Crowd-surfing is an art, a sport, and a science. The floor of of the Brixton Academy describes a steep downward gradient of about one in 4.The crowd is sparse on the upper slopes, and I glide through through the ragged fringes of the crowd, slaloming past clutches of ancient Pearl Jam fans, but as I advance down the hall the density increases, along with the hostility of those in my wake. Hairy alternatives curse and spit at me as I barge past, until a painful jab to the kidneys persuades me to switch strategies. I adopt the special crowd-surfing technique known as Slipstreaming.

I refer you to the Wikipedia entry for this term:

A slipstream is a region behind a moving object in which a wake of fluid (typically air or water) is moving at velocities comparable to the moving object, relative to the ambient fluid through which the object is moving.[1] This allows an object in the slipstream of a preceding object too attain a comparable velocity with little or no expenditure of energy.

The shape of an object determines how strong the effect is. For example, a box-like front will collide with the medium’s particles at a high rate, transferring more momentum from the object to the fluid than a more aerodynamic object. A bullet-like profile will cause less turbulence and create a more laminar flow.
A tapered rear will permit the particles of the medium to rejoin more easily and quickly than a truncated rear.

In a rock concert environment, this means you wait until someone more assertive than you pushes their way past you with their mates, then tag along behind them as they bully their way to the front. Look out for women from Wales or the North East with a box-like front and a truncated rear.

Sure enough, Courtney launches into Pretty on the Inside and a dreadlocked Amazon muscles past me followed by a squadron of northern slags, shrieking and hooting in a skanky conga. Several skinny nancy boys are trampled to death beneath their New Rock Originals. Salut, my fallen comrades, your death shall not be in vain. I follow the trail of destruction into the heart of the crowd.

Slutkiss girls
Won’t you promise her smack?
Is she pretty on the inside?
Is she pretty from the back?

In seconds I advance 30 ft towards her. As I surf the riptide the object of my obsession comes into focus. She’s wearing a cream silk slip with golden mules, manhandling her fender jag master like a semi-automatic. I’m about to attempt my second assault on the mothership when I hit a block of immovable rock aficionados, a solid wall of bloke. Arms folded, legs astride, Urban Denim, but I am an unstoppable force, and in the ecology of alternative rock, the natural order is inverted; it’s survival of the skinniest. I hold my breath and dive through the legs of the nearest rock bloke into a heaving sea of grunge. A thousand pointy shoes kick at me, a millipede of misguided hostility.

When the still sea conspires an armor
And her sullen and aborted
Currents breed tiny monsters
True sailing is dead
Awkward instant
And the first animal is jettisoned
Legs furiously pumping
Their stiff green gallop
and heads bob up *
Jim Morrison – Horse Latitudes*

I surface 10 feet away from the stage, and the stench of teen spirit hits me in a fetid squall. Courtney drawls something bitchy about Patti Smith, then smashes into ‘Violet’. I’m close enough to see the lipstick on her teeth.

Go on take everything, take everything I want you to.
Go on take everything, take everything I want you to.

I’m a nice English posh boy. It’s not in my nature to be pushy or aggressive. But something primordial takes over. I force myself into the mass and it surges forward, reacting like a monstrous animal to the pressure of my love. Now I am a soldier, I am a messenger, I am an ant, she is the queen, I am the arrow, she is the fortress. She is the object, the egg, the hole. I dive again into an ocean of hurt, and go down for the last time.

‘The face of the earth has been changed by the religions of lament and, in Christianity, they have attained a kind of universal validity… The legend around which they form is that of a man or a god who perishes unjustly…It may be that a goddess loves and laments the victim, as Aphrodite Adonis. In her Babylonian shape the goddess’s name is Ishtar, and Tammuz is the beautiful dead youth. Among the Phrygians it is the mother goddess Cybele who grieves for Attis, her young lover. “Raving, she harnesses her lions, and, taking with her her Corybantes who are as mad as herself, she drives about all over Ida, howling for Attis. One of the Corybantes slashes his forearms with a sword, another lets down his hair and rushes to and fro over the mountains ; one blows a horn, another bangs on a drum and yet another clashes cymbals together. All Ida is noise and madness.’
Elias Canetti – Crowds and Power

