Saturday, April 23, 2016

in the presence of royalty


I have no idea how I got Prince's 1999 cassette, but I do know that it immediately became my favorite album. Favorite very secret album, playing directly only into my ears through the headphones of my knock-off Walkman whenever I strolled to the beach, mowed the lawn, or tried desperately to get a tan lying in my backyard. 

I felt subversive listening to it; for 1983 small town me the songs were unbelievably naughty. But for all its overt sexiness, Prince never made me feel uncomfortable [except when I thought about my parents hearing the lyrics]. So I knew then for sure that sex was supposed to be a good, fun thing [that I would never ever discuss with my parents]. A couple years later I spent my babysitting money on the Purple Rain LP and fell in love.


Riding the bus home Valentine's Day in 1985, I heard on the radio that they had added another Prince concert for the next night at the Tacoma Dome, and there were still tickets available. I bolted from my bus stop to the kitchen phone, frantically found the number for our local ticket shop/t-shirt printer and called. They said one of their employees might have a couple of tickets to sell, check back in 15 minutes. My heart was pounding - the possibility of seeing Prince was 15 minutes away. Fifteen minutes plus whatever the cost was, a desperate phone call to my mom asking not only for permission but for her to drive me and my best friend 2 1/2 hours each way on a school night, and my best friend's ability to come with me away. I don't think I have ever been so blindly optimistic again in my life.

The tickets were $25 each. They were front row. My parents said okay. My best friend's parents said okay. It was a miracle.

Regardless of our love for Prince, my bff and I were hardcore stereotypical teacher's pet-type girls. So naturally we wore our purple sweatshirts. Over purple polo shirts. With our Normandy Rose jeans and loafers. I am not making this up; I feel slightly embarrassed and very sweaty just remembering our outfits.

It didn't matter how out of place we looked (seriously, no one else was wearing a sweatshirt. Of course.) - WE WERE GOING TO SEE PRINCE FROM THE FRONT ROW. Sheila E opened like a goddess, tied an audience member to a chair and danced & drummed around him in her sheer bodysuit, then it was time. Purple smoke covered the stage and filled my unsuspecting, willing lungs. I have a memory of Prince crawling across the stage at some point but I'm not sure when that happened. He changed clothes a few times, and I'm pretty sure he was shirtless at one point. My stomach felt wiggly, my breathing shallow, and not just because I was on the verge of heat stroke. We were pushed against the barrier fencing for two hours and I thought many times I would lose one of my shoes (honestly, what was I thinking? Loafers.) but didn't really care. It was the best night of my 16-year old life.

For the past 31 years, I have felt like I actually know Prince because of that concert. I believe he made everyone in that arena feel like they knew him. Each time I saw Prince in an interview, on an awards show, with The Muppets, I believed we had a connection. 
Because he was miraculous

3 comments:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I felt the same way you did when I secretly listened to 1999. "Darling Nikki" gave me a lot to chew on...

Stephanie Spencer said...

Right?!?
That came on in my classroom Friday (because of course I had to play the Prince tribute station all day) and I turned it down a bit....

Melony Fisher said...


Appreciating the dedication you put into your website and in depth information you present. It's nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn't the same unwanted rehashed information. Great read! I've bookmarked your site and I'm adding your RSS feeds to my Google account. paypal login

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails