5 Brothers and One of Their Million Sisters: My Journey to Block Vegas Part 3

Berkeley, her mom, my co-workers, and I make our way to the Axis Theater via a ride down the Jon elevator, I believe. It’s a fairly small theater, so there really are no bad seats in the house. We’re 200-level and Berkeley is 100-level. Again agreeing to meet up at the after party, she meanders with her mom down to the front while we make our way to the cheap seats. I push the jealousy down to the bottom of my core so I won’t notice it’s there and soak in the atmosphere. What I didn’t know was that my seats were absolutely perfect. You’ll see why in a second.

At about ten after, the lights dim, music begins, and those five silhouettes appear on stage. Man, that feeling doesn’t get old. The excitement and anticipation knowing that they’re up there, and they’re about to put on a kick-ass show.

Everyone rises to their feet, and so my co-workers do the same. Oops – don’t remember if I warned them that not one person would be sitting down…well, except maybe a husband or two who was unwillingly dragged along by his wife.

The guys of course get the show going great. Not much adlibbing or goofing off, but I expect that knowing that it’s the first show. “Crash,” “Remix,” “The Right Stuff,” etc. But it gets really exciting when “Block Party” comes on.

The guys had just run off stage, and I notice people looking to the right, holding cameras and phones up. Are they coming into the crowd? YES!

Then I see them come out into the walkway that divides the 100-level and 200-level. No wonder those ushers strategically placed themselves where they did.

And then I see Jordan. Right in front of my section. Girls immediately start swarming down to the front of our section. I was lucky enough to be in an aisle seat. So fuck it! I beeline it down there too!

I’m about three girls away from Jordan when I see him look in my direction, and for a second I think he’s looking right at me. But then a girl in front of me blows him a kiss, and he blows one back at her. To this day, I don’t know who he was originally looking at. I swear on my phone it looks like he’s looking at me, but who knows?

Then I see people swarming to the left. Joe is right there too! I swing around and start recording Joe with my phone. But when I turn around and see Jordan standing there, and notice that Joe has distracted so many girls from him, I immediately climb over someone’s leg to plant myself in an open spot just to the left of him on the other side of the divider.

“My Favorite Girl” is mixed with Britney’s “Bring the Action.” Pretty sweet mash up. I can’t believe I’m so close to Jordan Knight – my childhood and current celebrity crush – that I’m just standing there with a huge cheesy grin on my face, watching him dance while I hold my phone up to the side to record. Then he turns around and looks right at me – like right into my eyes – for three whole seconds.

Oh, be still my heart. Okay, so maybe it was only like two seconds, but it felt like an eternity as I replay it in my head in slow-mo.

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He turns around and sings in the other direction. And then…he does it again! Swings around towards me, looks RIGHT INTO MY EYES for like three seconds (okay, maybe two), and this time smiles! *swoon* (Of course my camera goes blurry when he does this, so I can’t relive it over and over again on my phone. Dammit!)

The song closes in on the end, so Jordan walks away. Danny runs by and I reach out my hand for a high five. YES! I touched one of them! Woohoo!

The song ends, and I make my way back to my seat, all giddy. My co-workers are laughing about how they were like, “Where’s Julie?” “Um, I think she’s up there.” Duh, I was up there! How could I not be?

The rest of the concert goes on, and the guys end with the obligatory ballad to the fans, “I’ll Be Loving You Forever”, and the usual “Hangin’ Tough”.

We make our way upstairs to Gallery Nightclub and get into the club early enough to claim a decent spot. It’s my first after party, so I don’t really know what to expect. Only what another BH had told me over Facebook – that I shouldn’t expect anything but a good time. The guys might come out into the crowd, they might not. All of them might show, some might not.

I do notice that girls have perched themselves in the booths right in front of what appears to be a stage-like setup. So I find a spot on a ledge which is between a booth and a set of stairs, across the dance floor from the stage. My little spot is a skinny piece of ledge at the front of the C-shaped booth, so no one can stand to either side of me and potentially obstruct my view. I figure I can stand on the ledge, and I’d have a clear view of the guys (and vice versa, of course). Good move, Julie. Good move.

