Festival Hall, 1981
I loved Adam Ant. I was a member of his fan club. I had posters of him on my bedroom wall and a picture of him on my pencil case. When I heard he was coming to Melbourne I had to go.
I was fourteen. My parents said I could go if my older sister went with me. I don’t remember how I convinced her to take me. I don’t remember who bought the tickets but I do remember we weren’t sitting together; we had one ticket in row five and the other way up the back. I do remember there was no discussion of who was sitting in row five.
Before the show began security guards prowled the aisles and loud announcements over the PA told us to stay in our seats. I was in row five. I was nervous but I wasn’t going anywhere.
Then the PA told us to put our hands together for Adam and The Ants and someone up the back shouted “Go!” There was a huge noise of scraping metal and pounding feet as everyone in the rear surged forward, charging up the aisles and jumping over seats. The security guards shouted and pushed the tide of teenage girls back but it was no good. The guards managed to hold them at row five. I had a human wall standing screaming behind me.
Adam arrived. White stripe across his face, feathers in his hair, cavalry jacket open, white shirt unbuttoned, tight leather pants, big black buckle. “I love you Melbourne,” he told us. We called out we loved him too. ‘‘Are you having a good time?” he asked. We screamed “Yes!” as loud as we could. “You sound like a fucking bunch of cats,” he told us.
I don’t remember anything about the concert itself. When it was over Adam brought out a huge bunch of red carnations. “Who wants one?” he asked. We all put our paws up. He threw them to the left, he threw them to the right, he threw them overhand and underhand and over his back and between his legs till he only had one small handful left. He threw that handful straight into the middle of row five. The wall lunged forward, hands clawing the air. I got pushed down into my seat and covered my head as girls scrambled on top of me. Some lucky girls screamed and waved carnations in the air. The rest fell back with a disappointed groan. I opened my eyes. Lying in my lap was a red carnation.
On my way out a much older girl offered me twenty bucks for it. “No!” I told her, clutching it even more tightly to my heart. I clutched it all the way home in the back seat of Dad’s Holden. “Why’s she crying?” Dad asked my sister. My sister shrugged.
When we got home Mum offered to press the carnation for me, so I could keep it. “No,” I told her. “I don’t want a flat, dry flower. I’m going to plant it so it grows, then I will have real carnations forever.” Mum rolled her eyes. “It won’t grow,” she told me.
I didn’t believe her. Red carnations mean the deepest of love. I would love it and care for it and it would be an eternal living symbol of my deep love for Adam and his love for his fans. I found the perfect spot in the back garden – not too sunny, not too shady and where Mum’s cats didn’t shit. I planted it deep. I watered it carefully for the next three days then I forgot about it. I found it several weeks later while I was searching for a lost ball. It was dead. I took it to Mum and asked her to press it but she said it was rotting and I should have listened to her in the first place. She threw it in the bin.
When Adam got back to London he was contacted by an American Indian tribe who asked him not to wear the white stripe across his face as it was sacred to their culture. He changed his look to silver pants, a thin blue belt and two diagonal red stripes on his left cheek and a love heart over his right eye. I put up a poster of David Bowie.
In 1981 Drumstick ice-creams were 50 cents. We were never allowed to have Drumsticks. On a hot day, if we were lucky, we got an icy pole. Icy Poles were seven cents. With twenty dollars I could have bought 40 Drumsticks.
I still love Drumsticks.
Sarah Vincent 2018 ©