I surface a few feet away from the stage and then with every note I’m being pulled closer to the stage, sucked inexorably towards the the void. Now I’m crushed against the barrier. She’s got her foot up on the monitor and as her hips grind I look up and see the cellulite on her thighs quiver. Oh Mary mother of God, Oh sweet baby Jesus I can see her knickers. I can see her knickers. I can see her knickers. and beyond that, separated from this corporeal realm by a crusty film of gossamer I can see forever. Eternity, the alpha and omega, the filthy hole at the centre of the universe. That’s the place where everything begins and ends. The best place and worst place in the world. Samadi, Samsara, Nivarna. Om mani padne fucking om, it’s Courtney Loves Snatch. My legs start to shake and a bit of wee comes out as i gaze up her skirt in awe.

Go on, take everything, take everything, take everything…

She ends it with hideous wail, and the band exit, leaving the Queen Bitch to destroy the stage. She launches herself at the drum kit, smashing it to bits like a disappointed brat at Christmas. A vintage rickenbacker bass is reduced to matchwood in seconds. She spins on her heels towards the hysterical throng and spreads her arms in a gesture of maternal embrace.

At this point I lose my last shred of self respect and wave my arms in the air like a muppet screaming. Courtney! Courtney! I Love You! I Love You!

Then she looks into my eyes, jumps off the stage, climbs over the barrier and into my arms.

It was twenty years ago.

Everybody else disappears and the room goes silent. I put my hands on her hips She’s just my age, 27. A little shorter than me. A trashy goth girl no different from twenty others I’d met down Slimelight. She gazes into my eyes and smiles a wicked smile.

It’s just her and me. The strap on her dress falls down in slow motion. Her left tit in my face. I kiss it.

The room roars back to life and a crowd of angry boys grabbed her off me and ripped all her clothes off.

Bitch! Slut! Whore!

‘I think that’s what the stage diving was about… You know, alright, Kill Me, Crucify Me, Get Me, Cm’;on, tear my breasts off, take off my underwear, steal the shreds. go in, do it. take out my hair, break my arms, break my teeth…’
Barbara Walters Interview 1995

Two black security guards pulled her out. As they dragged her naked back into the wings, she’s waving to me.


Pretty soon after that night I had a kind of nervous breakdown. I became convinced that Courtney and I were destined to be together. I pursued her round the country, losing more and more weight until I finally tracked her down in the VIP area at Reading festival. She gestured for me to light her cigarette. I obeyed. I’d run out of speed, I was too fucked to string a sentence together. She gave me a funny look and went back to an earnest discussion with Eric Elandson, her guitarist. Nine hours later I woke up alone in a sunny field with swollen lips and crimson skin. I was as if the sun had scorched a semi permeant record of shame into my face. On the train back home they laughed and called me ‘Lobster Boy’.

But for approximately 9 seconds, at the Brixton Academy, in 1991, Courtney was mine.

On that night, I realised anything on earth can happen.

A few years later I read an interview where Courtney said that on the Live Through This tour, at the end of every gig, she’d look into the crowd and see Kurt’s face…


*’A friend of mine for years, came to see the band, all night long ‘female Jim Morrison! Female Jim Morrison! Courtney, you’ve got to do it for the kids, female Jim Morrison!’ I’m not the female Jim Morrison. How can any woman be the female Jim Morrison? What Jim Morrison was, was the sexual object for women. We invented Rock N Roll to sexualise men so that we could go and scream over these unattainable football captains. I’m an undefined archetype, so it’s dangerous, no-one knows. I’m not checking my sexuality at the door, I’m shoving semiotically all of this female sexuality, all of these things that symbolise historically what we’re supposed to aspire to: Lipstick, Hair, Legs, Tits. I’m not going to be masculine, even though I’m sorta masculine, I’m very feminine. I wanted the prize, and I might get the prize… The prize being the crown passed from man to man to man in Rock’n’Roll, and the prize is to get that crown and everything that goes with it, as a woman, on a woman’s terms. Do not hurt yourself, destroy yourself, mangle yourself to get the football captain. Be the football captain. That’s it, It’s that simple.’
Courtney Love 1991

© Orlando Harrison 2014