Berkeley joins us, as do Sacramento 1 and 2. I tell them about the “moment” I shared with Jordan during the concert, and they share in my excitement. I think veteran BHs find it endearing when new ones discover the excitement of their first encounter with the guys.

A couple hours and a heartfelt speech from Jenny McCarthy later, the guys walk through the crowd. I jump down from my ledge in time to brush Joe’s and Jon’s shoulders as they pass. YES! Touched three! Two more to go!

Donnie makes a speech, and the music starts thumping. The guys get the party started!

And then it happens. And I swear I’m not dreaming this. I have eyewitnesses. And if anyone saw this and has a different version of the story, please leave me with my version of this reality so I can die in ignorant bliss.

I’m dancing on my little ledge, and Jordan is dancing right across from me on the stage. He looks right at me, smiles this huge grin, nods at me while he’s dancing, and points right at me. RIGHT AT ME. For like three seconds…maybe two. I don’t know. Again, felt like an eternity in slow-mo.

Seriously, the way he looks at me is like he remembers me from our moment at the concert. Could be the bright orange romper I’m wearing. Bright colors are more memorable than drab ones, right? Glad I chose that outfit!

Maybe I’m making this up in my head, but I swear it happened, and again, if you saw this happen and you clearly saw that he was actually pointing at someone else, please let me have this lie to live. I do have it on camera, but of course when it happens, I’m so excited, my phone loses aim. Ugh!

So as he points at me, I point back at him, smile, and dance. Sacramento 1 grabs my leg (since she’s dancing on the floor), and says something like “Oh my god! Another Jordan moment!” And in the video on my phone when I play it back, I hear myself squeal in excitement, followed by a hearty “Fuck yeah!”

He’s still dancing across from me, and a brief moment happens again! During “California Love,” he makes a sweeping hand motion to my left (his right). Don’t know why, but I mirror his motion. And when I do, he looks at me, smiles, and laughs!

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Wow. Three moments with Jordan Knight in one night. After that, the night is a blur. I’m too giddy to remember much else. I know my co-workers both leave super-early, and Sacramento 1 and 2, Berkeley, and I dance the night away. Sacramento 1 and 2 leave before Berkeley and I do to hit another bar. By the time we leave, all the guys have left, and people have started clearing out.

Satisfied with the night (at least I know I was satisfied), Berkeley and I make our way back up to our rooms, but not before taking more pictures with those awesome elevators.

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My co-workers are snoring the night away as I creep inside. I go to my suitcase to change and stop right in front of it. Crap. I forgot to bring clothes to sleep in. I quickly weigh my options. Sleep naked? Don’t think my co-workers would appreciate that. Sleep in the clothes I’m wearing? Guess that’s my only option.

I slip into bed in my bright orange romper replaying my Jordan moments in my head as I drift off into dreamland.

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5 Brothers and One of Their Million Sisters: My Journey to Block Vegas Part 2

Aw Fuck Yeah. I believe those words literally pass through my lips after I read that headline: New Kids on the Block Announce 4-Day Engagement in Las Vegas. I passed on the cruise. No way in hell could I go to Europe for “An Intimate Evening.” Vegas? I could make that happen. I had to make that happen.

I immediately approach any and all friends that have a remote interest in the New Kids on the Block. The closest I have are friends that liked them back in the day, but don’t really have much of a concept of what they’ve been up to lately. I’m the only one who owns their albums. I’m the only one who knows all the words to their songs, or even knows that Jon is gay for that matter! Well, I just gotta find someone who wants to come with me.

After five friends all back out due to a plethora of reasons – I’m buying a house, I’m going on vacation just prior – I’m left alone. I’m tempted to answer a call on Facebook for a roommate, but I know my husband would not approve. Every day I check to make sure the concerts aren’t selling out. But I soon lose hope and get ready to again live vicariously through YouTube and Twitter.

