Shelley Ferguson, one of the judges on the current series of The Block NZ, writes about her encounter with Courtney Love at the Big Day Out, 1995
When I was 14, my soulmate died. His name was Kurt Cobain. Despite the fact we had never met, I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest - my Nirvana was no more.
After locking myself in my room and sobbing for three days solid, I recovered as teenagers usually do. My new obsession - Courtney Love and her band Hole. My bestie and I spent hours in her garage belting out angry, angst-ridden songs until our vocal cords felt raw.
So when Hole appeared in the Big Day Out 1995 lineup I knew I would be there, no matter what. I was 15. I can't remember how my friend and I got permission to go - probably through the usual stubbornness, determination and emotional blackmail our parents were often subjected to - but go we did. I'd picked up a rock-inspired outfit consisting of a way-too-short tartan skirt, Doc Marten boots, a threadbare Nirvana tee and an army green backpack.
We were chaperoned from our home in Papakura to Mt Smart Stadium by my friend's dad, but the precious hours in between were ours.
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After being dropped at the gates, my friend steered me off to a disused lot down the road, and produced a hip flask filled with spirits she'd snuck from her parents' liquor cabinet. Alien to drinking, I naively took a big swig and doubled over as the rocket fuel lit my throat on fire.
Luckily I had a good head on my shoulders, and that was the end of my alcohol consumption that day. Once inside the BDO, we revelled in our teenage freedom, bug-eyed at the swarms of people from every walk of life, sporting crazy fashions including the nineties neon trend, and hedonistic forms of self-expression.
Courtney Love performing with her band Hole at the Big Day Out in 1995. Photo / NZ Herald
When Hole hit the stage, we were were enveloped in a heady and intoxicating mix of teen angst, emotion, anticipation and rebellion, and I remember feeling beautifully free, despite the claustrophobic crush. Hole's infamy was partly due to Love's raw and reckless performances (I later learned this was due to the cocktail of drugs she was on in the '90s), but also her feminist-fuelled lyrics littered with body image, identity and sexual references. It seemed like a good idea at the time to fight our way to the mosh pit, where I gave control of my body over to the swaying masses. It was when the crowd began forcefully jumping up and down and head banging to Gutless that I realised I'd committed a fashion fail. Heavy man boots scraped down the front of my bare shins, causing bruising and welts that took over a month to heal. But the pain was insignificant as I was high on life.
When I was safely home, I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of relief, enveloped once more in the safety of family. That's the funny thing about being a young teen - you spend the entire time wishing you can fly free from restraint, but when you finally do, all you crave is the safety of your nest.
- Shelley is one of the judges on the current series of The Block NZ screening on TV3.