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CALENDAR Xj S.J... VIOLENCE SNEAKS INTO PUNK SCENE BY PATRICK GOLDSTEIN Holding one of his front teeth in his hands, Eric, 10, stands on the sidewalk in front of the Roxy, surveying the throngs of clubgoers along the Sunset Strip. He's from Sherman Oaks and it's only his second pilgrimage to the late-night rock mecca. Eric grins, wiping a smudge of blood from his chin. "We were all jumping on top of this guy when someone hit me from behind," he says, gingerly tugging at his other front tooth.
"I got flipped upside down and hit my chin on the floor." He wipes some more blood off his lip. "It didn't really hurt much after a while." Most 10-year-olds lose their front teeth playing ball. Eric got his knocked out at the Roxy, dancing to the music of 999, a raucous British punk band whose most popular song is called "Homicide." The followers of punk acts like 999 most of whom are a little older than Eric don't just dance anymore. They mug each other. It's part of a new "dance" craze called the Slam, whose popularity, especially with organized gangs of punk youths, has led to numerous incidents of violence at many area clubs.
The accounts of senseless violence, vandalism and even mutilation at some area rock clubs read like reports from a war zone. Lynda Nichols, a 23-year-old Hollywood receptionist, was knifed in the back at a recent show by the group called at the Whisky. "I was standing up close to the stage to watch the band when I felt this weird pressure in my back," she said. "I put my hand back there and it was covered with blood." She was treated by paramedics for a five-inch knife wound and has been out of work for almost a month. The lead singer of the Diodes, a new-wave band from Canada, was attacked by a member of the audience at the Hong Kong Cafe recently after a spitting contest between the audience and the group got out of hand.
"Our bouncers had to pull the guy off him," said club booker Kim Turner, who said there were several other fights in the audience that night. Later that evening, punk fans broke several windows and littered the square in front of the club with broken beer bottles. A bouncer for one area rock club stopped one young fan at the door who was carrying a buckskin-sheathed hunting knife. "I asked him to leave it at the door and pick it up on his way out." Several eyewitnesses reported recently that a group of young punks got into a shouting match with motorists driving by a Sunset Strip rock club. After exchanging obscenities, the punks began lobbing beer bottles into an open convertible, showering the occupants with broken glass.
Two girls in an Orange County punk band called Sexual Frustration pleaded with the manager of the Hong Kong Cafe one night to book their band into the club. "While one was talking to me, the other went into the girls' room and broke a bunch of beer bottles in the sink and ran her hands through the glass. Then she They call it the Slam and if supposed to be a "dance," but this is how the punk-rock fad often ends up at nightclubs. stone, singer for the Rubber City Rebels. "They don't care about the bands at all.
They just hog all the attention and distract people who want to see the group." According to Firestone, it's the novice punks, not veterans of the scene, who provoke the most trouble. "It's these beach kids who missed out on the punk era and don't know it's passe now," he said. "They just want to come out and throw beer bottles and get their licks in. I wish they'd go start their own teen club where they could beat each other up." Other local bands were not so critical. "I came out to talk to me, blood streaming down her arms." Several girls reported a similar occurrence in the bathroom at an date at the Whisky where a couple of girls carved X's into their arms with broken glass.
While most club-owners agree that only a small minority of punk fans actively incite violence, several area clubs have banned bands like the Germs, the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, whose followers provoke the most trouble. Hong Kong Cafe manager Turner now has Accounts of violence, vandalism and mutilation at some area rock clubs read like reports from a war zone. didn't care if his fans beat each other up. "If they're doing that, then I know they're having fun." However, even Rodney Bingenheimer, an indefatigable supporter of the punk scene who hosts a twice-weekly disco at the Starwood, admits the antics of many punk fans have gotten out of hand. "It's getting worse now that kids are out of school," he said.
"Kids complain to me that they can't even see the bands anymore. It's just too rough sometimes a lot of young girls get hurt at these shows." Lynda Nichols, who was stabbed at the show, wholeheartedly agrees, complain- ing about lax security at area clubs. "They hassle me about wearing a belt with Z. spikes," she said, "but kids can obviously get in with knives. I used to think the worst that could happen at these shows was a gigantic bruise or something.
I never figured on getting stabbed. "It's not much fun going to see a band if you have to fear for your life." Visitors to local clubs featuring punk bands like the Germs, Fear, the Weirdos and Black Flag often are treated to the sight of dozens of fans hurtl- ing across the dance floor like kamikaze pi- 50 lots taking aim on an aircraft carrier. Other audience members dance in a loose circle around the action, either taking a spill themselves or throwing the most avid celebrants back into the fray. Unlike previous dances, the Slam is Please Turn to Page 4 don't want to see somebody stabbed out there," said Lee Ving of Fear, "but I want to make sure there's lots of action. That's our aim to get people riled up.
It's much better than them just sitting on their hands." The Germs, an area band that has been periodically banned from many local clubs for attracting rowdy followers, also sympathized with the young punk dancers. "It doesn't bother me. It's always been like that at our shows," Pat Smear admitted, saying that Germs singer Darby Crash had been hospitalized "lots of times" after savage audience skirmishes. Claiming that he's been beaten up by bouncers at his own show, Smear said he blacklisted more than half a dozen groups, mostly Orange County-based punkers like Agent Orange, Middle Class and Eddie and the Sub-titles. "No one's saying these groups encourage violence," he conceded, "but they do attract it and they do tolerate it.
We're just not going to put up with vandals who have no respect for people or property." Other club managers and regular club-goers blamed the violence on organized Huntington Beach-area punk gangs who make a practice of pummeling each other and Slam dancing at area clubs. "What happens is they end up knocking down someone's girlfriend and he gets upset and starts a fight," explained Rod Fire.
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