Trouble at the line started earlier than had been reported. At 11am, before rehearsals, I finished putting my Ohno uchiwa together. Because of that, we were down one fan. With the sun directly above us, the shade we relied on had shrunk. We needed a fan each, otherwise I would have started a war. The heat made me irritable. The Bay Area have truly changed me.
So I left my party to get another uchiwa for us. By this time, concert staff had opened a merchandise booth by the concert entrance. Yeepee! I didn’t have to go far. As I walked up the street, I noticed a small bustle happening. A lady concert staff was berating a trio of Gyarus. Seriously, they were Gyarus in ruffly dresses, bleach blonde hairs, and complete doe-eyed-anime make-up. There were Gyarus cutting in line. In the damn heat!
I have nothing against Gyarus. In fact, I had once wanted to be one. If Aiba-san was willing to dedicted 7(?) episodes of his HnA segments to gyarus, hell I’d want to be a gyaru, too. And had I any tenacity to put on make-up at least two hours every morning, I would have been. I was far more tenacious sleeping through my alarm clock, though. To which the goddess of vanity cried over everyday. But I digress.
Ms. lady staff wouldn’t let them cut in line. She yelled about being unfair to the people who had been in line since six in the morning. She threatened the trio that they will not be let in the concert if they insist on staying where they had cut in. It took the Gyarus a full minute to understand how serious the lady staff was. Them slowly walking away ended the scene. Lady staff went back to her position, and everybody went back to their business. I went up to the fence, bought my uchiwa and started to walk back to our spot. In my head I was laughing at myself. That was so Filipino of me. I just had to gawk at that dramatic scene. It’s a national pastime. Halfway walking back to our spot ¨Love So Sweet¨ played. That was the fastest I ran in ages.
By 12:30 p.m., the street had crowded. Our spots were threatened by the mill of people coming from almost everywhere. At first we thought they were forming a line for the water and food vendors. But the food vendors left, and still the people converged. We watched as the line snaked around the street. We watched as a sign was passed along to the last person to arrive. It said: “End of line.” The little sign tickled my fancy. I have never seen anything like it. I was later told, in Japan they actually have a person whose sole job was to hold up a picket sign that read ¨End of line here.¨
At 1:30 p.m., rumors were passed along from the front that the staff were going to let people in early. The day before, concert had already started and there were still hundreds of people lined up outside. The concert staff were ordered to thoroughly check bags. Johnny’s rule. I mean, it’s literally their rule. This thing took too much time and held up a lot of people outside. The poor fangirls missed at least two songs.
We were hopeful the rumors would be true. Jannie and I had been waiting since 9:30 a.m on the dirt. Again—literally, since we had to sit down on dirt. Our freshness level were dangerously red. Imagine we were Sims and our diamonds were visibly maroon. Jannie changed her top in the car after eating lunch; but I had thought it’d be better to just change after we got our seats, so I just sprayed perfume all over my body. (Didn’t that proved to be a great idea! /sarcasm) That was about as fresh as we could get all throughout the day. We stank. We were bathing in our own perspiration. And we had not used the bathroom since we left the hotel. A lot of our neighbors were the same.
At 2:30 p.m., hopeful they would let us in soon, I decided to start painting my face with the flag of the Philippines. Jannie asked for her own flag, so I painted one on her cheek, too. It was just one of those moments of capriciousness I get. I wanted to be the bannerman for the Philippine faction of this fandom. At least in the Hawaiian concert. I have no idea how many Filipinos got to go to this Hawaiian adventure. I’d like to assume there were a lot. But not many would be waving our flag at a Japanese boyband, let alone wear it on their faces. I’ve always had this incessant need to be heard, to be seen, to be noticed— more so for this neglected nation in this massive fandom. The conceit was strong in this one. But, again, I digress.
The face painting was a short distraction for our party. As soon as I was done, I joined in the conversations about Johnnys and Arashi with the other girls. There was this lady who had admitted to us that she feels like she has a PhD in Johnnys Entertainment since she had been a fan since Hikaru Genji. I kneeled before her and bowed. I am not worthy. I only have a bachelor’s degree in Johnnys Entertainment.
The ground behind our spot was wet. The hot girls behind us must have spilled something because they all moved to the grass area where we were all sitting. Like us, they left one bag to mark their spot. we noticed two white girls standing in between our spot and the wet area. They were around late teens to early twenties. They moved my bag forward, which alarmed me. Why the heck were you touching my bag? But then I thought, maybe the two young girls were with the group behind us. Oh how considerate, they’re moving my bag away from the spillage. I smiled at one of the girls sitting on the grass, the one who looked like Yamada Yu. I was surprised to see that she looked at me back with disbelief and confusion. It felt like she was asking me telepathically, “are they with you?” Jannie and our two girls were also asking each other if the two girls were cutting in.
I stood up and approached the girls. I asked them politely, “Are you with anyone in the line?” They ignored me. “Because you know,” still in the most record breaking politeness anyone has ever done, “we have been waiting since 9:30 a.m.”
The girls finally responded, but refused to look at me. “Oh is this not the end of the line?” the prettier one said.
“Ohno, honey,” I told her with a pout, “the line ends waaaaay over there.” I pointed at the other side of the street. I had no idea where the end of the line was at that point. I didn’t think anybody knew where it was, actually.
Both girls stomped away from us disgruntled. Everybody on the grass stood up and hurriedly went back to the line to secure their spots. Jannie and our girls were teasing me for being straightforward and gutsy shooing the line-jumpers away. I asserted the politeness of my voice, to which Yamada Yu confirmed. The matriarch from the Japanese family behind us cut through the hot girls and asked me, “You been here since 9:30, ne?” I said yes, and she went back to her group telling them it was fine. I’m not sure if they thought I was a line jumper, too, or they just don’t remember me. But, from there on, we would randomly hear “Firipin-jin” (Filipino) in their Japanese sentences.
At 3:00 p.m. K & E left to use the bathroom. 45 minutes later the line started to move. I remember this because I texted K about it. People were getting a lot more antsy because of the rumors. It was almost 4:00 p.m.; we should have been inside by now if the rumors were true. The line jumpers grew in numbers. They weren’t teen-agers anymore. There were women. MEN. Parents with kids. The madness had taken over. It got really ridiculous. And it sparked the ire of the patriarch from that Japanese family behind us.
Our spot in the line was the most attractive to line-jumpers. We were at the very end of the first layer: not too conspicuous, but still near enough get in early. The only barricade the event organizers have in hand runs only up to two groups ahead of us. There were no ropes or fence to separate the layers. Nothing to keep in check the legions of fans who came from all over the world (US & Canada only my butt). We were near the entrance. We were unprotected. And chaos was brewing.
And we're not even inside the concert venue yet.
Arashi / Troublemaker
Arashi / Troublemaker
Arashi Blast In Hawaii -- Part 5 -- 五里霧中
Arashi Blast In Hawaii -- Part 6 -- Eyes with Delight