Friday, April 17, 2009

It's Britney, bitches.

Halfway through my recent visit to Reno, I took a vacation-within-a-vacation. A road-trip, actually. With my sister. TO SEE BRITNEY SPEARS IN CONCERT! Okay, so really that was the whole reason for my trip. I promised the grandparents 10 full days of Liam if someone would please please! keep him overnight so I could simultaneously regress (a road trip with my sister! big gulps and orange slices! clove cigarettes!) and move forward with my most recent hobby (going to pop shows is kind of our new thing). What grandparent in their right mind would possibly say no to that?

Moose (or Molly as Liam now calls her) and I started our trip at 7-11 where a half-hearted attempt at recreating that Aerosmith video with Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler (if only in my mind) quickly took a dive as I realized making a Slurpee look sexy is no where near as easy as those girls made it look.

That buff guy behind me looks impressed! Oh...that's a poster.

The cashier did ask us if we wanted to see his pride and joy (literally a picture of the cleaning products he's had in his wallet for 20 years) and when we asked him for a pack of cloves (!) he took it as an invitation to personally ensure we chose the right brand. We wanted to be like, Dude we're not smokers, this is just a nostalgia thing, but instead we were like, We just love those Djarum Specials!

Don't look so smug - fountain Cokes are easy.

In case you've never made the short trip from Reno to Sacramento, here's what it looks like:

With a little of this thrown in for good measure:

Singing a Sleeper song off-key (aka - harmonizing with me).

Rocking my new $5 shades - just like the one's Madonna wore!

Once we were definitely in California (palm trees are a dead giveaway), we got off the freeway to see if we could find the orange slices or cinnamon bears 7-11 didn't have (road trip essentials from the good ol' days!). While we were at it, we decided to tear open that pack of cloves and really kick things off.

The fact that we were smoking in a church parking lot in the middle of the day while a couple of teenage boys circled us on their skateboards wondering what the h-e-double hockey sticks we were doing made our pit stop feel that much more awesome.

We heart road-trips!

We got back on the road and after a slight detour where we almost kinda sorta but not really (really) got lost, we found our hotel.

Orange slices taste good like 1996.

Once we arrived, we realized we didn't actually have that much time to get ready. I mean we did and we didn't. We did if getting ready simply meant showering, getting dressed and doing our hair and makeup. But on a special sister bonding trip that centers around, among other things, Miss Britney Spears? Where getting ready means not just putting on clothes but choosing an outfit and having a preemptive dance party and drinking vodka and possibly experimenting with fake eyelashes? No. For conditions like that we could have used at least three more hours.

But, we made do with what we had and took turns eating take-out burritos over the kitchen sink and hogging the bathroom mirror. Finally, with enough time for a second toast to the new Queen of Pop and a couple last minute phone calls to friends who might know of a good dance club for after the show, we were ready to go.

This is truly impressive if you consider the fact that this whole road-trip actually began at Charlotte Russe where we spent far too much time perusing adolescent frocks and cheapy baubles, trying on anything and everything we could shove into a dressing room, walking out with bags full of potential party clothes that we later tried on again and again for a brief but entertaining hotel room fashion show before folding everything up with the tags still on and sticking it all back in the bags to be returned at a later date. At least we tried.

Oh, how we tried.

As much as I wanted to be the kind of girl who gets all costumed up for a concert, I just couldn't pull the trigger. Remember, I'm fairly new to the whole pop show circuit. How am I to know if people go all out like that? Especially, and I hate to say this to myself, 31 year old people. I didn't want to feel embarrassed or do that thing where all night long you're like, Are you sure I look OK? It's hard enough to pull off hot pink tights but if you're not 100% on top of your game, forget about it. More than anything though I just didn't want to spend the whole night sucking it in or feeling anything less than ready-to-rock. If I wasn't going to wear heels for the sake of dancing, I may as well make sure the rest of my outfit was comfortable, too.

As soon as we got down to the lobby of the hotel, we got an answer to our how far is too far? clothing quandary. It had just dawned on us that we probably should have taken a cab to the show to avoid parking (nothing like a cab sitting there waiting for someone else to make that light bulb go off) and were asking the woman at the check in counter what she thought we should do when four girls dressed in totally hot circus-inspired ensembles strutted around the corner and toward their cab. Our first reaction was to gawk and smack each other (I told you we should have dressed like that!); our second was to hurry after them and ask for a ride.

As soon as we jumped in, we realized we had zero cash.

Since the decision to take a cab had been completely haphazard, we not only felt like a couple of under-dressed freeloaders (we slipped some money under the girls' door the next morning), we were also stuck carrying the big purse with all the stuff we intended to leave in the car. My one chance to get out-and-about without a bag full of baby wipes and graham crackers and I totally blew it. Luckily I was able to convince Moose to hold it most of the night because I was "too tall". Sometimes I really love being the big sister.

We had everything we could possibly need...
except matches and a car.


From the moment we got out of the cab and apologetically said goodbye to our new friends, we were in the zone. The crowd outside the concert was incredible. It was overwhelmingly female and we seemed to fit in perfectly age-wise. The girls we caught a ride with were just a few of many who understood that at a pop show, sometimes you wear a costume. My favorite were the groups with each girl dressed like a different Britney - the one with the snake, the one with the school girl uniform, the one with the sexy secretary hair...

