Last week was a busy one. When I wasn’t sitting at the King County courthouse nibbling a granola bar and trying to get the WiFi to connect my Sony PSP to the Internet, I was out on the town in a whirlwind of activity that I haven’t seen in years. Not since that night I turned 21 and threw up on my sister’s face in a bar. I figured that it was safe to leave the house, lo these 11 years later, so my sister and I drove to Tacoma on Thursday night to see Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls, only we missed the Pussycat Dolls because my sister, as precious as she is, finds it impossible to arrive anywhere within an hour of an event’s start or designated arrival time. This does not include work, but it does include funerals and select lesbian weddings.
I was really excited to see Britney Spears, not so much because I enjoy her music (I really lost track after that one where she wears the red leather outfit in that video for that song) but because I enjoy her particular brand of crazy. The reviews of shows leading up to this one were glowing. She was celebrating winter holidays in early Spring! She was yelling that her lady bits were dangling from her costume! She called all of Vancouver motherfuckers because they were smoking weed at her show. I was alive with speculation and intrigue.
The show itself was true to the title, a circus. There were acrobats and dancers doing their best to wow the crowd of screaming ladies and that one girl’s boyfriend sitting placidly and drinking his Bud Light. There were no outbursts of crazy and not a single cuss word. Britney was lip-syncing and dancing her little Louisiana hear out, ending it all with and encore of her hit “Womanizer.” Overall it was what you’d expect so instead of expounding on her stage and costumes, I’d like to discuss the three main classes of people who show up at a Britney Spears concert in the year 2009.
First, we have all the ladies who listened to Britney Spears before the crazy, the K-Fed and the babies. This was when Britney was dating Justin Timberlake and they wore matching denim outfits to awards shows. She was not a girl, not yet a woman. She wasn’t that innocent. This group is well into adulthood now, but somehow, some way, the Britney Spears concert provides them a safe venue for slipping on inappropriately skanky clothing and drunkenly weaving their way to the stadium door with their best friend while cradling a half-empty 2 liter of Sierra Mist that reeks of gin. These same ladies carry large purses from which, when the concert lets out, they pull some sensible shoes to replace their patent leather stiletto heels for the long walk back to the parking garage and their mini van.
Second, we have the new Britney fans. Kids who were never aware of Britney as a member of the New Mickey Mouse club or that her April 1995 cover of Rolling Stone upset the American Family Association so much so that they urged a boycott of stores carrying her album or that Britney was going to remain a virgin until she got married. Do they even remember her film, Crossroads? Doubtful. What these kids know about Britney Spears is that she’s the mother of two of Kevin Federline’s children, she went crazy one night, shaved her head and bashed a car in with an umbrella. Then she went to the hospital and now she’s doing much better with the help of anti-psychotic medications and having been legally stripped of any responsibility over her own person. These are the girls that scream so loud and so shrill at the concert that the people near them are unable to make it to work the next day because they can’t hear out of their left ear. These are, also, the girls who will dress up in tube tops and tiny skirts, wear pink wigs and shiny shoes and will not have the smarts enough to tuck some pink Crocs into their bags for the long walk to the street corner where they will wait for their parents to pick them up after the show.
Third, we have the smaller but no less important group, the gays. This is a contingent of young men dressed to kill, all vying for a spot at Britney’s side as her gay boyfriend. They’ll shop together, they’ll have hour long giggle-filled conversations about bubble gum and Zac Efron. These are the fellows who firmly believe they hold the key to Britney’s sanity. If they can hug her, befriend her and impart their advice about what it means to struggle with identity and what to wear, they can save her from herself. They are her biggest fans at any age.
The leftovers are a hodgepodge of people like me, who are there for the spectacle and the show. We wear jeans and t-shirts and sensible shoes to and from the car. We don’t care enough to splurge on the most expensive tickets, settling for seats on the steepest incline, watching as the woman in front of us who tried to make us dance several uncomfortable times, dances on her seat so ferociously that, two songs in, she falls in to the row below her and leaves a few songs later because, we’re certain, she has probably broken a few ribs.