Brick by Brick: “I used to like girls”

The queue is literally a mile long, snaking through Frederiksberg. The line of chattering girls is punctuated every so often by an accompanying dad, standing head and shoulders above the girly crowd with the awkwardness of a meerkat.

S & M, cheeky wink x2
My friend Irina and I are chaperoning our daughters to see the Canadian teen idol Shawn Mendes at the Falconer Salen. The 3,000 tickets for this gig sold out in hours.

Our girls are very excited. All the girls here are very excited. In fact some camped out overnight to be sure to get close to the stage. Almost all of them seem to have long straight hair. Many have written the heart-throb’s initials on their cheeks in eyeliner: S and M.

When the queue finally ambles into the venue we discover there’s upstairs seating and, to our joy, there’s no extra charge to sit down, so we pile up there. Downstairs, more than 2,000 pubescent girls have decided to cram into one third of the very large space available and are fanning themselves with their

El of a shrieko
Our girls troop off to buy t-shirts. Irina says she can’t imagine letting her daughter camp out like that, although she did let her son camp outside ElGiganten with her husband. But that was for a laptop. And I confess that for the first two years we were here I didn’t realise El was short for electricity, as I thought it was a Spanish chain.

Just as I’m saying ElGiganten with soft Spanish ‘G’s, the lighting on the stage changes. The house lights are still on, and nothing has happened, but the whole venue erupts into deafening screaming. At least five girls faint below us and get hauled out of the crowd, and our daughters come running back demanding to know what on earth is happening.

But that’s nothing compared to what happens later when wee Shawn himself pads onto the stage in his plimsoles. The screaming is so intense Irina and I are sitting with our fingers in our ears. The venue people are desperately handing out water to the front of the crowd, but no matter what Shawn does, someone faints. An unconscious girl is lifted up onto the arms of the crowd and floats like Ophelia towards the waiting bouncers, her handbag clasped under her crossed forearms.

Suzie would leather it
After an initial acoustic set, wee Shawn’s all-male backing band comes on. I have a feminist moment. Suddenly I want to tell all these girls that it could be them making music. I want Aretha Franklin singing lead and Katy Perry writing the songs and playing guitar. I want Karen Carpenter (because I cannot think of another female drummer) and I want Suzie Quatro on bass, dammit, in her leather trousers.

Shawn sings a high note. A girl faints. Shawn sets out singing a song the whole crowd knows. A girl faints. Shawn tells the crowd that Denmark has the most beautiful girls. Three girls faint.

I try and reframe my feminist unease. This evening men have provided the entertainment, been an object of desire (not mine), kept everyone safe, handed out water, and picked up unconscious young girls and carried them about. If you view men as staff, the whole proposition improves.

“This must be hard work for you,” I say to one of the young security guys as we’re leaving. He sighs and says sadly: “I used to like girls.”