Before the show started, we got a quick drink. Tequila, by default.

A short line right next to the ATM? Mas tequila, por favor!

We got to our seats in time to catch the tail end of The Pussycat Dolls who put on one heck of a lively show. Even though I only know them from that song in that Heineken commercial (Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me...), I was still on my feet, screaming and dancing the entire time. I couldn't help myself; the crowd was toxic. I swear, the energy in that place could have made even the stodgiest old fart jump up and shake a tail feather.

Between The Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears there was an honest-to-god circus that kept everyone enthralled and on the edge of our seats. It really was the Greatest Show on Earth and made those Barnum & Bailey hacks look like a tent-full of...clowns. They had all the stuff I like best - contortionists, hula hoopers, gymnasts; and none of the stuff I don't - clowns, sad looking animals, annoying ringmasters. My most favorite was a girl on a balance beam suspended between two men. She would bounce a few times and then fly into the air, twisting this way and that before landing perfectly back on the beam. Amazing!

The bartender said, "You want salt? It's purple. For the kids."

By this point we were totally freaking out. We were like this close to seeing Britney Spears. Okay, not like seeing her seeing her (our seats weren't close enough for that), but experiencing her. Live. In concert. Probably just dancing around to recorded music but still. Still. It's Britney-freaking-Spears. How close do you want to get?

We were one click of the mouse (and a hundred dollars or so...) away from having floor seats. Had we known pop shows sell out so quickly we might just have gone for it. But we hesitated. Once and the floor seats were gone; twice and level one was gone. If we hadn't bought our tickets when we did, we might not have seen the show at all. Initially we were kicking ourselves about our upper deck seats and thinking oops, we did it again. We had to sit in the nose bleeds for Madonna and, while still an awesome show, it lacked a little of the wow! factor a closer seat may have delivered. We had to sit down for most of the songs to avoid blocking the view for the fuddy-duddies behind us and didn't have as much fun as we assumed that we would. Fortunately for us, at Britney, location hardly mattered a bit.

From the second she took the stage, the auditorium was like a dance club. I doubt a single tush ever touched down. (Except during the slow song, of course. But there was only one! And it was the one with the video where she drowns in the bathtub - not too bad as far as pop ballads are concerned.) Everyone was on their feet, dancing, singing along and screaming - I'm surprised I didn't lose my voice. She played almost all the hits - even Baby One More Time! - and danced her ass off the entire show (from where we sat, the girl looked good). Every song left us screaming gimme more (which was one hit she didn't play - perhaps the VMAs left a bad taste in her mouth?) and were completely blown away by every bit of the show.

At one point it hit us that, while touted as a concert, what we were witnessing was really no more than a really good dance recital. We were obviously fine with that and wouldn't have even thought about it at all except for the fact that we had just had a long conversation about Oops I Did it Again, and were still perplexed as to why in the world that talking part with the guy and the diamond and the Titanic has to be in the song. And not just the cheesy radio version, but every version we've ever heard. We were so curious to see if it would be in the concert or not. You know, since she's not really singing anyways would she just have to make due with the whole well baby, I swam down there and got it for you bit because a version without it simply DOES NOT exist.

We're pretty sure that's why she skipped the song.

But the show. The show! Whoever produced this tour is a creative genius. There were acrobatics and fireworks and a ring of fire and 10 tons of confetti. Everywhere we looked were amazing dancers and circus performers (throughout the show) and at one point there was some kind of dance-off between all the different back-up dancers (indulge me, why don't you?!). Video screens formed a circle around the top of the main ring (the stage was set up like a 3 ring circus in the round) but instead of just showing a close up of the main performer (who was not even pretending to lip sync), the video became yet another element of the show. During one costume change, we were treated to a video of Britney and a bunch of other circus types rolling around all hot and bothered to Marilyn Manson's version of Sweet Dreams. Go on, Brit; get there. ("Get there" is kind of an inside joke with my sister. It has something to do with a cow poke stance and 90210. Oh, nevermind. Just watch the darn video.)



By the end of the show we were so riled up we didn't know what to do with ourselves. We made an immediate beeline for the exit as if we had some place exciting to go and a car to take us there. Of course, we didn't have either one. What we did have were cigarettes and lots of them. Finding a lighter proved trickier than we imagined (apparently the word has gotten out - smoking causes cancer) so once we got a light we didn't dare let it go out. For a couple of non-smokers, we sure had a lot of fun chain smoking! (It's like it's addictive or something.)

The people who lit our first cigarette also told us about a gay club we should go to if we wanted to dance. We probably should have asked them for a ride but didn't think of it until much, much later. We were too caught up in the excitement of finding a lighter and a club to think of anything else at all.

