CONTENT WARNING: This story discusses instances of sexual assault at live gigs.

After two years of being away from gigs, avoiding crowds, and generally having an awareness of people around us, apparently it bears repeating: if you’re at a gig, please for the love of god keep your fucking hands to yourself. It’s almost ridiculous that I need to stress this again, but as live gigs have begun to return, apparently people are falling straight back into bad habits.

Last weekend, Triple J and ABC’s The Sound presenter Bridget Hustwaite tweeted about her re-entry to the live music scene after Melbourne’s extensive lockdowns, where her and another woman were groped by a man during Adam Newling‘s show at a Fitzroy pub.

She went on to thank the staff and security of the Workers Club who swiftly kicked this fuckwit out of the pub for his atrocious behaviour. She also noted that some of the responses she tends to get about what she was wearing were “pathetic” and that it literally doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t, and people should be able to enjoy a night out at a live gig – especially right now in Melbourne – without being sexually assaulted.

I can’t believe this bears repeating. If you’re in a crowd, keep your hands to yourself unless you have consent.

You’d like to think that after the last two years, where we have been largely in our homes, away from crowds in dark rooms at concerts and festivals, and being hyper-aware of the people around us, people (read: cis-men) would have learned to not touch others without expressed consent. But no, literally the first weekend that venues are allowed to open and host live shows in Melbourne, men think it’s a license to grope femme-presenting people.

We’ve already talked about mosh etiquette after the serious safety issues in the crowds at Astroworld, and this is simply another facet of that. Gig etiquette absolutely extends to recognising and respecting other peoples’ personal space, and the importance of taking care of everyone at the show.

Sorry, but I’m extremely not sorry about this rant. I’m tired. I’m over it. We’re all over it. Don’t fucking touch us.

Back in 2018, Bridget herself wrote about being incredibly fed up with the prevalence of men taking advantage of heavy crowds and low visibility at shows to sexually harass people around them, using her own experiences has a catalyst to demand for change.

Two years, a global pandemic where the safety of others was paramount, and still we’re right back at the same place. People continue to think it’s okay to put their hands where they’re not wanted. What needs to happen to make this stop, to allow people to feel safe in a crowd again?

In 2018, I experienced the same thing at a show I’d been invited to as a music journalist. I was at a live gig off the back of my job – something I’m incredibly proud of and work hard for – and a man took the opportunity to feel me up multiple times. There was something about this incident that felt even more violating than it already was.

Not only was this man – who snaked his hand around my waist even after I’d told him not to touch me – groping me without consent, he was assaulting me at something that was intricately linked to my career. A place where I was there as a professional, and I was subjected to foul behaviour from a man who thought he had ownership – albeit temporary – over my body.

So I’m just going to say it. I’m not going to mince words. If you, or any of your mates, think it’s appropriate to touch other people without their explicit, expressed consent in the thick of a crowd at a live gig, just do us all a favour and stay the fuck home.

We don’t want you at the show.

Help is available.

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual assault, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.

Image: Getty Images / Mackenzie Sweetnam / Twitter / @BHustwaite