Dirty Boots

by david

This is one of my five favorite videos ever:

I don’t have an actual list of five. I’m sure if I did, this would be on it, though. Sonic Youth’s “Dirty Boots.”

It’s this brilliant little simple thing that perfectly captures the dream of going out to this little club show, these club shows that gave high school life some meaning and excitement and romance. It’s got the energy of a live concert video, but it’s not just the band on the stage. The video has the energy of the scene, the scattered focus, the distractions and the personalities, and the bumping into each other and the eye contact and the wondering and the jealousy and the “maybe if I just get up there everything will be amazing.”

I never made out with a stranger onstage behind my favorite band, but I took every stage dive I ever had the chance at. I spent countless nights fruitlessly flirting, sending mixed signals, dancing awkwardly but intensely, leaving both exhausted and exhilarated. For an uptight high school quasi-nerd, the release and comfort in that weird pop-up community was unparalleled. I didn’t graduate high school sure of who I was or what made me happy, but I was happier and had more confidence because I got to spend 3 of  4 years getting to shows like this at Kansas City and Lawrence venues like the Rhumba Box, the Outhouse, the Daily Grind, and Gee Coffee. My high school didn’t celebrate the things I thought made sense, but scenes like this made it OK. It was an opening to a more interesting world.

I have no illusions about trying to regain the moment. To go back today would be sad and embarrassing: it’s not my scene anymore. But this video captures better than anything what those moments were like. I’ll never get nostalgic watching a movie scene about high school football, but show me the “Dirty Boots” video and I’m back in time like an all-state quarterback watching “Friday Night Lights.”

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