As time went on we realized the lack of car thing was a real problem. In our haste to leave the building, we neglected to notice that we were rushing out the back door. We just sat there, people watching (like watching them leave) and wondering why not a single Sacramento cab company had thought to cruise by Arco Arena to see if any Britney fans needed a ride. If we had walked a quarter of the way around the building we would have been like, oh, there are all the cabs, but we didn't. Instead we sat in the loading zone, chain smoking and laughing at ourselves, waiting for the cab driver I talked to on the phone who made me promise we would wait for him so he wouldn't waste his time driving all the way to Arco for nothing. Anytime we'd see a car (any car!), my sister would motion to it like, Well, should I see about getting us a ride or should we just stand here smoking and freezing our asses off all night? and I'd have to remind her that I had made a gentleman's agreement with a cab driver and would have to stick to my word no matter how ridiculous it was.

Alone but not lonely.

We weren't totally bummed about our situation. For one, it was kind of hilarious. Stuck in a loading zone a mile from our car but afraid to walk 10 feet this way or that because of a gentleman's agreement with an unknown cab driver? Oops! We did it again! (No, it never got old.) Plus, it was kind of exciting watching the entire show unload and drive past us in unmarked semis. A couple of 9 year old girls waiting with their moms by the loading ramp are totally sure we saw Britney's bus too so that's pretty cool. We hooped and hollared along with them and held our still-lit cigarettes in the air to mimic their awesome collection of light up souvenirs. That never would have happened if we'd gone out the front door.

We finally got a cab (no, not the one I had promised to wait for - he never could find us and had to let me out of the agreement) and it took us all the way across town to the club. Or technically, first to an ATM, then to the club (apparently we have a bad habit of getting into cabs with no idea where we're going and not a cent to our names). The ride cost us $40 which totally sucked because: a) we weren't nearly drunk enough to need a cab (we'd been in the loading zone a LONG time), and b) we knew it would cost us another $40 to get back to our hotel.

Not the type to dwell on the negative, we quickly picked ourselves and our big purse up and got on to the business at hand: dancing. This may come as a surprise (I know I was surprised) but this was my very first time dancing at a gay club. It seemed a lot like a non-gay club but with a whole lot more gray area. For instance, at a non-gay club I don't think I'd let a guy dance with me at all. But at a gay club, that line starts to blur. I mean, if a guy is gay, what difference does it make if he dances with me? None at all as far as I can tell. Here's where it gets tricky: there's no way of telling who's gay and who's straight. I would have just assumed all the guys there were gay except the guy who first danced with my sister told her that he was totally gay while his friend (who was dancing with me) was totally straight. She grabbed me immediately and we went outside so she could fill me in. Thank goodness we were smokers for the night! I can't count the number of times we had to excuse ourselves from the dance floor for yet another cigarette. We couldn't tell if it was the same two guys who continued to dance with us or if everyone at the club looked kind of the same. Either way, we figured it was better to be safe than sorry with totally straight guys in the mix.

Not only did we have a great time dancing, taking tequila shots and smoking, we were also treated to an eye-full of amazing people watching (we couldn't look away from the young man in boxer briefs and sneakers who alternated between dancing on a platform and hanging suggestively from the rafters). But for me, the best part of the club was the very last song (and no, not just because my tired old ass couldn't take much more dancing). We were on a dance floor that had really started to clear out when that song Don't You Want Me came on. While it may not be a particularly funny song, the fact that Molly and I made a home movie of ourselves singing and dancing to it for our parent's anniversary gift one year had us bent over in a fit of what were we thinking? giggles. The video consisted mainly of us taking turns doing really fast kick turns off of the couches while the other one sang in a high pitched, warbly voice I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar... Since it was the last song at the club that night, there was enough room on the dance floor for us to spread out and semi-recreate our video. It gave us enormous glee to be so publicly ridiculous.

If it hadn't been for the eighty bucks spent on unnecessary cab rides (even after tequila shots at the club, we still never got our buzz on), it would have been the most perfect road-trip in road-trip history.

Nothing like a nice hot soak after a heavy night of dancing.
We call it The Afterburner.

8 comments:

Moose said...

You recreated the trip perfectly! I had such a great time. The chain smoking is similar in function to the "small rations" of soda we had to take in between overly dramatic fainting spells walking home from Scolari's. We have so much fun together!!!

Katie said...

I rushed home from the first Aces game, totally fun by the way, in the hopes that you had posted your blog! Awesome, I can't stop laughing over a few parts, particularly the 7-11 pride and joy guy, chain smoking and no cash. Happens to me all the time. Thanks ladies, glad you had a good time!

katie said...

Oh yeah, one more thing. I have driven to or through Sac a gazillion times and where are those palm trees??????

LClaire said...

too fun! I'm so glad you had a blast!! It seems I need to be attending more pop shows:)

Anna said...

i love it! i've been anxiously waiting for the britney blog. :) so glad you had a great trip....let's hang sometime soon!

CelinaQ said...

Totally rad and totally cute! I wish I had a sister!

And Maggie, your images are very captivating. I particularly liked the one through your sunglasses.

:D CQ

Halie said...

Thanks for always showing us that you can be a great mom- and have lots of un-mom fun at the same time (and for letting me live vicariously through your concert experiences since I haven't been to one in.....about 3 years!)!!

sawaya said...

I AM SO JEALOUS!!! Not only Britney, but also Madonna. OMG I would just die!
:)