Then one day, I’m out for Happy Hour with two co-workers that I barely know, and I decide to just throw it out there: “Anyone want to go to Vegas with me for a New Kids on the Block concert?”

After the all-too-expected laughing and “Really?” and “They’re still together?” and “You’re too funny!” they say, “Sure! That’ll be fun!”

Score! I don’t even care that one of them wasn’t even a fan back in the day! It’s people to go to Vegas with!

That night, as I’m getting ready to buy our tickets, I freak out. Wait a second, July 10-13? Why does that sound like an important weekend? I check my calendar. One of my good friends is getting married that weekend! NOOOOOO!!!!! Check again. Okay, whew, it’s on Sunday afternoon. I can fly out of Vegas on Sunday morning or Saturday night. Okay, not ideal, but not the end of the world. Crisis averted!

I get Thursday night tickets since they have the best seats left for the amount of money I think my co-workers would be willing to pay. I’m tempted to do VIP, but I don’t want to abandon them. So I settle for 200-level seats.

Then the after parties and pool party are announced! I totally miss out on the pool party because I was super busy that day at work and just plum forgot that they went on sale! Kicking myself, I’m relieved that the Thursday after party is still available.

After purchasing after party tickets, my plane tickets, and booking our room at Planet Hollywood, I’m all set! Now if only July 10th could get here more quickly.

The months slowly pass, but eventually I find myself kissing my kids gently on the head as I softly sneak out the door to catch my 7am flight to Vegas. On the plane I “get myself in the mood” with headphones in ears playing NKOTB and Jordan Knight tunes.

We land, I catch a cab to Planet Hollywood, and I see this as I step out of the taxi:

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Woohoo! I have arrived! NKOTB is in the building! (Or somewhere else on the strip, but nearby nonetheless!)

I don’t even care that I’m by myself because my co-workers don’t get in until late afternoon. After taking some selfies in front of the elevators, I go up to the hotel room, blast more NKOTB and Jordan Knight while I claim my bed (the one by the window of course), unpack my stuff, and do my nails. You know, because if I did happen to run into the guys in the casino, heaven forbid I have naked nails.

The grumbling in my stomach signals to me that I should head downstairs and find something to eat. It’s 11:00, and I know the VIP and after party early check-in has started. Based on the emails and Twitter correspondence I had with On the List Presents, I don’t think I can check in without my whole party present. So I decide to post on the Seattle Blockheads page to see if anyone is around. I get one response, so I decide to head down and try to find her.

As I head downstairs, I see a crazy long line looping around the bar at the entrance to the mall. Is this the VIP line? Day-yum!

I decide to ask the last person in line if she knows if I can check in without my entire party present. She responds that she thinks so, so I decide to stand in line anyway just in case I can pick up the passes. What else am I doing right now, right? (Sorry BH from Facebook!)

We start chatting it up, and I learn that she’s there with her mom, she met the guys for the first time doing the Package Tour Total Package, and she’s staying on the same floor as I am. (Let’s call her Berkeley.) Berkeley is totally the chatty type who can make friends wherever she goes, which is good for me, because I’m not. So together, it works! She even starts chatting with the ladies behind us, who we’ll call Sacramento 1 and Sacramento 2.

Before I know it, we’re exchanging Twitter handles and taking pictures. I post my first picture from Vegas: “Met my first BHs at Planet Hollywood! #BHLove #NKOTBAfterDark.”

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So we’re standing in the long ass line for what feels like forever, and we’re finally second and third in line when an Axis Theater employee and security guard firmly explain to us and the hundred or so people behind us that they’re shutting down the line.

Seriously?! We stood in line for almost two hours for absolutely nothing? Much bitching ensues, but we all soon agree that it wasn’t all a wash because we met each other. Yay! BH Friends! After the bitch-fest, we realize how starved we are, so we head to Gordon Ramsay for burgers.

During lunch I learn that Sacramento 1 and Sacramento 2 are best friends and are veterans at the whole Blockhead thing. They’ve cruised two times, they’ve met the guys multiple times, they’ve been to numerous concerts. Berkeley and I are not as versed in the Blockhead world, but Berkeley has at least met the guys once (not counting when she met Joey during his “Stay the Same” days).

