I went to my first concert when I was 16 years old—‘NSync at the former MCI Center in Washington D.C.
To get tickets, I stood in line with my parents outside a mattress store that had a Ticketmaster console inside. Buying tickets online wasn’t a thing yet. Then I waited impatiently for months for the big night to arrive.
I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m going to be in the same room as my favorite singers. I don’t have to wait to see their new video on Total Request Live because they’ll actually be in front of me!”
The concert was more than my teenage brain could’ve imagined—their voices were perfect, they flew above the stage, they sang all my favorite songs. I left thinking, “This was the best night of my life.”
And it was—until the next concert.
Since then, I’ve been to countless shows. I’ve seen boy bands and legends and rock stars. I’ve been close enough to touch artists I admire. I’ve met singers who blow me away. I’ve sung along with and cried over performers who fill my heart just by sharing their gift with the world.
Concerts have always been my safe space. They are where I feel most free. They have helped me heal. They are where I go when I need to feel my own aliveness.
And this is why I’m heartbroken for the Ariana Grande fans in Manchester who died or were traumatized after what I’m sure most believed was the “best night of their lives.”
For the children, teens, parents, and families who were in attendance, this terror attack has I’m sure succeeded in its intention to turn what should have been a magical night of singing, dancing, and freedom into a nightmare. I cannot imagine how this feels. I cannot imagine how these parents and families will explain this attack to their children.
But I hope that in their explanation, these adults encourage their children not to let go of the healing power of music.
I hope they encourage them to hold tight to the songs and the feelings that moved them before that concert came to a horrific end.
I hope they remind them that seeing their favorite performer live, surrounded by friends and fans who all feel that same love, will be enjoyable again—one day.
I hope they teach them that while there will always be evil in the world, there is also joy; and that any artist who inspires them to smile, to sing, to dance, to breathe easier, to express themselves, is a creator of that joy.
I hope they tap into the bravest part of themselves and keep going to concerts, keep supporting the music and the people who make their children feel understood, accepted, and loved.
I know this won’t be easy. I know this goes against our instinct to survive.
My next concert is June 25th—New Kids on the Block with Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul in D.C.—and I could feel the anxiety build last night as I wondered what I would do if an attack occurred. Would I be strong enough to help others? Would I be able to survive? Would I be able to contact my family?
But I know that every unanswerable question, every moment of anxiety, every fear and worry only gives power to those who seek to stop our joy. So I started asking different questions.
What if I dance so hard that my feet ache the next morning?
What if I get to sing along to my favorite song?
What if I sit next to someone who becomes a friend?
What if this concert is the best night of my life?
Next month, when I enter that arena and find my seat and the lights go down, I won’t allow my mind to wander to the fear, I will instead remember to focus on the joy. I will think about the victims who spent their last night singing and dancing and laughing with friends while their favorite artist shared the same space with them.
And I will enjoy this concert with all of me, for all of them.
Author: Nicole Cameron
Image: Author’s Own