Photo Credit: Lindsay Tigar
A few weeks ago, my friend Katie sent an email to our group of gals in New York City to sign up to win free tickets to the MTV Video Music Awards through 1iota. We figured our chances of getting selected were as low as the possibility that Miley Cyrus would wear pants, but figured it was worth a shot. With a rumored 'N Sync reunion, how could we not give it a try?
Against the odds, three out of the six of us were sent priority tickets for the pit, which is the standing area wrapping around the stage. We were warned there wouldn't be a chance to sit, eat or drink water for five hours (true story) but we would have the best view at the Barclays Center (also true).
Here's how it all went down as a pit fan for the 2013 VMAs:
2 p.m.: We chow down on a huge brunch since the next chance we will get to eat will be post-11 p.m. We only feel slightly out of place in our leather crop tops, heavy eyeliner and short skirts.
3:30 p.m.: We caught the express train from Herald Square to Brooklyn. As we get closer to the borough, we start noticing other folks dressed up and start taking notes on outfits: tons of cutouts, heavy hardware and red lips.
4 p.m.: I've lived here for almost four years, Katie has been here six and Alyssa is new (but street smart), and it takes us 30 minutes to find our holding place. I’ve never been more thankful for Google maps or felt less like a New Yorker.
4:15 p.m.: We adopt a college student who won tickets all by herself into the group. We realize she's only 18 and feel a little old.
4:30 p.m.: The 1,500 people who won tickets wait in an absurdly long line in the sun, wrapped around the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We were told to dress to impress, but quickly turned into sweaty messes.
4:45 p.m.: Note to self: leather, when hot, is sticky, uncomfortable and disgusting. Props to Madonna.
5 p.m.: The VMAs gate-keepers inspect our outfits (we passed!) and check our IDs and tickets. Then, we’re sent in groups upstairs to an auditorium to wait until it’s time to head to Barclays.
5:05 p.m.: Air conditioning and sitting down feels amazing.
5:30 p.m.: We don't want to kill our iPhone batteries, so we find other ways to pass time. Like playing “I Spy.” And a celebrity and movie-matching game. Because we’re really mature.
5:45 p.m.: We make a beeline for the bathroom since we won’t be able to leave the pit during the show. I say a little prayer that my bladder hangs in there.
6 p.m.: Katie brought Nutri-Grain bars and chips! Yay!
6:15 p.m.: They're finally starting to bring people to the show. A group of teens a few rows ahead of us get in a fight with the 1iota coordinators because their row was skipped. (It wasn't, they were just getting restless.)
6:30 p.m.: We are walking down the stairs toward the VMAs!! Officially excited now.
6:35 p.m.: We're told to use the buddy system on the walk there. It feels like kindergarten but in clubbing clothing.
6:45 p.m.: The fans outside of the VMAs are yelling and screaming and taking our photos as we walk in. Is this what it feels like to be a celeb? Awesome.
7 p.m.: Security check. Sadly, no more food.
7:05 p.m.: We walk into the arena and see the stage for the first time. It’s incredible and worth all that waiting.
7:30 p.m.: More waiting, but this time standing up. DJ Cassidy puts on an awesome pre-show, and everyone in the pit is dancing and singing along. The energy is amazing.
8 p.m.: The VMAs stage director explains how we’ll all be moved around (much like cattle, it seems) throughout the course of the show. They’re a well-oiled machine and if we get in their way, we’ll get kicked out.
8:15 p.m.: The section where the celebs sit (to the right of the front stage) is completely empty 45 minutes before the show starts.
8:40 p.m.: Finally, celebs start arriving! From where we stand, we can see Macklemore, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Selena Gomez and Ciara arrive (she was hard to miss in that dress!). To spot a celeb though, we had to check out blogs covering their arrivals to see what they were wearing. They’re surprisingly hard to recognize from afar.
9 p.m.: Show time! Lady Gaga walks out and the crowd pushes us closer to the stage. She’s not only in killer shape (that thong was even more impressive in person), but her performance was seamless.
9:02 p.m.: Gaga is still performing, my foot is crushed underneath a sneaker, someone has their arm resting on my hip, I'm spooning a stranger, and I’m cursing the tall people right in front of us.
