Yesterday was the Fourth of July, which is quite possibly my favorite of all holidays. As any pyrotechnic-loving American would, I traversed over to my local fireworks show. Being in Manhattan, I headed over to the West Side, where I watched the event last year. Instead of showing up late after work and fighting the cops to meet my friends who were scrunched onto the grass like last year, this year we planned ahead. We ended up on Pier 71 (near the cafe) by 6:30 or so where we had ample room, picnic supplies, blankets, and a phenomenal view. By showing up a mere two or three hours earlier, we had a breathtaking view of the fireworks, personal space without kids running rampant over us, and more time to hang out with friends.
So, this is my quick ode to timeliness when it comes to performances. Fireworks may not be the same as a concert or a night at the ballet, but the principle stands true. Note: Ticketed events with pre-assigned seating do not necessarily apply, just make sure you show up with enough time to find your seat for those events. But for general admission and free events – the earlier, the better!
Whether it’s waiting in line for student rush tickets (or free tickets like Shakespeare in the Park – can’t wait to see it this year!) or heading to a free concert, it’s best to show up early. Work and other schedules obviously impede this from time to time, but the best way to ensure a ticket or a good spot is simply to take the time to come early. It’s best to go with some friends and some snacks, and maybe even a game or a blanket. But please, be observant of bathroom rules (sometimes you will not be allowed to leave the line/area so consider your liquid intake!) and line etiquette (don’t save spots for ten friends that are going to show up minutes before the line moves, it’s RUDE!).
The general rule for showing up early and getting guaranteed tickets/good seats varies by event. On Broadway, it depends on how popular the show is – I used to show up at 5am for the Spring Awakening line, and the box office didn’t open until 10am. For Chicago, however, I just walked in any time of the day (still a great show, but it’s been around longer). And for free concerts, if you want to be in the front row show up a few hours early, but if you want a decent view, you’re generally safe with an hour or so before the event. And for Shakespeare in the Park, be sure to plan ahead – last year, my roommate went at 4am in order to ensure tickets, and on our way home from the West Side last night a little past midnight there were already people lined up (though we’re hoping this isn’t for every show – Al Pacino is great and all, but I have no desire to sleep out in Central Park).
So arrive early, get your tickets or great seats, and enjoy your shows this summer! And be sure to bring some paper and pens if your friends are easily bored – consider playing the name game, where you write the name of a famous person and put it on your neighbor’s forehead… everyone asks yes and no questions until everyone guesses correctly (like in Inglourious Basterds). We played this last night, and it was a huge hit, and the time until the fireworks passed super quickly.
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