Art & Events

My experience at the 2021 Soul Train Awards.

I truly believe in the power of manifestations, the power of thoughts, the power of my energy. I recently started journaling again after months of depression and felt such a shift in my life. I wrote a detailed manifestation list last month, from losing weight to attending awards shows. Listing all the things that I would like to accomplish and things that would bring me joy, the very next day I get an email inviting me to the soultrain awards! I was besides myself, but also not surprised; I’ve manifested so many amazing opportunities and felt very grateful. I had so many thoughts about whether or not I should go, one being that it was being held in the historic Apollo theater where countless legends have performed; but two I was gonna step outside my comfort zone and go to the event alone. Not to mention Ashanti & Maxwell set to perform! How could I not go?! But as a music fan I can assure you I was shocked at the treatment we received. This will be an unfiltered account of my experience, although I’m sure many of the people there would agree with me. By the end of the night I was exhausted and felt taken advantage of to be honest, BET you need to treat your fans with more respect than this! I’m writing this post for the music fans out there, if you’ve ever wanted to go as a casted member let me just say nothing is what it seems.

Ok so here’s a breakdown of how it went. I got the text to covid test, it was fast and easy got my results by email and the official invite the night before the recording. I was so excited! Had my outfit picked out, I wore flats because they said wear comfortable shoes because we’d be moving around a lot; to ensure everyone had a chance to have good seats. That was a lie! They said check in was at 1pm! I was shocked at the early check in time, considering the show didn’t start till 7:30pm. The line was long! Longer than I expected and luckily it was a nice weather day, though no coat check so we had to carry our belongings all day. I met some nice people on line as we made our way through check in, they handed out free popcorn and drinks and sat us in a theater to watch a movie; which I found odd but whatever. Now this is when I knew it would be a loooong day, one of the BET employees tells us that we have to lock our phones up before even entering the theater.None of this was mentioned in the email, I feel like they purposely did this because they know a lot of people wouldn’t of agreed to that. It’s not even about taking pictures, though that would’ve been nice considering it all; but in this day and age I dont like not having my phone on me for extended periods of time. I know this was pre recorded but come on, the stars were posting pictures and videos of the event why couldn’t the fans? Im sure the artists had no idea of this, even the host Tichina Arnold was shocked we weren’t allowed to have phones; her exact words were “that’s wack!” And i agree!! My anxiety was through the roof but I somehow held it together.

After locking our phones up in a pouch, We walked to the theater like a large class field trip, went through the metal detectors and headed up to the balcony behind several large black curtains. Mind you other than the guy who told us we wouldn’t have our phones, no one was communicating with us. It felt like we were just props, not people with emotions or needs; such as food! Not to mention no air or ventilation and though everyone was covid tested it wasn’t a good feeling being there. We were up there for three hours as the artists did rehearsals, which would’ve been ok if we were able to at least watch. Everytime we tried to peek someone would shut them rudely in front of us. So no food, no phones, sitting in a small, hot, cramped space for hours isn’t what we signed up for. What was the need to be there in formal wear without letting us go out for food or use our phones. Made no sense to me, luckily I made friends with the girls next to me which made it more bearable but we were miserable. A couple people in our group started dancing trying to keep our moral up, and I’m grateful for them because the vibes weren’t it.

After a few hours I went downstairs to ask someone if we were gonna be in the balcony the whole time. They then told me yes, which was another lie we were told we’d move around. She then proceeded to tell me after rehearsals they’d move the curtains so we could move down a bit. That was my silver lining, because if I wasnt able to record or take pics of my favorite artists at least I’d be able to see them live. I knew it was gonna be a mess when they moved the curtains, and I was right. The moment they moved that curtain it was a stampede to get out of there, I honestly can’t blame anyone we felt like caged animals. The security guard told us to go back to our seats, more miscommunication led to us being even further back in the audience. Honestly I’m surprised no one was hurt or fainted. I was so annoyed, tired and hungry by then having been there for so long I just wanted to enjoy the show. Thankfully we found seats closer with great views of the stage, that was the first moment I could say I thought it was worth it. Once again music saved me.

Even though Bruno Mars performance was via satellite, Ashanti and Maxwells performances were amazing to me! Jazmine Sullivan gave an empowering speech that made me feel I was meant to be there. I realized I had to make the most of the situation, I got up and danced the hunger pains away and tried to forget the mess of the day. Like I said I’m truly grateful I was invited I’m just so disappointed at how they treated us, the fans. All I could think about was how my excitement turned into sadness, We’re the fans, were the ones supporting these artists and venues and this is the thanks we get?! Now I never experienced this before, but im pretty sure the other awards shows don’t do this to their fans. It was so hard not to think it was because of the racial demographic, BET really dropped the ball with this one. They said eat before, but with check in time being 1pm and leaving the event at midnight that’s a long time to expect people not to eat. Like what about people who take medication or diabetes? That’s dangerous and unethical, it just human decency to treat people better than this. If there’s anything that life taught me is to know my worth, even if it’s free they knew the audience they chose to do this to and it was wrong. If you’ve been wanting to be in the audience for an awards show I would say go for the experience but be ready to not get the best treatment or better yet don’t go and have them raise their standards and treat fans with the respect they deserve!

NYC based Blogger and Podcast Host, Advocate for Empowement and Mental Health Awareness

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