As we parked our car, and piled out of it, I could feel my daughters’ nervous and excited energy. Their faces held expressions I hope to never forget. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, but I knew I was glad I got to witness the emotions and expressions they were carrying.
We rounded a corner to see the sign lit up ahead of us: “Fox”. Then, on the marquee you saw the names:
“Dan and Phil”
My girls were seized with an excitement that ended with a squeal or two.
All around us were kids approximately 10-18 years old, with different colored hair, funky cool clothing, and determined looks on their faces as they made their way toward two people who made them feel less alone.
The girls and I had spent the past year going to a theater somewhat like the Fox in St. Louis, and seeing touring Broadway shows. I kind of had an expectation of the vibe being similar with people looking at merchandise and trying to find their seats in an excited, but very calm, way.
This is not what was going on behind those beautiful entrance doors to The Fabulous Fox Theater.
The lobby was jammed pack. People filled every nook and cranny of it. Upon closer inspection, I figured out that they had a snake line (like when you are going through baggage claim at large airports, or at Chick Fil A at dinner time) in front of a merchandise set-up. The line snaked at least 10 times. Then, it spilled out in a single file into the lobby.
The girls looked at me with pleading eyes. “Can we buy stuff now?” I told them we had thirty minutes until show time, so let’s try. Then, we set off to find the end of that line. It continued out of the lobby, into a side area before you get to the area outside the seating. So, on we went. Then, it snaked back around twice, in and out of doors. We finally found the guy holding the “line here” sign to tell us where to stand. I looked at my girls. They knew. There was no way we were getting merchandise before the show. I promised a try at intermission.
I thought, “Surely, just about everyone is in the lobby, trying to grab a memory from the show.”
The theater was pretty packed. I had no idea how the merchandise liner uppers were going to fit in there.
After a series of selfies, we sat patiently, but excitedly, and waited. I have to admit, I was getting caught up in the energy. It was a community of people who may not regularly have one. One girl turned to my daughter, and said she looked like someone I didn’t know… thought maybe it was a friend. After telling her, the girl shyly looked away, smiling at the interaction she just had. Later, I found out the girl thought my daughter looked like a character she likes. Connection.
A Panic at the Disco song came on, and the screams were so loud I could no longer hear the song. I looked at my 13-year old who was wearing a Panic at the Disco t-shirt, and she was beaming. The song obviously meant something to her, her sister, and the rest of the theater. Another connection. A few more songs play, and each time there is a chatter or wave of laughter as the true fans get why each song is playing at this venue, at this time.
This is the moment I was in awe. I had no idea two YouTube personalities had this much of an effect on people. As my eyes scanned the room, I noticed the same theme we saw outside as we walked in. It seemed the theater was packed with teens and pre-teens who may be considered miss-fits or misunderstood, but had a common bond in this room, with the two men that were about to come on stage.
Then, some song I had never heard before started playing, and the laughter and bouncing in seats began. This was it. My girls leaned into me and said the song was written for Dan and Phil. This is THEIR song. I thought they were going to burst from the excitement welling up in them.
I scanned the room, and arms were up in the air, dancing was happening in the seats, and you could feel an energy not unlike a rock concert with your favorite band.
Then the lights went down. Boom!
“Dan and Phil”!!!
“Interactive Introverts”!!!! (How clever is that, by the way?)
I have never heard or seen anything like this. I have seen Bon Jovi four times. I’ve seen Poison, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, ZZ Top and on and on.
This reminded me of the old Ed Sullivan footage when The Beatles started playing.
The energy was amazing, and I soaked it up.
The words I said so many times over the years: “How in the world can watching people play video games on YouTube EVER be interesting?!?!” came back to bite me.
Ahhhh, now I get it.
For more than two hours, my pre-teen and teen and I laughed together. They would lean in from time to time to explain something, and they were so excited to share. Both girls would break into a bouncing routine in their seats as they anticipated the next move.
(Sidebar: I feel a need to mention, Dan and Phil are British, so their accent adds something to it all!)
Parents even got a shout out from the stars, as they thanked us for enduring this show for our kids. A few fake awards to parents were even announced.
I missed at least half of the show. I couldn’t help but spend those moments watching my girls watch the show, or watch the crowd watch the show. I thought about how bad social media can be, about how bad it is to spend too much time on a device or computer, and about how we are losing real connections as we make virtual ones.
Then, something would happen on that stage and I would be whisked right back to a different reality. One where social media and technology can also bring people together. It can sometimes send people to places where they feel they finally fit somewhere.
Believe me, I know I sound a bit too poetic about a couple of goofballs who record themselves playing games and banter back and forth with a wit that even makes me laugh.
Of course there is a truth to: “Uh, make real friends.” being more of an important approach to life.
However, let’s also not miss the fact that sometimes that is hard. I remember growing up feeling like I don’t belong. I remember, as a latch key kid, spending many dark evenings alone, watching TV so I would have noise and company. I turned out ok. (Welllll….hmmmm…)
I just wonder if kids these days can figure out a happy medium. The key word in that sentence being “happy”.
I hope to never forget that July night in St. Louis with my two favorite girls. Being there to see their excitement… well… there is nothing better than those moments. We now share a new connection, as we watch one or two “Dan and Phil” clips each night.
As I watch them grow, and try to ready my heart for the day they will leave the nest… I am thankful that I sucked it up and said yes to a night in a theater watching YouTube personalities act their show out on stage.
What I really got to see was so much better.
Oh, and in case you are wondering… at intermission, we shot out of our seats, and ran to the merchandise counter… still landing way back in the line, but close enough to snag some “merch” before the end of intermission.