“What strikes Lazer most about the dynamic at these shows, though, is not how unexpected it is but how familiar. Long before he started D.J.-ing, he was a drummer in a series of rock bands; he is old enough to have come of age in the latter days of punk. And when he started playing shows with Freedia almost two years ago — when he started witnessing, over and over again, a same-sex group taking over the dance floor in order to perform an ecstatic act of physical aggression that is both exceptionally demanding and socially unacceptable in other contexts, at the behest of music that’s ritualized and played at seemingly impossible tempos — it all began to remind him of something.
“It’s as if punk had been reinvented for women,” he said, smiling. “I remember going to punk shows when I was 13, slam-dancing, stage-diving. It was a kind of reckless abandon, something you really couldn’t stop yourself from doing. If the girls weren’t just outright afraid of being in there, there was somebody literally shoving them out of the way. Now it’s exactly what was happening when I was young, but in reverse: the girls literally push the dudes right out of the middle. It’s just pure empowerment, physical aggression that’s not spiteful or vicious. I think it’s no accident that the slang term for a gay kid in New Orleans is ‘punk.’ It’s pretty rewarding.”