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Arashi Blast In Hawaii -- Part 4 -- Hero

Unlike the first day (allegedly), the concert staff checked bags an hour before they let people in; and they did it while we were standing in line and not while we were entering the concert grounds. Unlike the thorough search the day before, they looked inside the bags and moved on to the next person in line. My camera was in the bag, and they didn’t even notice it. But then it was inside a Big Bang pouch (traitor!) and hiding between my make-up items. The guy who looked into my bag — same guy who kept on shouting “Arashi!” earlier that day.

Less than 15 minutes later, another set of staff came by to give out our tickets. To deter scalpers, staff had portable credit card swipers/ticket printers. Tickets will only print for the credit card concert goers used online to reserve their tickets. Anybody who didn’t bring their credit card would not be given a ticket. Pretty impressive, in my opinion. None of the staff checked for I.D. though. So it didn’t matter if your credit card was issued from U.S. or Canada or anywhere in the world. If you had access to Ticketmaster link, then you could have gotten a ticket. Jannie bought our tickets all the way from the Philippines. Ironically, I was in North California, and I couldn’t reserve a ticket. I have 0 luck in lotteries.

K & E’s friend arrived while we were getting the tickets. She tried to get her ticket(s) from the lady who gave us ours. But the lady staff probably noticed she cut in line and refused to give it to her. This staff lady was very strict, and really cranky. Lucky for her, there was another staff member who came by a few minutes later and gave her tickets. She asked us if they could cut in line, but I couldn’t say yes. If she were alone, I would have let her. But adding two or more people would have been noticeable. The crowd was already at their limit. Any more aggravation would have started a dirty, dirty fight.

The pushing and shoving got worse as soon as movement started. It was becoming dangerous. The crowd had the making of an angry mob. It was going to be a stampede or a riot. Either way, it was alarming. My primary concern was to protect the people around me. I have a hero complex. I couldn’t help it. So I used myself as a shield against the second layer being pushed by the third layer and a wide array of line jumpers. Yes me. All five-fee and 120 pounds of me.

I wasn’t the only one. Otousan from the family behind us had had enough. He lashed out at all the line jumpers and pushed people back. He shouted orders — told everyone to protect our spot; to protect the line; told everyone to make sure we knew who was ahead of us. He used himself as a barricade against unwelcomed intruders. He made sure that everyone before us, and up to his family got in fine. A lot of people applauded him. Mostly us. We started calling him ¨Hero-san.¨

I spoke to the Chinese group before K&E (by this time, I’ve already considered K&E part of my group) and asked them if there were anybody ahead of them they didn’t recognize. I asked the girls behind us if they were already complete, and assured them I wouldn’t let anyone cut in line before us. Then the line moved. As we moved, the second layer stayed unmoving. I watched the second layer as I walked forward. We knew it was because of the chaos in the back — the part that we had just left behind. I feel sorry for them. But a hero can only do so much.

Right at the gate, we were stopped. There was a blockage at the neck. The inner gate couldn’t keep up with the speed and number of people getting in. It left no space for us who were still outside, so the outer gate held us up. The staff at the outer gate were as exasperated as we were. They kept on calling in through their walkie-talkies to find out what was keeping them, but no one could tell where the problem laid. SNAFU at its finest.

As we waited for the outer gate to let us in, a heated exchange between the staff and the second layer ensued. It was hot and humid; the line was not moving; and 5:30 was fast approaching. The fans were at their limit. Their tempers were all rising. People at the barricade were being squished by the throng of fans behind them. So many people yelling at the staff. And the staff members were yelling back. Someone raised the problem of line-jumpers at the end of the first layer. A lady staff sent Mr. Arashi-yeller to the back of the line to see what was happening there. A young girl was breaking down and had her mother worried. Apparently she had agoraphobia and was having a panic attack. (I later read about this girl in tumblr, and made me wonder — how many hikikomori Arashi fans are there? Gosh, there seems to be a lot of us.) The staff lady refused to let the girl in, but she did call for a first aid to help the girl.

We left the dispute in the middle of it. As soon as the gates opened, we ran. We ran like our lives depended on it. The line broke up. I lost track of K&E. I lost track of the girls behind us. I tried to hold on to Jannie’s hand, but she had longer legs and took longer strides. Jannie let go of my hand and picked a path. Bad path, though — the girl scanning tickets was caught up in the chaos. She tried to hurry it up, but she was failing miserably. Jannie was getting mad. As the girl scanned Jannie’s ticket, a guy offered to scan mine. I saw Jannie run for it and got her folding stool. When I got to the guy giving us the stool, he ran out. I had to wait a few seconds before he got me one. I lost sight of Jannie during this. A little panic stirred up in me. When I got out of the folding stool tent, I saw Jannie waiting for me. She held her hand as she moved forward. I ran. I almost stumbled grabbing her hand.

