Adventures as Miss Saigon

Backstreet’s back alright!

Posted on: April 1, 2011

Last Thursday night after work, I asked my motorbike guy to drop me off at Military Zone 7’s stadium, near the airport in HCMC for the Backstreet Boy’s first concert in Vietnam. From the minute I hopped off the motorbike, I was bombarded with ticket scalpers who only spoke Vietnamese. After shoo-ing them away, I grabbed a quick dinner and attempted to navigate the Vietnam concert chaos to find my seat.

A week earlier, I had received a phone call from the ticket sellers saying “the Backstreet Boys want to be closer to you” and they were upgrading my 500,000vnd ($25usd) ticket to a 800,000vnd ($40usd) level seat. When my new ticket was scanned at the gate, a red “x” showed up on the computer screen and I was ushered away with a few others. I was then given a new ticket, and shown to my new gate. Once inside, the Vietnamese staff (all decked out in Backstreet Boy t-shirts) kept waving me forward, until I was practically at the stage. My 500,000vnd nosebleed section ticket turned into a 2,000,000vnd ($100usd) top level ticket…thanks BSB! You really did want to be closer to me!

2,000,000vnd view

In my new section, I was surrounded by young, bubbly Vietnamese girls that were eager to talk to me, the only foreigner in the area. Before I knew it, I was posing for pictures, passing out my mobile number and giggling like a school girl with my fellow Backstreet fans. For them, it was their first time seeing BSB and they were taking it all very seriously. For me, I’d seen them 2 or 3 times when I was much younger, and I was here more as a joke.

While waiting for the show to start, “house rules” were being played on the big tv screens. No pictures, no pushing, sit in your assigned seat, and so on. And just prior to the show starting, one of my new Vietnamese friends excitedly pointed to a tall, leggy girl walking past us, explaining that she was a very famous Vietnamese supermodel…sitting four rows in front of us! Another of my new Vietnamese friends excitedly invited me to dinner at her house, but explained that she would have to ask her mom first!

my new vietnamese friend (the short one) and a famous supermodel

Finally, the show started, and the mostly Vietnamese crowd went wild!!! So many girls (and guys alike) charged to the front of the stage, breaking two of the house rules at the same time! It took a while for security to gain control of the crowd, and these security guys took their jobs very seriously. They came out with megaphones and from that point on, everyone was forced to sit down in their seats or face a megaphone in their face. The young girls sitting beside me kept getting really excited when a new song came on and jumped out of their seats, only to sit down really quickly with scared looks on their faces. I did get busted at one point for breaking one of the house rules…no pictures. Mid photo, some big, scary security guy grabbed my camera and yelled at me in Vietnamese. Hint taken.

backstreet boys!!!

security ruining my shot

Now, a quick note on the Backstreet Boys themselves. At one point in the concert, they said they’d been together 18 years (I definitely believe this, as I was 12 when I was in my BSB phase…14 years ago). A few things have changed in the 14 years since I’d seen them live…they’re all a little chunkier, a little balder, and a little slower. Their dance moves have definitely deteriorated since the late ’90s. But, no one seemed to notice. Even the young Vietnamese guys in the crowd were belting out tune after tune!

All in all, an incredibly memorable experience that I wouldn’t have missed for the world! It’s not every day the Backstreet Boys come to Vietnam!

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