You would never guess that the same hard-looking punks who stood in line for an event famous for its showcasing of emo music would later be sweating off their eyeliner, dancing to rap music and singing along to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. But this was the contradiction at the first anniversary of Dallas’ Emo Nite.
For the past year, RBC has hosted Emo Nite on the first Saturday of every month. But this Saturday marked the anniversary of Emo Nite in Dallas, a nostalgia-packed, all-night singalong of tunes reminiscent of the mid-'90s and early 2000s. The line to get in the doors of RBC, a music venue on the outskirts of Deep Ellum, stretched several yards down Commerce Street as attendees bantered back-and-forth between drags of their cigarettes.
“With Craig Owens from Chiodos here, most people would be lucky to get in,” Kaylin Hagerman, an Emo Nite regular, said.
Before doors opened at RBC, organizers of the event, Orlando Mendoza, Teresa Carpenter and Jay Webster celebrated wearing birthday hats, shooting confetti and taking pictures. After their short celebration, Mendoza ordered a cocktail from the bar to kick off the night.
When the doors finally opened, more than 30 people gathered inside, singing along to rap music that played over the speakers, showing the diverse tastes of the crowd, which was growing by the minute. Next on the playlist was “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. Throughout the night, Mendoza cut the audio in and out, giving the audience a chance to fill in the blanks, testing their knowledge of the songs. Meanwhile, Webster danced on stage and worked the crowd.
At first glance, the crowd was nothing but black eyeliner, fishnets and faded band T-shirts. However, underneath the surface were individual pasts that led each member of the crowd to have at least one thing in common: the sound and culture of emo music. “It’s just like a phase of music that existed at the time, and I think it’s really cool that we get this moment to look back at it,” Jasnik Moreno, an Emo Nite regular, said.
The first half hour after doors opened could have easily been mistaken for a rap concert, lacking the iconic emo sound that many came to hear. Cali Smith, an Emo Nite attendee asked, “What is this? This isn’t emo music. This is terrible.” During this time, Mendoza and Carpenter stood at the back of the stage, hovering over their laptops while they monitored the playlist, acting as the masterminds of the whole event.
The first real sounds of emo music came from Panic! At the Disco, prompting everyone hanging outside to run into RBC. As the song ended, the crowd roared in admiration of the music that many of them were introduced to in middle school. “How the fuck are we doing tonight, Dallas?” Owens yelled.
During his time on stage, Owens sang what many would consider the emo anthem: “Welcome to the Black Parade” by My Chemical Romance. As the song began to play, Owens asked everyone to take out their phones and sway them back-and-forth. Within seconds, RBC was completely lit up with about 50 little cellphone lights.
The most memorable part of the night was when Frank Zummo hopped behind his drum set to play a compilation of different emo songs. The compilation consisted of songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, and “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine. The whole venue turned into a messy mosh pit with no escape. Considering that live performances are an abnormality at Dallas’ Emo Nite, the drums were mixed surprisingly well with the music playing over the speakers.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
As Zummo began taking down his drum set, Webster jumped back up and invited people to safely join him on stage, making sure to tell them to leave their drinks behind. In the midst of this, a couple escorted their half-conscious, inebriated, over-served friend through the crowd and out of the venue. The stage was then full to capacity as the crowd danced to “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus.
As the event reached its final hour, the crowd's numbers began to dwindle, but the energy did not. “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” by Panic! At the Disco had the crowd just as lively as they had started. People were let on stage unconditionally. As “Beverly Hills” by Weezer played, a couple viciously made out on the side of the stage.
Emo Nite ended just as it started. The upbeat, rowdy, young-hearted people that made up the crowd were left hanging around RBC. They mingled with others about all the experiences they had listening to the music they love the most, and hoped for many more Emo Nite anniversaries to come.