I find myself explaining a few things to Berkeley, surprisingly. Mostly social media things like other BHs to follow and how Andrea Barber (surprisingly she doesn’t know who she is – must not have watched much TV growing up) is a huge NKOTB fan along with Candace Cameron Bure. So I show her a picture of Andrea Barber on Instagram. (This will be very important later – stay tuned.)

Mid-way through lunch one of my co-workers shows up and joins us. It’s very apparent that she’s not a Blockhead due to her referring to the guys as “The Quiet One” and “The Little One.” So after we part ways, exchange numbers, and agree to meet up later at the concert and/or after party, I educate her on NKOTB 101 – what are their names, what are their most popular songs, etc.

After some crappy (non) pool time (there was no space around the tiny-ass pool, so we were stuck sunbathing on the barren concrete slab between the two “Pleasure Pools” – one of which was closed), my other co-worker finally joins us just in time for me to head back up to our room to start getting ready.

Two hours later (yes, I take forever to get ready, especially when there is a fraction of a chance I might get a split second with any of the guys), I get a text from Berkeley to come over to her room so we can head down together. My co-workers take about a quarter of the time I took to get ready, so we’re soon on our way over to Berkeley and her mom and heading downstairs to the Axis Theater.

I’m ready for an epic night!

5 Brothers and One of Their Million Sisters: My Journey to Block Vegas Part 1

I was eight years old, and I could belt Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” at the top of my lungs word for word. Without a clue that it wasn’t even her original song, I vividly remember waiting to get picked up from school while singing it with my best friend. Not to mention some Belinda Carlisle and Tommy Page (“A Shoulder to Cry On” is our song).

Then one fateful day, my sister introduced me to them – New Kids on the Block. My sister is seven years older than me. So here I am, a bright-eyed 4th grader, and here’s my sister, in her prime in high school. Her fangirling and celebrity crushes definitely rubbed off on me – the likes of Michael J. Fox and Ricky Schroder. But NKOTB…oh, NKOTB. I remember the Hangin’ Tough cassette tape – the posters of Jordan and Jon. The Hangin’ Tough VHS. Jon and Donnie running through that New Orleans cemetery. They are the only ones who could make a cemetery sexy.

My mom was your typical strict Asian mother. It would be a cold day in hell if she ever let my sister, let alone me, go to a concert. So we watched them from afar. I daydreamed about my sister dating Jon, and me dating Jordan…Oh that Jordan Knight. With his rat tail and smooth falsetto. *swoon*

I quickly learned all the words to all the songs (even the more obscure ones like “Hold On”), and before long I had worn out the cassette tape, and my sister had moved on to other things.

Then came the ‘90s. And I entered my formidable pubescent years. Living in the Pacific Northwest, my longing to conform forced me into the world of grunge. I abandoned my first love, and joined the ranks of Nirvana, STP, and Pearl Jam fans in my flannel and Doc Martens. And NKOTB disbanded.

Flash forward 14 years. I hear that the New Kids on the Block had been on the Today Show. What?! The New Kids are getting back together? After all these years? Interesting, I thought to myself.

Without any way to record the event, I catch it later on YouTube. I watch the guys perform “The Right Stuff” and their new song “Summertime.” I call my sister: “Did you hear the New Kids got back together?” “No, really?” “Yeah, they were on the Today Show.” “And?” “They’re trying too hard.”

*GASP*

What?!?!?! What kind of a Blockhead are you?

I wasn’t one. I admit – I was not a Blockhead. At that moment in time, I was not. A couple years go by. I hear that the New Kids on the Block are touring with Backstreet Boys. That seems like an odd combination to me.

Then one day my co-worker stops by my office on her way out. “Have a good night!” she says. “I’m heading to the NKOTBSB concert! Woohoo!”

“What?” I ask her. A thought crosses my mind: I loved those guys back in the day. That would be a fun concert.

