Words by Emilia D’Albero | Photo by Nick Karp

Close your eyes and think back to when you were 12 years old, sitting in your bedroom with the lights off and listening to Dashboard Confessional on your portable CD player.  You’re upset because your parents just don’t understand, that guy in your class won’t notice you, the popular girls made fun of your hair today, or something like that.

Suddenly you’re 22, with a salaried job and a 3 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, and you know more about artisanal cheese and fine wine than most people at casual parties are comfortable hearing about. And you’re still sitting in your bedroom with the lights off and listening to the same Dashboard Confessional album, only this time it’s a vinyl record playing on a $600 turntable.

Or maybe that’s just me.

I’ve been struggling to come to terms with my feelings about Emo Night for a long time.  I first started going to the smaller events at bars on the Lower East Side and in Brooklyn, where a guy in the corner plays music off his laptop and the song request list is a sheet of printer paper with “Mene” by Brand New written on it about 20 times. Presumably all by the same guy who thinks he’s funny. (He is.)

I loved it. I loved drinking cheap beer with other adult emos who left studded belts in 2010 (ok fine, 2012) and who were happy to talk to me about the American Football reunion or what bands they were listening to lately or how that one Chris Farren tweet was so hilarious. I made a few good friends and now we go to Emo Night together and love every minute of it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m an “emo purist” of sorts. I have no problem telling you that the “Emo Trinity” is not a real thing and neither Fall Out Boy nor Panic at the Disco! are emo bands. And no, neither is Twenty One Pilots. Hate to break it to you, teenage Tumblr. I’m basically a walking version of the “Is This Band Emo” website. So when Emo Night started getting more attention and moved to venues like Brooklyn Bowl, I was not happy. How dare they use the name Emo Night when all they play is New Found Glory and Say Anything and maybe a few Brand New songs! What the fuck is this?! Are they seriously playing All Time Low right now??? That’s it, I’m finishing this cup of cheap whiskey and we are LEAVING. I just wanted to listen to Rainer Maria and cry into my drink.

I was utterly dumbfounded that these wonderful angels who created such a safe haven for all the sad, barely legal adults like myself would disgrace the emo genre by letting it evolve into this. I mean, come on, that girl over there in the Bieber t-shirt probably has no idea who Snowing is! Who let her into our special sad club? Doesn’t she know that these events are only for REAL emo kids?

Then one night, as I was listening to that same Dashboard Confessional record, the ghost of Chris Carrabba came to me in a dream and told me something that would change my life.  He leaned in and whispered in my ear with those talented, angelic lips…

“Emilia, stop being a fucking douche.”

I said back to him, “Alright, I will try, but only because Vice called you the Emo Godfather in an article once so clearly you have some authority in this situation.” When I woke up, I was a new woman. I decided to give Emo Night another try.

Alright, that didn’t actually happen. But I kind of wish it had.

Emo Night Brooklyn came to the Bell House last Friday and I showed up fashionably late, ready to stand in the back with my cheap whiskey and sneer at the people singing along to Jimmy Eat World. But then I remembered the words I wish Chris Carrabba’s apparition had actually said to me, and I made the decision to keep an open mind. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the night more than I had enjoyed anything in a very long time.

Because when it comes down to it, Emo Night isn’t about defining the genre or boasting to a stranger that you’ve seen Rites of Spring live. It’s never been about that. Emo as a genre has always been an outlet for people to share their feelings without being judged, to be supported by other people who may be going through the same thing, and maybe achieve some level of catharsis through music. And who was I to judge these people, who just wanted to use Emo Night as the same kind of outlet, only in a different setting? The line between emo and pop punk has been pretty blurry recently, anyway, and I’m pretty sure no one out there has a PhD in Emo. I realized that night at the Bell House that these events are a place for like-minded people to come together and scream the words to the songs they grew up with and that got them through the difficult times.

So yes, I stood there (with my cheap whiskey) as special guest Ryan Key of Yellowcard DJ’d, and yes, I cried like a baby to “Konstantine” by Something Corporate and sang every single fucking word of “Hands Down” by Dashboard Confessional and goddamnit, fine, I will admit that I do know all the words to “The Best of Me” by the Starting Line. I was covered in beer, I was sweaty, and some bearded dude decided to start a mosh pit and accidentally elbowed me in the neck. But I was happy. I felt like a weight had been lifted and I didn’t want it to end. It was like being back in middle school, but the rush of emotion was elation instead of depression. These songs now mean something different to both myself and everyone else there, something better than they did 5 or 10 years ago. These songs are nostalgic reminders of what we went through to get to where we are today. Emo Night is not a secret club, but a celebration.

We got older, but we’re still young. And so is Emo Night.

Long live Emo Night.


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