It's that time of year again in downtown Toronto, where anxious teens from across the city (and province), huddle together in their tents and sleeping bags to wait in line for the MuchMusic Video Awards (MMVAs).
The MMVAs are as old as I am (25), and every year, A-list artists, along with actors, athletes and Canadian celebrities, hit the stage to perform and give out awards. Each year a portion of John Street and Queen Street is shut down for a giant teen-filled concert with loud music and louder fans. Should I mention, this is all free?
I've been to two MMVAs in my lifetime, and looking back now, I can tell you the line is definitely worth it. Yes, you have to wait for hours (sometimes days). Yes, you are constantly hungry, tired and have the need to pee. And yes, the disgusting people around you like to litter and smell in the blazing heat. But again, this is worth it.
With the MMVAs gearing up for their 25th show on Sunday, June 15, I've been seeing plenty of of my Twitter and Facebook friends calling out people in lines "crazy" and "stupid" for waiting that long. Local news stations have been interviewing teens in the trenches, asking them the same-old questions like "who they wanted to see" and "why they decided to wait so long."
In 2008, I waited in line for 14 hours just to get a wristband. The MMVA policy was simple: You line up for a wristband and at the day of the concert; it was first come, first served. On the day of, my friend and I split up a total of 21 hours. The end result? We were in front row.
Lines were dirty, humid and stank. For hours, each of us would try to entertain each other by talking about Rihanna or talking to other people in line. Because this was the pre-smartphone era (well, for 19-year-olds, anyway), nobody was online on Facebook or tweeted their experience. It was nice. We found out where people were from, played card games, made new friends, and spent a lot of time eating pizza and going to Starbucks and sharing drinks.
The MMVAs was my first real concert. I was a broke student attending university and I could never afford a concert. I only started spending money on the expensive Beyonces and Jay Zs of concerts in 2013. The MMVAs wristband was basically like getting Willy Wonka's golden ticket. You had free access to all your favourite stars and just like any award show, you get the red carpet, personalities and powerhouse performances that come with.
That year I was dying to see Rihanna. It was her pre-bad girl days (I would wait for days if MuchMusic could get her again), and when I found out we would be front row and so close that we could basically touch her, I was in heaven. It was any teenager's dream come true: Finish exams, get to see your favourite artist for free and upload a thousand pictures to make everyone else feel jealous.
That year I saw performances by New Kids On The Block, Simple Plan, Hedley, Flo Rida and more. When I went back in 2011, I saw Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and a bunch of other A-listers, again, for free. People always told me, "they would never wait for days" or "waste all that time" waiting in a line-up to see celebrities, but if you're truly a fan of these artists and can't pay the fare, you'll do it. I did, after all.
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