The average concert-goer expects to enjoy live music without harassment. This was not the case on Friday night when Solange Knowles and her husband took their 11-year-old son and his friend to see Kraftwerk, the influential German electronic-pop band. A group of white women grew annoyed that Knowles’ dancing blocked their view of the stage and threw at her a half-eaten lime.
Yesterday on Saint Heron, Knowles published “And Do You Belong? I Do,” an essay about the incident. “This is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominantly white spaces,” she wrote, describing the events as follows:
Telling your son and his friend Rasheed about a band you love and one that played a pivotal role in the history of hip-hop. Something that as a family you all feel very connected to.
Imagine, although the kids are interested, they are still 11, unfamiliar, and would rather be spending their Friday night differently. You and your husband are always talking to your son about expansion and being open to other things and experiences, so you guys make the Kraftwerk concert a family Friday night.
You get there about 10 minutes late, but lucky for you, as soon as you walk to your box seats, the song that you just played for your son in the car is on! It’s a song his uncle sampled, “The Hall of Mirrors.” You haven’t even sat down yet because you just walked to your seat and you’re so excited to dance to this DANCE MUSIC SONG.
About 20 seconds later, you hear women yell aggressively, “Sit down now, you need to sit down right now” from the box behind you. You want to be considerate, however, they were not at all considerate with their tone, their choice of words, or the fact that you just walked in and seem to be enjoying yourself.
You are also confused as to what show you went to. This is a band that were pioneers of electronic and dance music. Surely the audience is going to expect you to dance at some point.
You were planning on sitting down after this song, as long as it wasn’t one of the four songs that you really connect with and plan on getting down to.
You feel something heavy hit you on the back of your shoulder, but consider that you are imagining things because well….certainly a stranger would not have the audacity.
Moments later, you feel something again, this time smaller, less heavy, and your son and his friend tell you those ladies just hit you with a lime.
You look down only to see the half eaten lime on the ground below you.
We can debate the details of concert etiquette until the end of time. But outside of a few specific genres or formal settings, dancing is fundamental to the live music experience. It is ridiculous to insinuate that Knowles is at fault for having food thrown at her—yet many have.
Knowles responded to the episode by dancing anyway. Ironically, the group of women periodically stood up and did the same.
Read Knowles’ essay in full here.