The Music Scene for Tulsa Teens

Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll! While that famous mantra of the Me generation might bring a nostalgic smile to many a Boomer’s lips, it can strike fear in the hearts of the parents of teenagers. Ever since Elvis first twitched those hips, the musical line in the sand between teens and their parents has been drawn, and drawn again, by each subsequent crop of adolescents. For young people trying to make sense of their world, music is a potent thing, a powerful tool for self-discovery and group identification. Even better, it can be a great way to irritate parents. While daily battles over volume and content are a given, bigger decisions are called for when your budding music aficionado is ready to take the show on the road and catch a favorite band live in concert. To rock, or not to rock, that is the question.

Tulsa is blessed with a myriad of music venues, everything from intimate clubs to large-capacity arenas. At some point, your child may want to visit them. Although saying “no” to DJ night at an over 21 club and “yes” to a Performing Arts Center symphony might be a no brainer, what do you do when your kid wants to see dubstep at the Cain’s or indie rock at the Brady?

First and foremost, of course, is your child’s safety. One obvious solution is to go to the show with your teen. If the thought of having a parent in tow while attending a concert causes your child to potentially die of embarrassment, there are things you can do to mitigate. For seated, reserved shows, like those at the Brady Theater or the BOK Center, purchase your own ticket in the general vicinity of your children, near enough to keep an eye on them, but not so close as to destroy their social lives. At the Cain’s Ballroom, where the concerts are primarily general admission standing, bleachers are conveniently located at the side of the room for just this purpose. You can discreetly blend into the woodwork while your teen takes a spot on the dance floor. If that’s still too close for your mortified offspring, for an additional fee, you can buy a ticket to the mezzanine, up a flight of stairs in the back of the venue. Not only does this afford you a good view of the floor, it has the added benefit of a private bar and bathroom.

Clearly, with your older teenagers, this solution is less viable. When considering whether to allow your child to go to a show without an adult, the more information you have, the easier the decision. If your concern is under-aged drinking, venues such as the Vanguard or the Cain’s, where the majority of the shows are all-ages, use a banding system to easily distinguish those of legal drinking age. At the Cain’s, patrons desiring to drink have to show photo I.D. at the door before receiving a “21+” wristband. Without it, they can’t drink, buy or even hold alcohol. According to the Cain’s website, violations result in ejection from the venue. It has been my experience that the Cain’s takes this responsibility seriously. There is security stationed at the doors and by the stage and often an employee roving the floor. In addition, the Cain’s has a no re-entry policy. If you leave, you aren’t allowed back in.

I recently spoke with Officer Jillian Roberson from the Tulsa Police Department’s Public Information Office about concerns parents might have when allowing their kids to go downtown for a concert.

“Alcohol or drugs are always an issue in large gatherings of juveniles and youth,” Roberson noted. However, she did not view downtown or music venues as being the problem. “Crime doesn’t discriminate,” she commented. “Drugs are an issue in South Tulsa and midtown, too.”

Roberson’s advice? Investigate and communicate. Use the Internet; talk to your friends. Get the information you need to make an informed decision for you and your child.

Ultimately, like all parenting decisions, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for your child. Talk to your teen about your concerns. Check out the venue’s website. Phone and ask them about their policies. Live music is a wonderful gift, and so is your child.

JulieJulie Wenger Watson is a freelance writer who’s worked in all aspects of music promotion. She’s also Co-Director of “Live From Cain’s,” a public radio show pilot.

Categories: Tweens & Teens