April 23 is the night of the Childish Gambino and Diplo concert, but April 18 was the chaotic night I camped out for tickets.
At around 2 a.m., I trekked from Tabler to the Union with two blankets stuffed in my book bag and one larger blanket wrapped around my body. I set up camp against the wall of the Campus Recreation Center feeling hopeful. I thought I was somewhere around the 70th person in line, not realizing that many campers were saving spots for their friends still in bed.
The night sky was empty and though the moon was nearly full I could not see it lying on my back. Wrapped up like a flattened burrito from Picantes, I tried to keep warm. The ground was incomparable to the warm, plush bed I had left behind and so I sat up in defeat.
When I sat up, the line in front of me was a swamp of blankets and people; bags of chips were being passed down the line to anyone who was hungry. Strangers and friends were bonding in the cold, stepping away to share cigarettes and snuggling in the dirt to stay warm. “Why am I even here?” someone behind me asked.
To make the time go faster, I tried to do homework, but all I could focus on were the hours I had left before I could buy my ticket and go back to bed.
At 4 a.m. the wind had picked up and the number of people in line did too. There was a long line curving around to the front of the Union and I felt bad for them because they had no lights.
“I heard they’re letting us inside at 7,” someone said—I hoped it was not a rumor. I heard someone else shout profanities about going inside even if they were not allowed.
After 6 a.m., hope became tangible. The sun was breaking up the night sky and now the crowd was energized. I packed up my blankets and watched people stretch in anticipation. Then, a miracle happened.
The line started moving. The rumors had been true! Security opened the doors to let us inside of the Union Ballroom where a maze of tables herded us like cattle.
I was lucky to already be inside considering what happened next. Crowds of people still stuck outside were gathering so tightly that faces were being pushed up against the door. I could see the hired security standing off to the side unaware or unaffected—I couldn’t tell. It was campus security that intervened, yanking radical students out of the line for cutting and pushing other people. Still, when their backs were turned, more people skipped ahead in line. Somehow campers ended up further behind in line yelling at the security to do their job.
“You suck!” “Do your job!” “Get in back of the line!” “Hey, no cutting!” The chanting went on for a while, dying down when the cutting stopped and starting back up again when the cutting continued.
There were so many sleepy, desperate and angry faces in the crowd. Everyone was antsy. I was antsy. I kept checking my phone to see how much time was left. 30 minutes left. 28 minutes left. 25 minutes left. When it was finally time, they were only a minute late, but a minute late is a minute too long when you’ve just spent all night on the sidewalk.
At 8:45 a.m. I got my floor ticket, took several selfies to inform my friends, and ran out of the Union like a bat out of hell.
“Ain’t nobody got time for that,” a girl said while eyeing the congested line that surrounded the Union. As right as she was, I know I’ll be camping out again next year.