The trip to Orlando to catch Front 242 was a prime example of my parents' permissiveness when I was in high school. I think that some of their hands off approach probably derived from guilt at the fact that by 1991, I was attending my third high school despite a promise that I'd get to graduate with my friends in Virginia. I was used to moving around, but I found the adjustment from the military base in Japan to the much wider world of the suburbs of Washington DC in the middle of my freshman year more difficult than other moves.
The small, insular environment of a US Army base overseas is one where scene politics and cliques don't have as much room to play out as they do elsewhere. When you're stuck with only a few hundred other people your age who speak english, you have to roll with a lot of different interests to get along, and I did. I played sports, I was into making videos, I was rabid about music, and I wasn't afraid of the one freaky girl with pink hair who seemed to only take an art class. When I got back to the states, that sort of well-roundedness was frowned upon. You either took up with the drama crowd or the jocks, or you could sit it out on the sidelines. All of this seemed a little forced to me, but I acclimated which made the announcement that we were moving to Florida that much harder.
I met people quickly in Tampa mainly through my haircut and collection of Nitzer Ebb and Die Warzau t-shirts. It helps to have that sort of uniform when you're 15 and a complete stranger--I'm not so sure it's necessary much beyond that. My folks always set a curfew of midnight or 1 AM but I rarely observed it if I was going out. It probably helped that all of my friends were straight edge so I could promise my parents that we weren't out drinking, but they really let a lot of things go.
So when Front 242 decided to skip over Tampa on their Tyranny For You tour, Dave and I hatched a plan to take a trip out to Orlando. Being sans-girlfriend at the time (a situation I'd not-so-happily managed to maintain since birth,) I asked Bryan to go with us so that I wouldn't be the third wheel with Dave and his girlfriend. Bryan's parents weren't having it. What, four teenagers driving to Orlando for a night in a hotel and a concert didn't sound like a good idea?
Front 242's live show was a fantastic blend of theatrics and set design even if it wasn't big on actual live music. From what I could tell, all of the music was on tape and the band members just spent 90 minutes trying to look cool as their songs filled the club. That was good enough for me, and the show became probably the highlight of electronic music shows for me for some time to come.
Somehow our plan was to drive out to Orlando the day before the show, sightsee, stay in a hotel, then drive back to Tampa immediately AFTER the show. We probably made it back to Dave's house at around 3 AM at which point Dave made it a point to wake up his grandmother to take the following photo:
She was then gracious enough to pose for this one: