Experiencing "Bieber Mania," through my daughters
Sitting under a video screen that displays people attending his show, pop star Justin Bieber performs during a free open-air concert in Mexico City, Monday, June 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)
MEXICO CITY (AP) — It was eight hours of squeals, screams, tears: an emotional rollercoaster, at least part of which I spent with my 9-year-old daughter on my shoulders as she craned for a better view of teen heartthrob Justin Bieber.
We parents, probably thousands of us who had accompanied an estimated 200,000 shrieking fans to the concert in Mexico City's main plaza Monday night, could only exchange knowing smiles as euphoria caught hold of the teenagers.
This was their night. And they did not want parents doing anything that would spoil the experience.
"Can I sing too?" I asked my girls. "No," they replied.
So we soldiered through the evening, reduced to the status of chaperone, protector and occasional viewing platform, until after four or five songs we begged our daughters off our shoulders.
We discretely tapped our feet. We clapped a few times in rhythm.
How could we have gotten so old?
It was a shared youth experience, much like the new student movement sweeping Mexican politics, called "I am 132," that sprang up on college campuses in May; oldsters (anyone above college age) are welcome to attend, but only in a supporting role.
There was a brief moment of rebellion on my part, a short-lived practical joke: Checking my smart phone, I announced to all within earshot that Bieber had announced he was cancelling the show. "Aw, mister, you had me scared," one teenage girl said reproachfully.
Just minutes after the Mexico City government announced last week it was sponsoring the free concert, I knew my job as a reporter and a dad: To immediately confirm it and alert my daughters to the development.
It would not be their first venture in Bieberlandia.
We had paid nearly $100 for three tickets to an arena concert Bieber held in Mexico City in October. That much money apparently bought bragging rights for my girls, because, apparently, you're nobody if you haven't seen Bieber. Who knew?
There was no question we would attend the free concert, too, even though it meant leaving work early (I wouldn't let them miss school), arriving several hours before the event even started, standing in a pressed-in crowd with no place to sit, enduring the hot sun and later rain. Mexico City's ubiquitous street vendors lived up to their reputation for resourcefulness and omnipresence, turning up at the first hint of rain and hawking disposable rain capes for 20 pesos, about ($1.50).