Remembering the Most Unforgettable Night with Madonna
Exactly 20 years ago today, on Sunday, September 9, 2001, I attended Madonna’s Drowned World Tour at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It was an incredible day like no other before and since. ?
It was the first of her 4 LA dates, which were the last of the entire tour. This was also Madonna’s first tour in 8 years. Since her last one (The Girlie Show in ‘93), she had released 3 albums, made multiple films, found Kabbalah, had 2 children, and remarried. There was a lot to celebrate. And now after starting her trek in Europe and making her way across the US, the Queen was finally in LA and West Hollywood was on high alert. Remember, this was also before social media and YouTube so the only images and clips I had seen were those given to major outlets like Access Hollywood or People magazine.
In the days leading up to the show, I’d run into friends on the street, at bars, in the gym, even the Beverly Center, and the question wasn’t are you going, but which night?!
The excitement was palpable. So much so that hours before the show a 4.2 earthquake, centered a mile east of Weho, rattled the entire city. (For reals, Google it!) Even Mother Nature couldn’t contain her hysteria for the Queen of Pop.
After picking out the perfect bedazzled tank top and bootcut jeans, my friends & I piled into my car en route to Staples. Along the way we’d stop at red lights on Olympic to find other vehicles piled 5 and 6 deep (pre-Uber) with gays and gals decked out in a cornucopia of rhinestone accessories and cowboy hats. Hey, Mr. DJ!
The energy inside Staples was electric. People were running into old friends, making new ones, and comparing statement tees and belt buckles. Drinks were ordered and dancing commenced in the halls. Once at our seats the party revved up. I remember chatting up the strangers next to us as we compared our favorite songs from Ray of Light and Music, and gave reports from what friends in other cities had said about the tour. A wave of applause and gasps gave false hope that the show was about to start, but alas, as it was only Tom Cruise and then-girlfriend Penelope Cruz making their way to the front row.
And then our Sunday service commenced.
In a cloud of dry ice, Madonna rose from the stage singing Drowned World/Substitute for Love as the arena unified in a collective scream. For the next two and a half hours, we danced and sang and watched her do her thing. With no smartphones in the house, everyone’s attention was focused in the now, on the Deity in front of our very eyes. #Blessed
By the time the last bars of “Music” (the final song of the night) faded out, we were exhausted, yet satiated. We were born, crucified and resurrected in the span of 24 songs. It was the end of the show and of an era. Nothing would ever be the same again. It was the end of an innocence that would never fully return.
In less than 48 hours, the world would change forever. ?? ??
There are so many sad, important, and terrible things from the events of that fateful week that I will always remember, but the pure unbridled joy of that night is definitely something I will never forget.
Music makes the people come together. ?