A week ago, I went to my first big concert all by myself. I was pretty nervous, not only because it was a new experience but also because I had no idea what it would be like not to have any people with me, to be only an anonymous face alone in the crowd.
It wasn’t just any concert either, it was a latin music concert – no, not like latin jazz or something where everyone is calm, seated and quiet. This was a 3-artist show – Wisin from Puerto Rico (reggaeton), Gente de Zona from Cuba (cubaton – their word, not mine), and Prince Royce, a Dominican American from NY (bachata). This kind of music is made for dancing, made for friends and parties and lovers – it is most certainly NOT made for the listener to be calm, seated, quiet and alone.
Moreover, the concert was almost completely sold out; le Zénith de Paris, one of the biggest concert venues in the French capital, holds about 6,300 spectators…and here I was all alone.
But wait, you may be wondering, why did you go alone? And why are you telling us about it??
Here is what happened: by the time I heard about the concert, the less expensive standing (aka dancing) tickets in “the pit” were sold out – only the more expensive seated tickets were left. This was no deterrent to me, because I was super excited about these three artists and the opportunity to see them all at once. 3 concerts in one! I was psyched. I immediately asked around to see who wanted to go with me…and no one did. Friends had scheduling conflicts, or thought it was too expensive. Boyfriend loves me, but does not love reggaeton/bachata. I started to panic – was I really going to miss this amazing concert because no one else could/would go??
No, I decided, I was not.
I’ve missed out on other events and activities because no one wanted to/could go with me and was always frustrated and disappointed, but I also just accepted it. Going on solo adventures to unfamiliar, crowded spaces is simply not something I really considered…until now. The concert tipped the scales.
I said to myself, Kai, you can’t depend on other people to be available. You have the time, you’ve got the money, so if you want to see this concert, then DO IT. And just like that, I bought a ticket before I could change my mind.
And you know what? No regrets. ZERO. In fact, I have the opposite of regrets. Let me explain.
The concert was this past Friday, March 25th, which also marked the end of my Clean Program so please believe that I was ready to celebrate. I carefully planned my outfit so that it would easily transition between work and concert (which started at 8pm), made it through the work day all excited/anxious, and got to Zénith about 45 minutes early. The line was already so long that from the end of it, you couldn’t even see the venue.
I began to worry about getting a good seat. The only thing worse than going to a concert by yourself, I thought, was going to a concert by yourself and getting a horrible seat way up high where your head scratches the ceiling. I was not about that life.
Advantage #1 of being at a concert by yourself is that you can easily weave through crowds. I made it to the front, scanned my ticket, and walked in. You could already hear the music from well outside the building; inside it was thumping. A DJ was mixing while everyone filed in, and the energy – all positive – was palpable. I walked up the stairs to the lowest seated sections, hoping I wouldn’t have to climb any further, and started scanning.
Advantage #2 of being alone at a concert is that there is always one good seat available somewhere, and I found it almost immediately. It was a great location – close to center, not too far up, and right next to the platform between the lower and upper sections where people were already dancing, filling the space with smiling, happy bodies.
I asked the couple to the right of the seat if it was taken – they assured me that it wasn’t, and kindly helped me climb over the row to get settled – I took this to be a Good Sign. There was a group of girl friends to the left, and later as we were waiting for the first artist, the girl next to me noticed and asked about the bracelet I was wearing. She recognised the company (not sold in France) and told me about how she had her own bracelet just like it. It was only a short conversation, but what are the chances?? I took this not only as a Good Sign, but also as a sign that I was in the Right Place. I find that I pay a lot more attention to signs when I’m by myself.
So, there I was. Remember what I said in the beginning, how I was nervous about not having any people? I was wrong. I looked around as the DJ finished his set and saw my people. Men and women of all ages, all colors, all walks of life…all smiling, dancing, moving with the music. It wasn’t even 8pm yet, and they were turnt up. Ready. People were waving flags, dancing together and on their own, laughing and excited. I looked around and saw exactly what I was feeling reflected on each of their faces.
Once the music started, all bets were off. My entire section stood up, and remained standing for almost all 3+ hours. My friends-by-proximity (the girls sitting on either side of me, with whom I shared my Toblerone chocolate bar halfway through) were just as into the music and the atmosphere as I was; they were both singing along and dancing. I was singing and dancing. Every time I looked around, *everyone* was singing and dancing and I kept thinking…these are my people. I didn’t feel alone at all, I felt surrounded by love and good energy.
Advantage #3 of being alone at a concert: you settle into a comfortable state called No Fucks Given.
I am generally a pretty conscious person – conscious of my surroundings, conscious of others, conscious of my self. This self-consciousness can sometimes get in the way of having a good time by being an irritating little voice in my head saying all sorts of negative things about what I’m doing and how I am being perceived by others. But at the concert, I was just an anonymous face in the crowd. I could do anything I wanted, and didn’t care what anyone thought. The irritating voice was gone, any obstacle between myself and full enjoyment disappeared, and – pardon the cliché – I sang and danced as though no one were watching.
There is no better way to put it: I felt like I was quite simply being 100% myself.
I’ve often drawn the connection between the old philosophical question “if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” and people’s personalities. Meaning, I wonder sometimes who I am/who I would be if no one is around to see/hear me. Last Friday, I got a taste of that. Granted, there were thousands of people around to see and hear me, but somehow that didn’t matter; the effect was the same. I gave no fucks, and I liked it. I also liked *myself*. I spent 3+ hours in my own company and had an amazing evening. I gave myself to the music, and trusted its embrace. I was one of thousands, no one and everyone at the same time.
And everywhere I looked, people were dancing.
The final message I would like to share with you is this: if you want to do something – do it. Don’t miss out on experiences because other people won’t join you. It might feel scary, but you can go by yourself. Take a chance.
Put yourself out there, get out of your comfort zone, and feel alive.
I’d like to conclude this post with a video from one of my favorite dancers, Serena Cuevas. She is a latin dancer, but does not have a partner. Does that stop her from kicking ass and taking names? It most absolutely does not.
Moral of the story: Do what you love, and don’t wait for someone else to come do it with you.