I recently achieved something I thought was nearly impossible, and I didn’t even realize how impossible it would be until the almost bitter end. Seeing BTS live was no small feat, but I never gave up. It reminded me of the time I climbed one of those indoor rock walls a few years ago. After a ten minute climb that felt like three hours, I paused near the top a good ten minutes more, muscles shaking and ugly-crying, unsure how I was gonna make it the last 20 inches to the top. Had I come this far to just give up? My mind wanted to quit, but my body said, “Not today, Satan,” and somehow I pushed myself up that last stretch. Ringing that bell was a victory I’d never felt before, and never felt again, but I came pretty close to it at 8:45pm on September 12, 2018 at the Oakland Oracle Arena.
Buying tickets to ANY high-demand event is a test of mental fortitude. I plan to write a post on just the subject of buying K-pop concert tickets, because it’s a topic unto itself. But for brevity’s sake here, let’s just say that if you don’t have your shit together a few days, or at least a few hours, before high-demand tickets go on sale, you’re gonna crumble under the pressure. Buying BTS tickets was a 4-person, wall street pit-like experience, replete with shouting of numbers, cursing of technology, and the requisite collapse to the floor at the end of it all. When the dust cleared, we hadn’t even gotten the tickets the girls wanted, which was P1. They ended up with P3, but it was better than nothing. Considering how many of their mutuals, including me, ended up empty-handed after the chaotic 2 minute (TWO MINUTE!) sale, my girls felt lucky to have any BTS tickets at all.
As for me, I continued trying for several hours and days after the concert sold out, hoping more tickets might be released. It didn’t seem to be happening, and the resellers were charging 5-10 times face value on everything. I turned to Facebook and Twitter in hopes of finding kind people offering their tickets for what they paid. I did this for weeks, but everything was completely out of my range. I still didn’t panic though, because I figured resellers would surely have to bring their ticket prices down as the BTS show date approached. However, when it wound down to hours before the concert, and tickets were still in the thousand+ dollar range, I became much less hopeful. I wore a headband around the concert merch village, taped up with photos of a praying Jungkook and my sincere plea “I NEED A TICKET!” People complimented my headband, but no one had any tickets to sell. As my girls went into the arena at 7:00pm, a slight sense of hopelessness began to set in.
I’m not sure if it was BigHit or the Oracle that decided to host a parent waiting area in the adjacent stadium’s snack bar, but it was a genius idea and ended up being the place I spent the next hour. I was nearly resigned to an evening of crunching free potato chips and and sad-watching streams of the concert online. Then suddenly I noticed a ruckus in my ticket chat group! Rumor had it that the box office was going to release some tickets soon!!! The clock was about to strike 8pm, the show was going to start without me, but when I peeked out the window down to the box office area, I indeed saw renewed activity and ran down to join it.
As BTS kicked off their set with “Idol” inside the arena, a large group huddled in the windy cold outside the box office for these rumored tickets to be released. After a short wait, the employees began shouting from their windows “Cash ONLY!!” and half the group scrambled away to search for ATM machines. I was feeling confident with my $400 cash in hand, but I was still about 30th in line, unsure if luck was on my side. Just how many tickets would be released? Would my plea be answered? We watched phone screens of the live stream, and as “Idol” turned into “Save Me” which turned into “I’m Fine,” several people just couldn’t stand it anymore. “I’m missing the WHOLE THING!!” one woman yelled right before sulking over to a scalper and paying waaaay too much for a nosebleed seat. No, I said, NO! I will not lose hope, I will not give in to these bloodsuckers. They said there will be fairly-priced tickets, and dammit, I’m getting a fairly-priced ticket! Just then we heard a scream from the front of the line. It was true, the box office had sold a P1 GA for $250! More screams, they’d sold another! And then another! One after another now, happy cash-holders were getting in, and for a lot less than the scalpers were asking! I was now only two people away from the box office window, my heart beating fast in anticipation, when the employee said, “That’s it folks, that’s all we got.”
Dear reader, this is that point, like being two feet from the top of the rock wall, when I begin to shake all over, and tears begin to well in my eyes as my heart literally breaks. I was. so. close. to getting a ticket. Is this really how it happens? Do I walk away? Several did, but a handful of us hung on. We were white-knuckling it in the irrational hope that our fates would turn. And then like poetry, we see on the stream that J-Hope is singing “Trivia: Just Dance.” I hear a voice yell out from the box office, “OK folks, we’ve got just a few more. $100 cash, let’s go.” One goes. Another goes. A few means more than two, right??!! I hope it did! YES, it did!!! It was actually happening, they had a ticket to sell me! I laid down my cash like lightning and ran up the stairs to the arena so fast that I don’t think my feet even touched the ground. Thank goodness I know the Oracle like I know my own house, because I was able to get to my seat just in time for J-Hope’s last few lines of his song. This was my bell ring. I jumped up and down and sang along victoriously, “I just wanna wanna wanna, I really wanna wanna wanna, just dance!”