The lights are off, the screen covering the stage is streaked with a grid of green laser lights, and the first few notes of "Dance in the Dark" wash over the screeching crowd like an ocean of purifying water. Though the concert's upcoming storyline depicts a magical, nonfictional journey to the Monster Ball reminiscent of a Broadway show, this opening number is a sign to the fans that they've finally made it to see the one and only, Lady Gaga.
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Once the fans are finally admitted entry, you can hear their joyous cries all the way from inside the concourse where eager workers at food and merchandise stands await their arrival. The halls are thriving with colorfully dressed Little Monsters in hand made outfits either matching ones that Lady Gaga has worn herself, or their own creative interpretations. Mothers with their children, significant others with one another, friends, siblings, even the loners who came by themselves - every walk of life is ready for the Monster Ball to begin.
Once inside the arena where the stage has been set up, the fans interact with each other between each act that goes on. Sometimes, the results are amazing - though it's a New York show, there is a small cluster of fans in GA who are standing by one another who happen to be from the New England area, even though they never met before this moment.
It's pertinent to mention that the Monster Ball is not always the perfect place that Lady Gaga wants it to be for her fans. There are those who treat the concert as an excuse to drink to excess, or the sheer magnitude of so much human interaction brings out the worst in people.
One fan vomits on the general admission floor, her and her smug friends smile as they can barely stand each other up and they then barrel their way through the crowd with swinging elbows to get up to the front, making a slew of fans extremely angry. There are also those who injure themselves, or worse, get assaulted by other patrons - being rolled out on gurneys or wheelchairs, crying that they're missing the show. It is sad this happens, but it is a reality and a reflection of the fact that best intentions don't always cross over to less than respectable concert goers.
Perhaps it's best to pull the focus to the woman without whom, the Monster Ball would not be possible - Stefani Joanne Angelina Germonatta, Mother Monster, Gaga-loo, or simply, Lady Gaga. A woman who has lamented on a recently released bonus clip for her upcoming HBO special that there are those who can't look past her wigs and makeup and try to destroy her.
Gaga states in her show several times that the Monster Ball is a safe haven for her fans - a place that promotes freedom and healing from past transgressions done against the Little Monsters for being different. It's apparent from the energy she pulls from this crowd and throws back at them that the Ball is as much a sanctuary for her as it is for her fans.
The Virgin Mobile call is no doubt one of the best parts of the night. A young fan in her 20's named Amanda from New Jersey is told she's the winner a few songs into the concert and is prepared to speak to Mother Monster herself before the musical number "Telephone". Once the call takes place, her and Gaga speak as if they are old friends - they talk about how both of their moms are here at this very same show and how Gaga's mother doesn't quite approve of her yellow dyed hair, to which the audience shares a laugh.
After the call takes place, Amanda is brought to the concourse hallway for the microphone which they used so the whole audience can hear the call to be removed from her vest. She finally realizes she is soon going to be meeting Lady Gaga and the magnitude kicks in as she breaks down into tears.
"It was amazing and I'm so grateful," the fan reminisces about the call, her eyes still misty. "She's been my idol and I love her so much!"
There are parts of the show where the coherent members of the audience can sense Gaga's exhaustion. It's almost as if she sleep walks through certain pieces of songs - familiar with the steps and the words, but she'll stand, mouth open and taking in the audience while the back up vocalists fill the air with the oh so familiar lyrics and the brilliant musicians play on.
These parts are few and far in between - there are then the life changing moments where she is fully with us, belting out harmonies and swearing on the holy relationship she has with her fans that she has never, and will never, lip sync. The fully executed dance routines where her face is bright and smiling matched with a tremendous voice give the fans exactly what they came for.
It's no surprise, however, that the songstress' speeches for every Monster Ball, all varying night to night, are what bring the house down. For someone so illusive in the general media when speaking on her personal life, she always gives her fans some anecdote from her life to walk away with for themselves.
Gaga tells a story of how while she was in high school, some boys who were mutual friends of hers who also befriended some of her female bullies committed a cruel joke on her by tossing her into the garbage. "So I just want to say to you that I am living proof that if anyone ever puts you in a [expletive] trash can, you can always get the [expletive] out."
As thousands of hands form the signature Gaga paw in the air, the fans are rewarded with a laureate cry. "Know pain?! Keep going!"