Safety and Family First

Yesterday morning, I woke up excited because I was seeing One Direction at the Jimmy Kimmel Concert on Hollywood Boulevard.

Last night, I went to bed shaking because I was hit with an asthma attack and a panic attack at the concert that took the breath right out of my lungs.

For all the fans that waited to see One Direction live at Jimmy Kimmel, I am sure we can agree on one thing – the hectic atmosphere and the disorganization was something we hope to never go through again.

Yesterday was filled with a lot of wild experiences and I’ve collected a number of lessons from each one. But out of all the information I’ve gathered, I learned that nothing is more important than my safety and my health – even if Louis Tomlinson is only ten feet in front of me.

Safety and Family First 3

Rewind a little to the morning – I had a healthy and hearty breakfast that consisted of pancakes at Denny’s before making the trek to Hollywood Boulevard a little before 10 AM. Once my friends and I arrived, we see a line consisting of possibly two hundred people turning the corner of where the stage is. Two hundred people in front of us out of the 6000 fans to come? That didn’t seem bad at all, especially because my friends and I had Priority tickets while majority of the line in front of us were general. Excited, we obediently got in line.

That was the calm before the storm.

Fast forward a couple hours, it is half past noon. Now, there are several thousands fans in line and the staff decides to make an announcement: They are killing the line because it was never officially enforced by security.

The announcement was followed by inevitable chaos.

We see fans running from the back of the line to the front, fans sprinting across the street to get closer to the barricaded areas, and fans crying out in conflict because what is going on?

Yes, the fine print said that there would be no official line until 1:30 PM. And yes, the fans lined up ages before the designated time. But was disregarding the fan-established line really such a wise idea?

After they sent everyone off, we had thousands of dedicated fans roaming and pushing through Hollywood Boulevard trying to figure out what is happening and where to go and why there is nowhere to wait.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to my friends and me and all the other fans with Prority tickets – surprise! There’s another line on the other street! Sucks that no one told you, because now you have to wait behind hundreds of other people even though you were the first couple in line!

Some readers may see this as a trivial argument, but I believe this is a point worth establishing.

The fans who braved through the night before lost their spot in the front of the line, and the fans who barely arrived minutes before managed to be front row. Is that really fair?

No one complained because we knew our cries wouldn’t be heard. We made the best of what we got because at least we will get to see our boys.

The duration from the time the “new” line started to the moment the check-in began was a wait of four hours in a hot and sticky line. It wasn’t that intolerable, because what else did you expect from a general admission One Direction concert?

During the wait, the workers took the care to hand out water to the fans which was very much appreciated. Fully hydrated and refreshed, everyone was alright. Second round of chaos was when soundcheck began. Out of nowhere, you can hear Louis practicing his lines in Perfect and Niall laughing on stage. People are now pushing, cutting, and clawing their ways to the front of the barricades even though the boys were not visible to the crowd. Fans are now bothered by the even extra amount of people in front of them in line, but all the fans took the moment to simply listen to our four favorite members rehearse.

Once soundcheck ends, it is calm again, but no one is in his or her original spot.

Fast forward to the actual show, my friends and I are in a crowd of a couple hundred glued to the stage and glued to each other. It was hot and it was stuffy and I felt thoroughly uncomfortable by the numbers of bodies pressed up against me, but I kept reminding myself that this was the closest I’ve ever been to the stage. The stage handler had to repeat several times for the crowd to take a couple steps back and I desperately wished they would listen. I had no right to complain because this was something I signed up for. I knew that at the end of the day, seeing the boys walk onto stage and perform so close to me would be worth it.

Once the boys stepped on stage, it felt as if I flew five feet forward. People were pushing even though there was nowhere to push to. It was heavily uncomfortable, but I couldn’t care less because LouisHarryNiallLiam were right there and they’re singing songs from Made in the A.M. and I couldn’t believe my ears.

I could hear the four boys harmonize and belt their hearts out perfectly fine, but I had one small problem. I’m quite short, and everyone in front of me was quite tall. Moreover, everyone in front of me seemed pretty adamant to film the whole show on their phones.

