My mother and I have always loved Shania Twain. We blast her songs in the car and manage to scream over Shania's wails. We've done it my whole life. Shania has something of a mythic status in my family. I never learned the lyrics to her songs. They're in my blood, it feels like. Which is why I helped organize--and pay for--a trip to Las Vegas to see her for my mom's birthday. I just knew that it would be one of the best concerts of my life. And I wasn't disappointed.
But this isn't a concert review. This is a story. A story about passion and nerdiness and how purely, unabashedly loving something can pay off sometimes.
It begins with a little bit of backstory, or, rather context. You see, my parents are strange people who spend money on strange things. They won't pay their bills on time for months, but they'll buy a new speedboat. They'll go on weeks long vacations, but be too cheap to buy paper towel. And they'll almost always pay for concerts. As a result, I've seen a lot of them, Great Big Sea in particular, a band with such amazing fans and such joyous, lively concerts. People jump and dance and clap and scream and it is always so much freaking fun. Some concerts I go to, however, are…more demure. More strange. One Martina McBride concert, in particular, stands out. My dad and I go expecting an excited crowd, but instead, Happy Girl comes and all it gets is a polite applause. Like really, people? It's Happy Girl! And why did you come all this way, why did you pay for these tickets, why are you spending time here if you don't love Happy Girl?!?!?
Going into the Shania concert, I wasn't sure what to anticipate from the crowd. Given that this was a Caesar's Palace show, I figured there would be some people who had just come because that's what you do in Vegas. I figured most hadn't come from as far as Toronto, certainly. So, I knew the crowd wouldn't fall on the Great Big Sea end of the crowd passion spectrum. But I thought that, since the tickets were pretty expensive, the crowd reaction would be closer to GBS than Martina McBride. And I was soon realized I was wrong. And then I decided I didn't care. And I danced and screamed and cheered as loud as I could anyways. Because I had come all this way and I had listened to these songs for so long. And yeah, I was self conscious for a bit, but, soon, I didn't care. I was proud of my passion. Because it's whole lot more fun to passionate and excited and out of control in love with something than it is to respectfully clap every once and a while. So, as Shania sang I'm Gonna Getcha Good and Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under and the crowd around me sat stone faced, I threw myself into the music. These were not just songs I listened to, after all. They flowed through my veins.
This being Caesar's Palace, even $150 dollars each only bought us fairly nosebleed seats, but really, I didn't care. I was just so happy to hear Shania. Seeing her up close was an afterthought entirely. I was over the moon, even if I was a million miles away. I had been waiting for this my whole life. I wasn't going to waste a second of it.
Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. The usher lady wanted to speak to me in the hall. I was freaked out, but I figured I had broken some rule. Standing too much. Cheering too much. I had the wrong seats. Whatever. Being a fairly loud, socially awkward person, this happens in my life. Mostly, I was annoyed that I had to miss part of Don't Impress Me Much. But then the usher explained that I had seemed so into to the show and that there were some empty seats down on the first level and would I like them? The answer in my head was instantly yes. And yes, I had that terrible person moment, considering if I could go down without my mother. But when I explained I was with someone, she didn't blink an eye. Of course, in retrospect, I guess they wouldn't just offer one seat. Most people go to concerts with another person. But in the moment, it all felt so unreal that logic had kind of left the building. In all the concerts I've been to in my life, nothing like this has ever happened to me. Being a short person, I've long resigned myself to not being able to see the actual musicians on stage at all, a problem which is made much worse when some person near the front of the crowd decides to hold up a Newfoundland flag for the entire show, because, apparently the band doesn't know where they're from and, bonus, this person has freakish upper body strength. That is the type of thing that happens to me. Not the "hey, you want a seat upgrade?" thing. Not ever.
So, of course, I said yes, and ran back to get my mom. Of course, I had to check to see what song she had just started. Thankfully, it was only a really good one and not a great one. Still, I had to resist the urge to run down to the first level. As I forced myself to walk, I ran the lyrics in my head. There was no way I was missing more than one song. Especially since there was no knowing what the next one would be.
They forced us to wait outside until a song break, which was deadly. I decided to take the moment to go to the bathroom, though that nearly killed. I literally sprinted to the bathroom and back. I was not missing more than one song. Over my dead body. When I made it back (in time!), everyone was staring at some guy at the other first level entrance. Shania's husband, apparently. Which was a little weird.
Anyways, I was thinking they were going to put us somewhere near the back of the first level. Still a significant distance from the stage. But when the usher girl FINALLY let us back in, she placed in the first section! The back of the first section but still. Those are still freaking $500 seats. That people had bought and not bothered to show up for! And besides, it turned out to be great positioning, because Shania actually walked up and down the aisles. Meaning, at one point, she was less than a foot away from me! She was shaking people's hands, and I had even worked up the courage to offer her mine, but she turned her back to me just as she passed. But, dear god, who cares? Shania freaking Twain was less than a foot from me! And I was the first section at her concert! Nothing else in the whole world mattered in that moment.
And yeah, the concert went off from there. They dropped confetti, which, on the first level, I could actually catch. And I could see everything. And my mom and I both enjoyed it so much. It was absolutely amazing. Way more than we ever dreamed of. All because of passion and a lack of self-consciousness. It was a great experience. And it was also so great that being passionate about something, without any shame or holding back, could actually be validated. Rewarded. In the best way I could imagine. In one of the best nights ever.
So often, I feel self-conscious about loving the things I love (don't we all?). And in that moment when I first stood up to dance, I was overcome with self-consciousness. But I am so freaking glad I ignored it, so freaking glad I allowed myself to be the insane Shania fan I am. Because, it turns out, sometimes passion does pay off. Who knew.
A lot of this post is just me insanely fan girling, at the cost of the good (or mediocre or whatever my work usually is) writing, so I'll leave you with the words of a man who is always a much better writer than me:
(Can I write a post without quoting or linking or at least referencing John Green? No matter what I say about TFIOS and nerdfighteria, I think not. But hey, it's good to be passionate about things, not matter what--or who--that thing is. Haven't you been following along?)