Obstacle Course 2006

We had a big concert here this past weekend, and while I had no desire to go to the actual concert, I was keen on showing up and checking out the crowd, having a few beer and generally just enjoying the fact that our little city has attracted such a big concert. As it turns out, I entered the show without a ticket and had a great time.

My desire to sneak into events goes right back to hockey games when I was a kid and has continued right thru school, college and adult life. I acquired this trait honestly from my dad. We lived on armed forces bases, where many things happen with a nod and wink. Even in this environment, my dad enjoyed a bit of local infamy wherever we went. I have introduced my kids to this sort of fun and we have enjoyed a few innocuous treats (Times Square '01, Hilton Head '06). The negative consequences include being embarrassed by being found out and being asked to leave. Not high on my list of concerns.

Before university, my experiences included sneaking in, jumping over, etc. Hopefully, people don't see you. In university, I was introduced to the idea of just breezing in through the front door. People see you do your move. The past event required 3 moves (1 sneak, 1 hybrid and 1 breeze), which makes it memorable enough to writeup.

I spent Saturday morning participating in a race. Since I don't race much anymore, and the body parts are getting worn down, I spent the afternoon sitting in the tub, listening to opera and napping...sometimes all three at once. After a beer and some tunes at home, I dressed up nice and cosy, wandered across the bridge and aimed for the music. The nearby streets were pretty cranked up, as the main act had already started. The sound was great, and you could see the entire main screen from the corner by the VIP area. I enjoyed my carry-along beer and pondered my options.

Obstacle #1

Knowing that I was going to be at the event, I did spend a bit of time earlier in the week checking out the site and likely soft spots. The big screen could not be seen from what I thought was the best candidate, which meant that there was no one around. As well, there was a big trailer parked in front of it. Too easy. Big set of bushes on the other side and presto magic, I'm inside the main perimeter, hidden from view.

Looking out from the bushes, there was a clump of support people smoking something fragrant nearby, as well as a few people walking on the main path. I stepped out of the bushes facing backwards, as if I just finished using God's gift to man, the outdoor toilet. Onto the sidewalk and start working on the next obstacle, a 3 foot high fence between me and the back end of the concession area.

Obstacle #2

Wherever people put up fences for large crowds, there is usually more than one way past that fence. The guarded one obviously, but in many cases, you can find space between the fence and whatever it abuts, like a building or river or vehicle. In this case, someone had parked a van across an opening, leaving just enough room for staff to squeeze by if necessary. I had to get through that space, all the while in full view of a number of people. Sounds bad, but it really wasn't. I was already inside the main fence. Everybody in my vicinity was working the event in some capacity. I didn't stick out, I wasn't furtive. My job was to just look like I knew what I was doing and most people wouldn't even notice me, much less give me a hard time.

I consider this a hybrid move. People will see me and no one is supposed to be where I am or breaching this fence, but hey, everyone breaks the rules a bit. It's a big event, lots of different people and jobs. Up to the van, hand on the back door as if I was going to open it, turn, squeeze and presto magic, I'm inside the second fence and walking towards the back of the concessions.

Obstacle #3

The concession area ran in a long unbroken line, under a series of tents, all the tables joined end-to-end. Sounds bad, but again, it's not as bad as it seems. Anyone working the concession area who wanted or needed to get out to the main field either had walk down to the security gate or crawl under a table. Or there was a hole somewhere...for convenience sake. I know there's a hole, there's always a hole. First, I need some time, can't wander alone back here for long. I place myself on the back border between two concessions. Anyone looking at me wouldn't know if I was working in their area or if I belonged to the next one. No cause for alarm. A bit of scanning and I find it. A few concessions up, there is a space beween 2 tables, just enough to squeeze by.

Time for the breeze move. I have to walk right up to one of the serving tables, like one of the workers. Won't take too long for someone to wonder just who I am and what I'm doing. I do not belong here. There are 3 people standing right beside the little space. I have to ask one of them to move to use it. Little bravado required here. Of course, I don't ask and wait for a response. I am gently moving buddy aside as I turn to squeeze thru the space. There are 2 things that can happen now. If I get challenged, the crowd is but 50 feet away. Into the crowd, take off the hat and raincoat, keep moving. But no one yells, why should they. Big crowds, big event, not my problem. Sector 12 clear.

I'm in. Oddly enough, the music gets a lot louder. Was a bit distracted the past few minutes, I guess. This is fun. I find someone to take the picture above, treat myself to a beer, enjoy the rest of the concert immensely and then walk home.


Learning to 'Breeze'

While I had done some bold moves in my early 20's, it wasn't until I met Dave that I learned to 'breeze'. The idea is to get into an event right under the eyes of security. More subtle, more fun. Being students, a bunch of us used to meet in the same bar every Thursday night and catch some music. Dave and I would hide our jackets under the cigarette machine, go to the bathroom that was just outside the bar, turn around and walk back into the bar as if we'd been there all night. Takes a bit of nerve and a little attitude. We did this so much and were there so often, we got to know the bouncers, cash people and bar manager and graduated to just walking into the bar. No one had ever taken money from us, and we knew the manager, must be OK. Too cool. Makes the beer and the music that much better.

A Classic

Guggenheim Museum motorcycle exhibit in New York City, 1998. I really wanted to go to this show. I love old motorcycles and they had over a 100 in there, dating back to the 1890's. More than that, however, I wanted to breeze in. I spent almost 30 minutes in the public area, reading a brochure, checking out the control area and the habits of the ticket checker on duty. Buddy would check out the faces of the people in groups, look down at the tickets, then look back up, usually to respond to someone asking a question. Same pattern, over and over.

I waited until a small group of 6 approached, which meant they'd be spread out a little and just caught the end of the group before we hit the gate and before buddy turned his attention to us. The last person, a teenager, is slightly angled between me and security. Buddy checks us over, looks down for the tickets, just as my outside hand comes up, same as everyone else, but the view of my hand is blocked by the teenager beside me. Hand back down just as I catch buddy's eye and nod hello. Pattern repeated, mission accomplished. The timing and positioning was exquisite, an empty hand passing for a ticket. Too cool.

The show was incredible. I was there for 4 hours. Worth every penny