On Saturday night just down the street, the DMV Bounce Beat Teen Awards at D.C. Armory were held. Though I skew more towards the jazzy beats of Northeast Groovers and Backyard Band, I defend and explain go-go in the face of ignorance, just as I do the same for my neighborhood, where the concert was played. Unfortunately late that night, I almost ended up having to defend myself.
We hit the Shadium-Army Station just as hundreds of teens (and plenty of twenties) poured onto the Metro. The police were out in force, but aside from arresting one dervishing youngster, mostly stood at the entrance to the station, looking a bit frightened of the mass of energy swirling into the normally sleepy station. They were decidedly not in control and were happy to watch the crowd get onto the train and become someone else’s problem.
My group got split up — one friend and I boarded the last car, which was promptly packed to 4 p.m. Arlington levels, standing-room only, if that. Then the smell of smoke.
Two or three young men were galavanting around the train with tasers, somewhat playfully threatening others with the weapons. It was uncomfortable, but seemed harmless.
Then, “Tase the [expletive] in the Adidas hat.” I looked around. They were pointing at me. Then, “No, tase the [expletive] with the Dr. Pepper.” That would be my buddy. We sat there like stones, staring at our seat fronts as if they were equipped with flat screens and XBoxes. The leaders of the group talked down the prospect of electrifying us. Good. I didn’t want to turn into a sad, YouTube footnote of unavoidable wussiness:
My phone rang. Crap. The rest of our party, asking where to get off. I responded, then hung up. Shouldn’t have answered. “I think they just called the Feds.” And: “You just called the police, didn’t you?” No, no, I reassured, no snitching here.
“Then give me a beer.” Rats, I’d forgotten the 12-pack of Shaefer on my lap. I told the kid, perhaps 16, that we weren’t drinking right now. “I can’t get a beer?” Back to the stone-faced stance. The threats to our physique were becoming muted — the tasers were still being brandished, just not at us. The train pulled into L’Enfant Plaza and the mass exodus began. One of the older men shocked a female, she shrieked, swore, but didn’t seem particularly offended. Then we were alone.
Phew. Embarrassed to be at the whim of amped up teenagers but happy that our stone-faced strategy allowed us to escape unscathed.
“I was ready to throw down,” my friend said. “I was not about to get tased.”
I wasn’t sure if I was ready to throw down or run. Either way, it was going to be ugly, an impossible-to-win battle if there ever was one. As the night wore on and the drinks added up, the ruckus slid to the back of my mind. It was an isolated, if scary incident.
I’ve already moved on: I will continue to defend my neighborhood, go-go music and the next generation of D.C. youngsters. Just don’t tase me, bro.