Yet I return frequently to Olympia and I'm always surprised at how the music, art, and entertainment of this town remain challenging to mainstream structures. Some might say this quality is made possible by a relatively low cost of living and a constant influx of new people and new ideas gravitating to and disseminating from Evergreen State College in Olympia. But I think there's more to it.
In what has become a history of the Northwest music scene, the "Olympia connection" is often overlooked, made fun of, or made to seem somehow separate from what's happened/happening in Seattle and elsewhere in the Northwest. Of course, since I'm a woman in a band who's lived in Olympia, I tend to have an interest in seeing Olympia better incorporated into Northwest music discussions.
I would like a return to these discussions, both current and historical, and to an exploration of the support, connections, and communities within the Northwest music scene. Seattle all-ages clubs have too often been the target of police harassment and shut-downs because of strict city ordinances initiated by conservative groups such as Parents in Arms. Therefore, Olympia is where many bands in the Northwest would come to get started, play shows, or develop an audience. This is certainly the case with bands like the Melvins, Nirvana, and Bikini Kill. The people in Nirvana were friends with the people in Bikini Kill; they hung out together, played music together, and shared ideas.
Most history-makers do not acknowledge the influence these girls had on the rock boys' music and lives: Why did the men get famous while the women did not? Women are often left out of professional forums for art and music, but the non-professional atmosphere of Olympia's entertainment structures encourages women to perform. The survival of the music scene in Olympia has been due to its girl-friendly nature, and the "scene" has been built and maintained by strong, active, imaginative women. It's just plain sexist when the achievements and contributions of Olympia's female artists and musicians go unnoticed or under-appreciated in the grand scheme of things.