I’m at a Bhad Bhabie concert with my 11-year-old daughter, have I made a terrible mistake?
By Emma Jane
It’s 8:30 on Sunday night and I’m standing up the back of Danielle Bregoli’s all-ages Sydney gig with a bunch of other awkward parents trying not to think Old Person thoughts.
Thoughts like: “I wonder how much that young lady on stage would owe our household if we still had our swear jar?”
And: “It’s surprisingly chilly in here, I do wish I’d thought to bring a cardy.”
And: “OH SWEET JESUS I CAN’T BELIEVE MY 11-YEAR-OLD IS SOMEWHERE DOWN IN THAT VOMIT INFERNO OF A DANCE FLOOR.”
I’m seriously considering wading into the mobile phone-wielding throng to attempt a humane extraction (it is, after all, a school night) when I get the call from the theatre’s St John Ambulance area — the exact location of which I can’t make out over the music.
Bregoli launches into her umpteenth conjugation of the m-f word as I sprint through the venue in desperate search of the daughter, who veers between wide-eyed child and surly teen so fast it gives me vertigo.
One last Old Person thought is running repeatedly through my head like so many ‘lil biches bustin’ fo cash and gettin’ poked wit shanks, yo: “Was letting her come here tonight a terrible mistake?”
The Bhad Bhabie story
Flash back to half a day earlier and — despite arriving eons before the doors open — the queue at the Enmore Theatre’s under-18 entrance already stretches for blocks.
The number of people lined up outside the special entrance for adults? Seven.
This tale of two queues is due to the fact that the multi-millionaire American rapper headlining tonight would also have to line up in the kids’ queue if she ever attended a gig here as a punter.
She is, after all, just 15 years old.
Bregoli (rap alias “Bhad Bhabie”) became famous (well, internet famous) in 2016 after appearing with her mother on a Dr. Phil segment called I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime.
Sick of being laughed at by the talk show’s audience, Bregoli called everyone a pack of hos before saying (in what was later ridiculed as an affected “blaccent”) “cash me outside, how ’bout dah?” — which means something along the lines of “step outside and I’ll fight you”.
Bregoli’s much-mocked catchphrase went viral but, somewhere along the way, her antifans stopped following her Instagram ironically and started buying her music non-ironically — or is that post-ironically?
Either way, the “troubled teen” who’s pleaded guilty to grand theft auto and drug charges, who’s tried to frame her mother for heroin possession, and who’s been banned from an airline for in-flight brawling, has achieved legitimate rap power status.
Earlier this year she was nominated for a Billboard Music Award after signing a lucrative deal with Atlantic Records — home to heavyweights such as Bruno Mars and Coldplay.
Needless to say, my daughter is utterly obsessed with her. So obsessed she spent $60 of her own money to buy my ticket so I’d bring her tonight.
An Old Person knows her place
Back in the queue, she and the two other tweenagers I’m chaperoning are asking politely but firmly if I could please stand somewhere that is anywhere else.
I am, it seems, redundant.
I’m about to firmly but sadly decline when a bouncer snaps a pink, Old Person identification band round my wrist and tells me all adults have to enter the venue via the 18-and-over door — now with a queue maxing out at 13 people.
En route to pensioner purgatory, I meet a 12-year-old from Newcastle who’s been lined up in the sun with her 71-year-old grandparents for four hours and is also extremely relieved to be ditching her minders.
Among other mortifications, her grandfather keeps removing his false teeth to clean pizza out of them with a tissue. Also her grandmother has brought binoculars so she can keep an eye on her young charge down on the dance floor ready to intervene “if anything happens”.
Once the doors finally open, the kids surge in through their gate while we shuffle in through ours and stand in a motley line up the back, looking lost and out of place. Every so often someone breaks into a half-hearted dad dance to relieve the tension. It’s the anti-mosh pit.
I try not to think Old Person thoughts, I really do. But I don’t much like the music, Brigoli’s constant stream of expletives is not offensive so much as tedious, and the thought of my beautiful small human in the middle of that screaming, pushing, denim-shorted mass makes me want to cry.
The truth is my daughter needed me there
I don’t tell my daughter this in any of the 100 text messages we exchange before I see her again, though.
This is probably classified information, but even though she couldn’t wait to get rid of me before, she’s been in constant electronic contact ever since I left.
She wants me to know that she had to check her bag in so it wouldn’t get searched for weapons LOL!!! That OMG Danielle Briogli is AWESOME <3 <3 <3 !!! That the only way she can see the stage now is to hold her phone up and watch the screen. That people are pushing her. That some girl is vomiting. That other people are now dancing in the vomit.
That she’s just had a panic attack and is with the ambulance people and could you please come *right now*, mum?
It doesn’t really take me too long to find her. It just feels like too long. And there she is having her pulse checked, looking sweaty and a bit squished but otherwise unharmed.
Later that night, I tell her I was really glad I’d been there.
And she says, “Me too, mum.”
And as I think about this unlikely admission and of the nana with the binoculars and all those other awkwardly earnest parents prepared to help their kids experience the latest in a long line of demonised popular music icons, I feel a perverse sort of pleasure at the fact that Brigoli’s epich bahdness ended up supporting a bunch of quite wholesome family values.
Just don’t tell my daughter.
Dr Emma A. Jane is an academic at UNSW Sydney. Her latest book is Misogyny Online: A Short and Brutish History.