9:10 p.m.: One Direction comes out to present the first award. A girl probably five years older than me screams “Harry!” about 10 times right in my ear. (Did I mention I’m 25?)
9:17 p.m.: After almost being mauled by the crowd, we decide to find different spots. During a stage re-set (you can’t see it on TV, but there’s a giant hole in the crowd where the cameras are), we make it to the right of the front stage. We have more than enough dancing room, it’s cooler and the crowd is older. Score.
9:22 p.m.: No more phone! We see people getting kicked out every few minutes for trying to take pictures of celebs. We turn ours off and focus on the experience. (Best choice of the night.)
9:23 p.m.: Miley leaves the crowd really unsure of what to do. There’s so much going on: teddy bear fairies in leotards are throwing out candy to the crowd, and with all the twerking, we don’t know where to look but just can’t look away. Now she’s humping something -- wait, what is that? What is she humping? Her tongue won’t stay in her mouth -- how is she singing like that? What is she doing?
9:25 p.m.: It just doesn’t stop. It won’t stop.
9:30 p.m.: OMG, make it stop. Miley is twerking with Robin Thicke and the naked girls from his video are there. OMG. Miley and Robin Thicke. It is entertaining but in the most uncomfortable way imaginable.
9:35 p.m.: I’m pretty sure Lil’ Kim is on stage. But all I can see is her booty.
9:45 p.m.: Terribly disappointed Kim Kardashian doesn’t make a guest appearance with Kanye West. North West could have come too! What you can’t tell from the video of his performance is just how far away he is from that forest backdrop. And that he is wearing an all-green, jersey-like get-up.
9:58 p.m.: I (admittedly) kind of love Taylor Swift, but did she really need to call out Harry Styles? (Although the chance to publicly, internationally, embarrass your ex sounds kind of awesome in theory.)
10 p.m.: My. Feet. Hurt. So. Bad.
10:05 p.m.: OMG. It’s Justin Timberlake!!!! The crowd is jumping up and down and screaming. My friends and I are eagerly waiting for 'N Sync to (maybe, hopefully, probably) come on stage.
10:10 p.m.: JT is so sexy. Why is Jessica Biel not here? If I were his wife, I’d always be there (just saying).
10:15 p.m.: 'N Sync!!!!!!!!!!
10:16 p.m.: My inner 13-year-old is flipping out and instantly remembers all the dance moves to “Bye Bye Bye.” Legit almost started crying when they came on stage.
10:30 p.m.: Love that JT got the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Love Jimmy Fallon, too. P.S.: They’re both taller than you’d expect.
10:40 p.m.: Yikes. One Direction is booed from every section of the arena. My friends agree that “Best Song Ever” is not the best song of the summer, but keep quiet. T-Swift makes no comment -- this time.
10:42 p.m.: Could really use a hot dog right about now.
10:45 p.m.: Feels like I’m witnessing history when Macklemore performs “Same Love.” Barclays is cast in amber light, while everyone sways. It’s pretty magical and the perfect follow-up to JT. Love is love.
11 p.m.: Drake is super-hot.
11: 07 p.m.: No, Bruno Mars doesn’t just look short because he’s standing next to Taylor Swift -- he really is just a little man. A little man who puts on a crazy show with fireballs, gorillas and green strobe lighting.
11:10 p.m.: Yay, JT! "Mirrors" definitely deserved Video of the Year honors. When my future kids one day talk about the VMAs show with that Justin Timberlake guy, I’ll be the cool mom who can say she was there.
11:15 p.m.: Though we love Katy Perry, her performance is actually on the Brooklyn Bridge, and our necks hurt so bad from staring up at the big screen, so we leave early to beat the crowds.
11:35 p.m.: After waiting in line to leave, holding hands to get through the crowd without losing each other and finally spotting an exit, we’re finally outside!
11:40 p.m.: We catch the train back to our apartments, and even though our legs hurt from standing for five hours straight, we’re still so pumped from the music we can’t calm down.
Verdict: Totally worth it, and I would totally do it again. But maybe next year, I can have a press pass?