding someone to  buy me beer after the show. The memory of those girls playing stands clear in my mind while the rest of my bar show experiences are a bit foggy.

Last night we set up a lovely dinner at the Project Room with some of the women that were part of the music movement in Seattle during the late 80s early 90s. It was great hearing their stories and beginning to understand the world they lived in and even drawing connections into my own world. They really aren’t that different after all.

Gretta brought some of her old band t shirts. Some of them she had made herself. I also have band t-shirts sitting in the back of my closet in Billings. They have been spray painted with care in the alley behind my house (my dad didn’t want me to get paint on the grass in the backyard). We all have stories of our favorite bands that no one else has heard of and in that moment when you talk to someone that was there, that remembers that obscure band name, you can relate to that person on a whole new level. You may disagree about one hundred other things in life but the fact remains that you were there together and no one else can understand exactly what it was like. It’s empowering to have a group behind you, dancing in the middle of the room like you never left the backstage where you weren’t necessarily supposed to be in the first place, remembering (barely) the words to that one great song.


That is why this project is important to me. It’s a look into the past, a glance at the things that have shaped us. It is important to know your history, so we can see exactly what we have become and to understand that all of that still can change. We have a lot of life to live.