It was an Amazing Race. We all ran. Ran for our spots. Jannie and I were going to D4. I almost tripped on the tracks for the moving stages. I hit a couple of people. I said sorry without looking back. We just went on running. Securing our spot was top priority. For both Jannie and I. For everyone in the concert grounds at that moment. I lost sight of Jannie again. When I got to D4, Jannie had already placed her stool on a spot. I placed mine next to her. In front of us was the same Chinese group ahead of us in the line. One of them asked me to look after her things, which I in turn asked Jannie to look after. I had to use the toilet. It was then or never.

Fortunately the line for the portalets wasn’t long. Better than the line outside, a staff was actually standing at the end to tell people that’s where they’re supposed to line up. After this break, I walked back to Jannie. I watched as people ran to find a spot. I watched a couple of girls fall down on their faces (poor girls). A guy slipped on his butt, from running in thick dry sand. When I got to Jannie, she told me she wanted some drinking water. I offered to get it since I already knew where it was. It was right beside the portalets. It was a great opportunity to watch the chaos. It was like a scene in a war movie. It was pure chaos derived from exhilaration, adrenalin, and panic. I saw K in the line, and that was the last I saw of her. A guy behind me at the water shop line was throwing a fit. He was agitated. Needed his water a little too much.

I paced myself on my way back to Jannie again. The sections had filled up fast by this time. I watched as some people argue over stool spaces. I watched as some women complain to the staff over having no space for them at all. When I got back to Jannie, we watched some ladies asked for space in our section. We listened as instructions were announced from the PA system. Unfortunately the instructions were in Japanese. The Japanese lady beside me tried to explain to me what the instructions were. She couldn’t speak English, so she mimed it. It had something to do with the stool and moving forward. I had no idea if Jannie understood, but I was surely at a loss. Later I was told, by Jannie or the people behind me, that the announcement said the concert wouldn’t start if we didn’t move forward to make space for late comers. So we did. Except fornthis douchey guy in front of Jannie who sat with his legs spread apart. If I wasn’t too excited about the concert, I would have kicked his seat and watched him fall. I didn’t want to be kicked out of the concert, though. So I tried to ignore him.

I was amazed at how close we were to the stage. Jannie described it as ¨spitting distance.¨ Which my head imagined as Arashi spitting at us. Spitting Arashi — it’s a thing. Kidding aside, I didn’t think we would be this lucky.  

So near.

The lady beside me tried to strike a conversation. Imagine me — who barely understand Japanese and can’t really speak the language. Then imagine a lady who barely understood English and doesn’t speak it either. And we were having a conversation about Arashi. She asked me who my favorite was by saying, ¨Who … Arashi? Ohno-san?¨ I knew immediately she thought Ohchan was my favorite because of my uchiwa. I said no, and mentioned Ninomiya-san. With a surprised look, she started pointing at Ohno — which I interpreted, ¨why are you carrying Ohno’s uchiwa?¨ I responded by taking out my Arashi Hawaii Blast uchiwa, pointed at Nino and saying, ¨Ichiban (number 1).¨  Pointed at Ohno, ¨Niban (second.)¨ And then Sho, ¨Sanban (3rd).¨ I pointed at Aiba and Jun saying, ¨Equal!¨ The lady nodded and talked to her daughter beside her. She told me that her daughter is into Ohno by pointing at her and saying, ¨Ohno-san.¨  

That was, by far, the most magical conversation I ever had in my entire life. It was shot. It was simple. It broke down language barriers. It transcended words. I guess, Arashi is a language all on its own. And I swear, I’m not making this up. I don’t think even Arashi themselves would ever understand this. I could barely make sense of it. That’s why it’s so amazing.  

The sky before both storm arrived.
I looked up at the sky. The dark clouds were now above us. I could almost feel water dropping from it. I could actually see the eye I took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook. Storm had arrived — literally. I wanted it to rain. Jannie didn’t. It had its pros and cons. I just wanted a baptismal. I really wanted an Arashi concert.

It ain’t Arashi concert until storm pours. Arashi is storm, dakara.

A little past 5:30 p.m. I heard someone say helicopter. Everyone stood up all at the same time, and turned to the sky behind us. Jannie pointed at the helicopter coming in. I was too short to see it. Everyone was towering over me. I couldn’t see anything. It was too noisy to hear anything. People started waving. I felt left out. Where should I wave? I didn’t know.

Then, I heard the helicopter’s beat. And I felt my heart synchronize with it.


Arashi's Hero

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