Like most One Direction fans, I am affected by tunnel vision. I have tunnel vision for my favorite member of the band. There were three other members of the band prancing around on stage right in front of me, but still I stood on my tip toes and attempted to peek through the armholes of the fans in front of me just to catch a glimpse of Louis on the total opposite side sway in front of his mic. Except, the fans in front of me too tall that I just ended watching Louis through the phone of the guy in front of me. Thank you for constructing my view Sir, but thank you for recording Louis. It was not an ideal view, but it was a view nonetheless.

I felt a little fuzzy throughout the whole show, but it was enjoyable because my favorite people were right there. However, during their last song of the night, No Control, I started to feel constricted. I was being pushed from all sides. I could see nothing but the back in front of me, I had hair in my mouth that was not mine, and I had an arm resting on my head. It was funny, because the only thing that could breathe was my arm because I stuck it out from the crowd so I could at least film what I couldn’t see (looking back, the video came out quite nice, but I should’ve gotten out while I had the chance). The world was moving in circles around me and my heart was getting tighter and I felt anxiety building up inside of me, but I tried my best to “suck it up” and make it through the last song because who knows when I am going to see my heroes again?

On the bright side, I made it through the song in one piece. On the downwards side, I almost didn’t. The boys started talking after the song ended, but as much as they mean to me, I knew I had to get out. I turned around, but I was surrounded by a block of bodies that would not let me through. My friend looked confused in my change of direction, but I couldn’t find my voice to tell her what was wrong.

I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but something snapped.

All of a sudden, I was screaming and begging people to let me through, yelling at them and telling them please I’m claustrophobic because I felt so restrained. “Claustrophobic” was the wrong word to describe it, but it was the only word that came to mind at the moment. It was not the crowd that scared me, but what the crowd restricted me of that affected me so badly.

I haven’t had an panic attack since I was in grade school, and after ten years clear of triggers, the last place I was expecting to get it was at a One Direction concert.

It was hazy and I remember close to nothing. I don’t remember when the show ended and I don’t remember when the boys walked off stage.

But I do remember standing frozen until someone held my hand and told me that it was okay and to breathe. I do remember someone else fighting through the crowd for me, yelling at anyone who refused to move out of the way. I remember someone leading me to the barricades and I remember someone lifting me over and I remember someone climbing over with me and hugging me and rubbing my back until I could breathe again.

I remember how scared I was because anxiety and asthma? It’s an ugly combination.

It is still a blur, but I remember standing on the other side of everything watching the crowd clear. I remember collecting my thoughts back together and being very confused because when did the show end? 

I remember being really shaken up about it.

But most of all, I remember how touched I was by the sincerity of the handful of fans that witnessed my incident. The security? The crew? The staff? “Yeah, just a 17-year-old girl having an anxiety attack – possibly an asthma attack, too – but no big deal. Let’s just let the other fans in the crowd handle it.”

But the fans handled it with a care that I did not expect. The woman that helped me over the barricade hugged with me until I stopped shaking. Countless amounts of fans offered me water and countless amounts of fans walked over to make sure I was okay. While the crowd was leaving towards the exit, some fans headed in the total opposite direction towards me.

“I saw it all happen, and I just had to make sure you were safe.”

I don’t remember the face of the girl that said that, but I hope she knows just how much it meant to me. I hope this article finds its way to every single one of the fans that lent me a hand, because these are the fans that I consider family.

Overall, the night was eventful.

Was it a good show? Of course it was, I saw Louis, Harry, Niall, and Liam sing right before me!

Could it have been better? Of course it could’ve, but nothing is perfect.

After last night, I have gained a new found respect for One Direction fans. We are a fandom filled with great diversity, but big love. All these strangers that took care of me weren’t strangers at all. We are a large family that work hand in hand with the boys.

One word to describe my experience at Jimmy Kimmel concert is wild, but it was more than wild – it is unforgettable. My love for these four boys continue to soar, but my appreciation for everyone in the fandom has increased tenfold. No one has a more powerful bond than we do.

The stage for the concert was a puzzle piece, the boys fitting in with the fans as our other half. With the boys and each other, we can be the greatest team that the world has ever seen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xm2flv1cbRc

 

Written by Laura Huynh

California gal studying media and entertainment at UC Berkeley. Big fan of music, and big believer in Fate. Feel free to call me, beep me at laurahuynh17@gmail.com or @laurahuynh. xx