- Kali Kugler
It was the final show of Harry Styles's fifteen-night residency at Madison Square Garden. Although I had already attended two of those fifteen shows, I had no intention of missing Harry’s final performance. With a solo ticket in the nosebleeds and a dream, I joined forces with eight women I’d never met prior to that enchanting night to attempt the impossible: break the impenetrable barrier that is Madison Square Garden’s security.
Twitter DM’s are usually mysterious and frightening places. “Don’t talk to strangers online.” Well, it’s 2023 and stan culture runs the meta-sphere. Amidst my hunt for a general admission floor ticket, I was tossed into a group chat by a girl who knew a guy who knew a girl on the day of the final show. Without a word, I was dropped the location pin of a Staples near Madison Square Garden told to come alone, and instructed to bring scissors.
I showed up dressed in lace and skepticism, keeping my eyes peeled for the girl orchestrating the operation. I found her photoshopping pit wristbands. An informant who already got their wristband had sent her a photo, so she could match colors, dimensions, and font. It was pure white, signature black Madison Square Garden type, and standard wristband measurements. Easy-money. Other members in the group strode through the Staples doors, focused on our mission. After an hour of printing, laminating, and snipping, we successfully replicated our ticket of entry. Smiles stretched across our faces as we realized we may actually pull this off.
Now all we had to do was infiltrate the venue, peel off the wristbands taped to our skin underneath our outfits, put them on in the bathroom away from the prying eyes of security, disperse ourselves in pairs to avoid fraudulent suspicion, and successfully get past the last layer of guards in the elevator. Without getting blacklisted. We strategically displayed our wristbands underneath long sleeves with brisk flashes of our wrists. Our perfumed laughs, disco make-up, and frantic chatter were effective accessories for distraction.
The descent to pit level felt purgatorial, the floors never-ending. Finally, we reached ground zero. We shoved through the opening door. The clicking of our heels, the bass coming from the stage, and the vibrating murmur of fans waiting in anticipation melded together to form the sweetest song of success. The last line of security didn’t act quick enough, for our group of ambitious woman worked too quickly. As we crossed the final barrier of security onto the floor, the lights glowed pink and fans rushed all around, the stage waiting for Harry to grace its presence. We had made it to the final show.
Harry made trespassing worth the fatigue. He rose to the stage adorned in a striped jumpsuit that tastefully revealed his iconic tattoos. The crowd spoke in constant conversation with his every move. Whenever Harry hit an impressive note, he was praised. Whenever he flashed his smile, thousands of voices uproared. Each fan felt seen that evening, for Styles expressed his gratitude for the devotion of his fans with blown kisses and tears. Standing on the floor, merely feet away from him at this moment, I knew my precarious endeavors were worth it.
Art by Hope Hui Hui Mothersbaugh