my first (and last) somewhat political cartoon
We arrived at the arena a little before two (my daughter and I had ‘Regular’ tickets to the Saturday concert which we bought at an exorbitant price off of Viagogo months ago). The stadium was literally in the middle of the desert. It was hot and sunny but we were lucky for a cool breeze and some shade. Gates to the stadium were scheduled to open at five. But from the time we were there to 5:00, girls would gather at what they decided would be the entrance and would scream at whoever in the distance they imagined was Justin Bieber, Every now and then, a staff member would come round to disperse the crowd. This was just a small harbinger of the lack of organization we were to experience that night. When the gate was finally about to open, another fiasco occurred while getting all the different ‘classes’ of Beliebers in place. First to enter would be the ‘Fan Pits’ in their blue wristbands. Second were the silver ‘Premiums’ and third was us: the puce-colored ‘Regulars’, or as I would later find out, the rifraf.
Entry at that point was into a sort of buffer area where Virgin Megastore was set up among merchandise and food booths. It must have been a sight for everyone to see hundreds of screaming girls and their poor parents running back and forth because no one knew which gates to go through to enter the stadium. At this point I lost my daughter because she ran off and I was just too tired. I briskly walked to the direction she ran, made it through the turnstiles (witnessing a pair of angry Fan Pit parents who had apparently been running back and forth trying to find the proper entrance) and found her standing against a metal barricade halfway down the stadium. It wasn’t so bad, we were closer to the stage than I had imagined. But once I got to where she stood, that was it. We had to be planted in our places, in the sun, in the middle of the dessert, until 8 o’clock. Our section soon filled up with avid Beliebers (while I was losing whatever Bieber faith I had by the sweat-soaked minute). Soon we were starting to get crushed. Girls were starting to faint. As the only ‘Mom’ in the area we were standing in, I took it upon myself to ask the security for help. ‘Please announce over the microphone that we are experiencing a crush situation and to ask people in the rear to take a step back.’ I got various responses, most of which were that if we wanted to be all nice and comfortable we should have gotten the Premium and Fan Pit tickets. Soon there were chants to ‘Open the Gates’ which-again as an adult-I tried to quell since I knew it was futile and would only serve to escalate the dire situation. Some kids jumped over the barricade. And all I kept thinking about was the Hillsborough disaster of 1989. What infuriated the fans more was the enormous gap ranging from the ‘Regular’ to the ‘Premium’ section. You’d think that the organizers would have allocated the appropriate spaces in proportion to tickets sold. I found myself in the midst of a huge social divide, where the haves had a lot more and then some, and we Groundlings were confined to tight, claustrophobic quarters. The tip of the iceberg was a group of tweeners jeering at us from the ‘Premium’ area for buying the cheaper tickets! But in all this mess, there were heroes. Two ‘Premium’ girls started distributing water to the thirsty wretched. I felt like I was a third-class passenger on the Titanic as it sank. And finally, what aggravated matters even more was Bieber’s two-hour delay. I thought: this is it, my daughter and I are going to die here tonight (I’m not being hyperbolic, there really was a danger). So ten minutes to ten o’clock, I said to my daughter that I wasn’t going to put her in danger any more and we left our coveted area. I was scared for our lives. The organization was terrible and security was a bunch of lunkheads who were clearly there to protect the VIP from us! As a mother I felt terrified.
We ended up not seeing Justin Bieber. We tried but we couldn’t see. What a waste of all the money we put into this (plane fare, hotel, food, transport). And not even an apology for being late. It makes me want to throw up. Before the concert, I just found him annoying. Now he’s someone who has affected my life. And not in a good way.
So frankly, when I heard about the attack, I thought it was by a parent.