The Radical Kindness of Teenage Girls
They build each other up, mindful that the world will try to tear them down
The show doesn’t start for another hour, but the line to get into the 9:30 Club already stretches around the corner. It’s cold, and my 14-year-old daughter is restless, her blood pumping with the nervous excitement that accompanies a first-time experience. We thread our way along the sidewalk, following the line of fired-up ticket holders around the corner, down the block, past the alley, almost to the next corner.
We are here to see Billie Eilish, the 16-year-old American singer-songwriter who got her start as an internet sensation. I have been to countless shows at this club over the past few decades, including some big-name alternative rock bands, but I have never seen a line this long. Despite the cold, everyone appears happy, bubbling over with anticipation. The energy is infectious.
My daughter and I finally reach the end of the line and slot ourselves into place, bouncing on the balls of our feet to keep warm. The two girls in front of us are talking low and serious, while the middle-aged woman accompanying them stares at her phone. In front of them is a group of friends—maybe eight girls in all—laughing, fixing each other’s hair, and posing in dozens of configurations against the graffitied brick wall beside us. “Really good backdrop for Instagram,” my daughter murmurs.
Behind us is a group of girls just a bit older than my daughter. They are clearly attending a club show for the first time, and I listen to them worry about logistics. “I’ve been to a concert at the Verizon Center, but, like, there were seats,” one says.
I turn around and smile. “It’s a great venue. Don’t worry; you’ll have a great view from wherever you are.” I ask them how close to the stage they want to be, then offer them a few suggestions of spots where they might want to stand. They thank me, visibly relieved.
There is a sudden ripple in the crowd. A man in his mid-forties is making his way down the line. Maybe he’s not actually checking the girls out. Maybe he’s walking so slowly and looking so closely because he’s searching for his own daughter. I give him the benefit of the doubt, but the girls are instinctively on guard. I…