Cassandra Atkinson
Melbourne, October 2012. The morning after a wedding themed house party.

Trying to fit into your skin. New Goth, Punk Rock, a summer of floaty 40s numbers for a vintage chic, I have tried it all in the endless pursuit of a skin that fits. The seams never quite met, did they? A little bit too hard edged there, a little bit too girly there. So many haircuts and colours it’s a real stroke of luck I haven’t completely chased the hair off my head. Underneath it all ran thoughts a little a bit harder to swallow than a tongue piercing. Hiding out beneath these disguises was a girl terrified of her naked skin.

You can get out of this party dress but you can’t get out of this skin. Boy’s lyrics poke a little uncomfortably at the struggle that almost all tussle with: gaining a real sense of identity in a society that compels people to fit in.

I heard Skin after a particularly big weekend out. The morning after a wedding themed house party. It was a wake up call, every word struck a chord within me. All day long she’s waiting for the night to ask her out, to be somebody’s dancer, to get lost inside a crowd. Alcohol was a crutch that helped me to lose awareness of the boundaries of my skin, my inhibitions. For as long as the effects lasted I was free of my own self-imposed limitations, free to get lost inside the music and the booze until the taxi drops you back into a morning full of doubt. And as the effects would wear off I would be left feeling numb and even further lost in doubts, as I had no idea who that person was that I was last night.

He tells himself he can’t be lonely coz he’s never on his own. Living in a world of instant connection, we might think we are never alone. Reaching out has never been more deceptively easy, a conversation on different sides of the globe can happen simultaneously as you upload a picture of, say, your first homemade chicken and leek pie. The comments and likes make you feel a part of something, a group. That feeling however is two dimensional, it can be quite empty as you sit in your apartment, just like the guy next door, alone. Both virtually seeking out the deep desire we all sit with, to find ourselves in the context of a family, a group.

Our base instincts are with a pack, it is completely unnatural for us to live all boxed away, segregated, separated, so we try to fill this empty longing in ways that will never content us. All the friends he makes at night, in the morning they are gone. Our drinking, drug and music culture allows us, for one night at a time to join like a tribe. The beat, the rhythm and the liquid connects us in one big laser light driven thrashing, twisting, convulsing, heartbeat pulsating orgy: your skin prickles, eyes meet, you smile, each understanding at that exact moment how the other feels.

Then the lights go up, and you stand like a rabbit in headlights, momentarily lost. The sweat on your skin cools and with it the warm connection you felt moments ago, your eyes meet, you both look away, once again ships in the night lost to each other at sea.

An endless parade of Saturday night clubs, parties and pubs continues until that one night when it changes, the euphoria seems further out of reach. Faces look the same, same crowd on a different night, your feet hurt and everyone has a look of urgency – all searching for something they can’t quite put their finger on. The hangovers hurt a touch more, the emptiness has a harder edge in the morning and that connection you felt to him, her, and them somehow seems fake. You return to yourself and start to delve deeper, finding yourself, your fold and your skin.

 

© Cassandra Atkinson. Cassandra has a cargocollective feed mainly about contemporary beats.