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Emo Nite’s Babs Szabo Is Transforming A Toxic Scene Into A Safe One

Music
Graphic By Lindsay Hattrick.

Every night is Emo Nite

Many articles have already been written about the cult phenomenon that is L.A.’s Emo Nite. A place that capitalizes on Myspace-era nostalgia, Emo Nite has solidified itself as the meeting ground for fans of mid-aughts pop-punk emo—old and new—and has subsequently become an L.A. nightlife staple. With guest DJ sets by Warped Tour superstars of yesteryear, surprise performances by the likes of Demi Lovato (who once covered Paramore's "Misery Business” on the fly), and everyone from Kristen Stewart to Cole Sprouse coming to just hang out, the motto has become "anything can happen at Emo Nite"—and, for the most part, it's been Babs Szabo's doing.

Alongside co-founders Morgan Freed and T.J. Petracca, Szabo has been running the legendary night for the past four years with a bare minimum of resources and a whole lot of naysayers working against her. Those naysayers have vanished and the resources have increased, and the crew still regularly sells out nights, plus puts on shows internationally, and has accrued cult status amongst a group of die-hard fans. And within this setup, Szabo has become the much-lauded organizational powerhouse behind it all. An incredible feat, especially when you take into account the fact that, in addition to the party, Szabo also runs Ride or Cry, an in-demand creative agency birthed from Emo Nite that now sits pretty atop a large deal with Paramount, a reel of big-budget music videos, and a roster of heavy-hitting clients like the United Talent Agency and Pabst Blue Ribbon. 

However, it’s difficult enough being a female promoter, let alone the HBIC for an operation that has become synonymous with the emo revival. After all, it’s a scene that hasn’t exactly aged well. But it’s also one that’s undeniably impacted an entire generation who felt ostracized and misunderstood—those who found some semblance of solace within forums like Friendster and Myspace that connected them to other weirdos near and far. And while there's value in revisiting something that so perfectly encapsulates the existential, alienating angst of adolescence, Szabo is quick to note that the lingering problematics of the genre can't be ignored. 

"It's all these little things I point out to Morgan and T.J. now," she says, noting that while it can be difficult to be proactive, the payoff is worth it in the end. "They're totally different people then when I first met them. But just like pointing stuff out—like when dudes in meetings talk over me—has helped them grow." I ask her about the party itself, and whether that mindset has changed the way they organize Emo Nite. "Absolutely," she says firmly. "Emo Nite is a safe space. It always will be."

It's a statement not to be taken lightly. In the years since pop-punk emo peaked, a growing number of disturbing allegations have surfaced—namely involving big name bands who leveraged their notoriety in order to get close to their underage fans. Just look at the accusations surrounding Brand NewThe Getaway Plan, and numerous others who took advantage of their substantial and very impressionable teenage fan bases.

Not only that, but emo also became a space notorious for fostering toxic masculinity, dominated by an assortment of romantically spurned boys writing lyrics reeking of misogynistic disdain. It was a scene that canonized angst, particularly of the lovelorn variety. And the eyeliner-donning, girl jean-wearing “sensitive boys” emo kids idolized could scream almost anything and still connect with a group of teens who longed to listen to music reflective of their own internal turmoil. As such, emo soon became a place where boys with an outsider complex were not just accepted, but idolized—and the negative effects of that have reverberated into today.

At one point, we all eagerly sang along to these types of songs—merely connecting with the pure angst of every guttural growl and pained expression of undiagnosed depression we picked up on. However, as Jessica Hopper pointed out in her 2003 essay “Where the Girls Aren’t,” emo provides ample female objectification, as “every record was seemingly a concept album about a breakup, damning the girl on the other side.” 

“Emo’s contentious monologues—these balled-fist Peter Pan mash-note dilemmas—have now gone from being descriptive to being prescriptive,” Hopper wrote. “Emo has become another forum where women were locked out, observing ourselves through the eyes of others.”

And though the scene itself has begun to reach a reckoning of sorts, progress has still been abysmally slow. And it's probably thanks to the deep threads of misogyny that still underlie a scene that repeatedly distilled women to being “just a line in this song.

However, it’s a start, and Szabo likes to see this as more of an opportunity than anything. An opportunity to educate and, more importantly, set a precedent: A zero tolerance security policy, a hyper-vigilant crew, no more triggering songs by alleged abusers, a bill that always tries to book a woman or two (despite the pickings being extremely slim).

“One of the main things we always promote at Emo Nite is for everyone to take care of each other,” Szabo said. “In the beginning of every night, we'll get on the mic and say, ‘No matter what happens tonight, look out for those people that are around you, and just be nice to each other.’ And, the thing is, I think, in the four years that we've been doing Emo Nite, there's only been one fight. People mind themselves. It’s about the music to them.”

Chalk it up to the maturity that comes when one grows up, or rapidly changing social mores. Either way, it’s fertile ground to set a new precedent—one sans harassment or confrontation. Perhaps it’s something that will also start to affect the art itself as well. After all, while we have a soft spot for a good breakdown, there have been moments where a nostalgia listen will turn into a disappointing dissection of blatantly fucked-up lyrics.

“There've been a lot of times where I would really dive into the lyrics of some of these songs and kind of get bummed out about it. But, I think at the end of the day, I try to just look at the positive ways in which it has impacted my life,” Szabo said, emphasizing the fact that the emotional connection you form to music isn’t (and probably shouldn’t be) reflective of your current mindset. 

“Like, think back to like high school and who you were as a person. You’ve changed so much,” she continues, “It’s cool to be taken back to a time where you become who you are now. Where you felt all these emotions and used these songs to kind of cope with that.” 

We compare the music of our youth to a time capsule of sorts—something to tether us to a simpler time when the craziness of now grows to be a little too much. If anything, I’ve grown to see events like Emo Nite as cathartic. Nostalgic to the point where you remember the good and the bad, but the things that ultimately made you who you are today. In a world that’s constantly bombarding you from all sides, reminding you of your roots isn’t exactly the worst thing—and perhaps that’s why Emo Nite itself is such a perfect reincarnation of a movement we should be expecting better of. And that’s what Szabo’s here for.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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