The first concert you go to, like the first record you bought, is something that can be manicured with the passing of time.
As a teenager and a student, it was definitely easier to mutter something about a local punk showcase rather than utter the truth: Steps' "Steptacular" Tour, at the Birmingham NEC, almost exactly 17 years ago.
I was 11, and the tickets had been booked a solid nine months earlier by three well-meaning mothers. Even then, Steps' appeal was somewhat on the wane, reports the Telegraph.
But by the spring of 2000, Steps had definitely descended into the realm of uncool, usurped by the combat trouser-clad peppiness of S Club 7, whose male members did light rapping and had noticeable biceps.
But my friends and I had correctly been told that going to Steps, at the Birmingham NEC, was a Big Treat. We were going, and we would have fun, regardless of what our classmates said.
What it took me several years to realise was that we weren't being taken to a midlands arena to witness a significant cultural event, but to be gently educated in the ritual of going to a concert.
There was a fuss made over making sure I was in suitable pop concert clothes (pink pedal pushers, possibly with a matching bandana), and we were treated to the expensive, silver-covered programmes.
Mine lingered on a bookshelf at least until I took my GCSEs, its shiny cover and glossy photographs holding a power of nostalgia over the charity shop paperbacks which eventually took its place.
I wish I'd kept it, it was basically a portal to the dawn of the millennium.
On Monday night, thousands of girls and their mothers went to see Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena. They'd put on "going out" tops and shiny lip-gloss, and shed out yet another fiver for flashing headbands with cat ears on.
Hayley Lunt and her 10-year-old daughter Annabel were among them. They ran to the Premiere Inn for a sleepless night after the attack. "It just makes you frightened to take your child anywhere," Lunt told The Guardian.
"It was her first proper concert and I'm just thinking, will she want to do anything again."
Your "first proper concert" is supposed to be fun, and for a while this one was too. One video shows a witness describing the scene.
When the camera pans over to her daughter, I noticed that both have matching Ariana Grande-style eyeliner flicks, perfect for a girls' night out.
With Steps, I remember witnessing the lark my mum had with my friends' mums almost more than the show.
It was unusual for us to be escorted by more than one, or one set of, parents at a time, they usually took it in turns to take us out to the cinema or the park.
But this time we were mirrored: the three of us, with sparkly eyeshadow on, by three grown women better used to socialising at dinner parties or the school gate, let loose among a cast of thousands who were all there to revel in the pleasure of pop music's shimmering artifice.
We had turned up several hours early, and saw countless bands on-the-make who never did make it.
But Daphne and Celeste, an emergent bratty Canadian duo, who would later go on to be bottled at Reading, were the main support act and blew me away with their crop-tops and Ooh Stick You bravado.
When Steps finally came on, it felt late. We had been cheering for several hours. Satsumas and sandwiches were issued - my mother packed me off with similar contraband items when I returned to the NEC, without parental support, three years later - and the cheery five-piece descended on stage to the clubland refrains of their latest pop smash, Deeper Shade of Blue.
I remember matching hats and overzealous shoulder pads, H flying across the stage in a silver hoop and endlessly shouting the popular club refrain of "oohuh-oohuh". Even as a child, that got tedious.
But the overall experience was galvanizing - and one I sought to repeat time and time again.
I've grown into an adult who has made going to pop concerts into a job. Now I tend to go in whatever I've worn at work all day, and sometimes by myself, dwarfing the excited pre-teens who are going to their first major show.
Taylor Swift, Jessie J, Little Mix, Kylie, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and yes, Ariana Grande: I've been the weary-looking, childless woman standing in the crowd at all of them.
But while the glitter cannons, costume changes and increasingly bizarre mid-set interludes can grow tiresome, the enthusiasm of these stars' younger fans remains infectious.
They've got dressed up, some of them have made banners with glue and glitter. They'll dance to the music played over the PA before their beloved pop stars come on stage, and when those people do appear, in false eyelashes and spangled leotards, a puff of smoke and light, those first concert-goers are rapt.
The concoction of staying up late on a school night and seeing people they've idolised on YouTube and Instagram is dizzying; it can be felt in the air as if it were as tangible as a pink fluffy deely-bopper.
Grande is famous for releasing a sheet of pink balloons over her crowd as she leaves the stage. I've witnessed the delighted gasps that induces first hand; it's an old trick, but one that even the most hardhearted can't fail to enjoy.
Footage from Monday's concert shows some of those balloons still softly drifting down to the seats as the stadium clears in panicked screams.
Leaving an arena after spending a few hours in bombastic constructed hyperreality is like eating a lot of spacedust and feeling the ghost of it on your teeth. You're thrust into the dark, concrete brutality of the outskirts of a cavernous building and left to deal with the practicalities of getting home.
I remember making my way to the NEC car park, legs heavy. These days, I vanish to the Tube as quickly as possible.
This morning, I'm trying to think of what it must be like to have carnage inserted into that most banal of scenes.
The witness statements of blood, dust and shrapnel thrown among the glitter, the recordings of the chaos I heard over breakfast, and Mancunian comedian Jason Manford's comment that there will be parents with empty beds today. It is all so wrongly at odds at what should have happened.
It's a horrifying, unimaginable thing to experience as a child. But I hope that those, like Annabel Lunt, who were going to their "first proper concert", are able, with time, to relinquish the terror of Monday night.
Terrorist attacks may be initially successful in what they set out to achieve - inspiring terror - but it doesn't last for long.
When people were killed doing the school run outside Westminster in March, London woke up the next day and went back to work, as they did after the July 7 bombings, as they did after the 9/11 attacks.
A year after the Bataclan attacks, musicians went and played more music. People went and danced.
Those first shows provide a ritual by which we understand the joy of witnessing live music. I may have lied about seeing Steps, but that didn't stop it igniting a love of gig-going which fuelled my adolescence, young adulthood and career.
There were 21,000 people in Manchester Arena last night, some of those will have been at their first concert. All of them will carry what happened with them, both the tragedy, and the good that went before it.
Hopefully they'll come to remember the pink balloons as well as the bombs.