How long does it take to get into a concert in Brazil?

A few years ago, my baby sister was part of a theater group, whose most recent accomplishment at the time was winning a chorus competition on a very popular variety show on national TV. Since then, they’d been getting calls left and right to perform at events, many of which were local. One of these calls was a request to open for a band that was going to be playing in town, the same band whose songs the group had performed on TV. It was a good opportunity for exposure, so naturally they accepted.

My sister informed us of the date and time of the concert, then told us that everyone in her group would be putting the names of their family members on a list so they could get in for free. After all, what’s the point of paying full retail for a concert ticket if you’re only going to watch your kid perform in the beginning instead of staying for the whole show? It made sense.

On the day of the show, my dad and I drove down to the concert hall to see my sister’s group perform. My mom couldn’t come with us, since she was out of town at the time, so I took my digital camera with me to record it for her. We got there about half an hour before the show was supposed to start, and found a long line outside leading into the building. The man at the entrance of the parking lot told us that parking was going to cost R$25 (Brazilian reals). To give an idea, that’s about 15 US dollars. My dad thought this was a bit steep for only a couple of hours, but we were going to watch my sister on stage one way or another, and the price wasn’t going down, so we paid and left our car in the lot.

If my dad had known the ordeal we were about to go through, he might have tried a little harder to haggle with the attendant.

The line outside the concert hall prompted a wait of about ten minutes to get into the building. When we finally reached the ticket counter, my dad mentioned the list with the names of the family members of the theater group that would be opening the show. One would have thought he was speaking a different language, based on the looks he got from the ladies behind the counter.

“What list?”

That was the last thing my dad wanted to hear when asking for tickets to the concert of a nationally famous band. He wasn’t prepared to shell out for something that was obviously going to be way too expensive, so he insisted that there was indeed a list. He was not alone in this argument; a few other families whose names should have been on that list showed up right behind us, asking the same questions my dad was. The staff then took the time to search through their VIP lists, which for some reason were located on the other side of a curtain behind the ticket counter instead of on the counter itself. I can only assume that’s what made them nearly impossible to find, since this process seemed to take three staff members a total of almost ten minutes to complete. When they finally returned to face a small crowd consisting mostly of confused parents, they did in fact have the mysteriously elusive list in hand. However, it came with some bad news: the list was not official, since the group hadn’t secured permission for it with the managers of the concert hall, so it was not valid for free admission. Great.

Well, turning around and leaving was not an option, since we had come with a special purpose (and a digital camera). From this point, we could either continue insisting on complementary VIP entrance just to see the opening act, or simply pay for VIP tickets. It’s probably obvious which was our first choice, but when that plan failed, my dad pulled out his wallet in defeat. This should have been the end of our struggle to get into the concert. Sadly, it was only about to get worse.

“Do you take credit cards?”

“Sorry, sir. Our card machine isn’t working today. Cash only.”

“Cash only” wasn’t a problem most of the time, but that’s because most of the time we weren’t obligated to pay overprice for parking. To our dismay, my dad discovered upon opening his wallet that he no longer had enough cash on hand to buy admission for both of us. The irony of this was that he was less than R$20 short of what we needed. It’s moments like these that make some of us wish irony were an actual person, just so it could literally be smacked in the face.

Our choices for how to get into the concert had been narrowed down to paying for tickets by credit card, and even that didn’t seem like an option. Still, we were determined. Now my dad was asking if they had any other card machines around the building that he could use to buy tickets. When the staff couldn’t provide one right away, he went so far as to visit the gift booth on the other side of the room to find one that might work. I stayed by the ticket counter, laughing to myself as I wondered who in the world Murphy was and how he could possibly have understood the universe so well that he even came up with a law to account for its perversity. I hid the smile on my face when I saw my dad walking back with an annoyed expression on his. No luck at the gift booth. This was really getting ridiculous.

Thankfully, it was around this point that we found a ray of hope. A man appeared from behind the curtain dividing the entrance and the concert floor just as my dad was explaining to the ladies at the counter that all he wanted to do tonight was watch his teenage daughter sing and dance on stage. What I saw next was proof to me that there are few things women find sweeter than a man who is genuinely supportive of his daughter’s career in the performing arts. While the ladies started to put a little more effort into helping us, the man who had just arrived, having obviously overheard, introduced himself to my dad as the manager of the concert hall. As it turned out, he had seen the theater group performing on national TV, and he remembered my sister from her solo in that performance, as well as having had the pleasure of meeting her and being charmed by her sweet personality.

The manager quickly sent someone to fetch a credit card machine from the bar inside the floor. A few minutes later, my dad and I finally had the VIP tickets we had thought would have taken much less time to buy. We thanked the staff for all their help, bypassed security, and made our way inside to the section of the floor closest to the stage.

The rest of the evening went about as well as one could imagine. My sister’s group was as great as ever, definitely worth the hassle to come and watch. It didn’t even matter that the show started over an hour late. Or that I had forgotten to clear out space in the digital camera’s memory, so we had to keep deleting old photos between songs so we could keep filming my sister. Or that we found out later that night that we could have gotten in for free the whole time if we had met with the other parents in the parking lot before the show. No, it didn’t matter. For the most part.

How long does it take to get into a concert in Brazil? If you’re lucky, less than half an hour. If the universe decides to make you its next victim, though, all you can really do is accept the test of patience while trying your best to laugh at the absurdity of life.

I wrote this short story as an assignment for the Humor module of my online UCBX creative writing course. The piece is based on a true story that happened to me and my dad a couple of years ago, and because of the absurdity of the events that took place that night, I thought it would make a great funny story. I hope you enjoy what I’ve written. Thanks for reading!

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