Realizing that I was at the time extremely pregnant, I acknowledge that it wouldn’t have been a good time for me to go anyway. Oh well, I’ll catch them next time around.

That night I go home, and on a whim decide to go to nkotb.com and sign up to be on their email list. I get notifications about merchandise and something called the Mixtape Festival that is way too far away for me anyway.

Then one day I get an email – New Kids on the Block Announce New Album and The Package Tour.

What?! They’ll be touring with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men??? Two bands that I loved in the ‘90s? Hell-to-the-Yes!

I immediately email my co-worker who had gone to the NKOTBSB concert and find two other co-workers to go with us. I immediately start YouTubing New Kids television appearances, music videos, fan-captured after parties.

And then something inside me clicks. It’s like a part of me is brought to life. I download their 2008 album and Jordan’s Unfinished album, I YouTube all their old concert videos, I order Coming Home, I kick myself for not knowing they were at the movie theater I ALWAYS GO TO for an exclusive screening of Coming Home ON MY BIRTHDAY, I die a bit inside knowing Jordan had a concert merely 2.5 hours away only two months ago. I get on Twitter and start following all of them, I voraciously read 5 Brothers and a Million Sisters, I join the Seattle Blockheads Facebook page and gush about how I long for a community to share this newly re-discovered love. I learn that Donnie divorced Kim Fey, I learn Joe has three cute kids, I learn Danny used to do something with private jetliners, I learn Jordan owns a gym in Rhode Island, I learn Jon’s boyfriend is a personal trainer. I get caught up on five years of lost time in a matter of one month.

The only justifiable reason that I can conjure up for missing the last five years and being so dumb as to not care when they got back together was divine intervention. Just after the New Kids got back together was when I got pregnant and subsequently had two kids. If I had re-discovered them again at that point in time, who knows what kind of conflict would have ensued? There would have been many-an argument with my husband and mother about “You can’t go on a New Kids cruise! You have a 3-month-old to think about!” (The conversation is much easier when your kids are at least eating solids.)

I get my tickets to the Package Tour. My friends are all making fun of me because I’m waiting with my finger on my mouse for AMEX Pre-Sale to start. I buy our tickets, and I am just completely giddy with excitement.

Over the course of the next few months, as I eagerly await the concert, I’m stuck in one of the most trying times in my personal and professional life. I cry almost every day. One day, I have a nervous breakdown in front of my kids, and my husband offers to take them out of the house for the day so I can have some time alone. I gather myself off the couch, drag myself into the shower, and turn on some music – New Kids on the Block, of course. Before I know it, I’m singing and dancing in the bathroom. The New Kids were my release, my escape, my solace. I love my husband, and he is the key reason I survived that time in my life. But at that moment in time, the New Kids may have saved my sanity. Standing in my bathroom with wet hair dripping down my back and Summertime blasting on my speakers, I thank them on Twitter, and know that they are something very special to me.

The Package Tour comes, and Donnie’s pledge resonates so hard with me. I avidly repeat after him and pledge to leave all the worries, drama, and fears behind me. For that night at least, we owned that night. The music starts, and the five silhouettes appear on stage. I jump up and the feeling that washes over me is unlike anything I had ever anticipated. I could literally feel the energy, love, excitement bubble up from my feet and fill my entire body, gushing out the top.

I jump up and down, scream, sing along, dance, and am entranced by these five guys. My girlfriends to the right of me may as well not have even been there because I am so razor focused on those five men on the stage. (Those girls don’t even know the words to their new songs anyway.)

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Almost three hours later it’s over. And all I can do is watch my videos and follow the rest of their tour on YouTube and Twitter.

The cruise comes and goes, and even though I had told myself I was going to go as a reward to myself for all the crap I had gone through the last few months, when the time came, I couldn’t justify the required financial investment because of some money issues we were having. I of course live vicariously through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to catch any morsel of the event that I could.

Then…the special announcement: Announcing New Kids on the Block After Dark – 4 days of special engagements in Las Vegas.

Aw Fuck Yeah.