Today marks the one year anniversary of one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Due to my inability to leave out details, this will be told in 3 parts. For a summary, see my Twitter thread here.
PART I: ORIGIN OF LOVE
As a 14-year old dealing with issues, family problems, boy trouble and a best friend who had just been cheated on, I turned on the music and told her that we needed to dance it out (we did this waaaay before Christina and Meredith).
Grace Kelly played and we danced around her room, climbing the furniture and feeling happy.
“Who is this?” I shouted, while dancing.
“Mika, I think, Bee gave me this mixed CD” she responded while doing a twirl.
It could just be one good song, I thought.
HEY, WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?
“Ah, this is also Mika” she shouted and we continued dancing her sadness away.
Fast forward to a troubled Shameez sitting in the lounge, waiting to go to school and dreading everything. I remember the dread, I remember the reason. My sister’s always took three times as long as I did to get ready, so I turned on the TV and put on TRACE MUSIC.
Positivity radiated throughout me as I watched Mika have the time of his life, appreciating fat women and dancing around. I loved seeing these women wear bright, risqué clothing and not having a care in the world. The dread was less.
I got my hands on an illegal copy of Life in Cartoon Motion (I could not afford anything else at the time, but rest assured, I have paid him back). This album triggered a joy inside of me that I didn’t realise music had control of.
The following year, the friend who I had danced away the sadness with gifted me with the Live in Cartoon Motion DVD. Another element was added, as it turns out, it wasn’t only his music that cheered me up, it was him; his dancing, his facial expressions and the pure joy he put out into the world.
I watched the DVD whenever I needed to.
At this point my parents had started supporting the obsession, they knew it was a coping mechanism, and they knew that it was better than drugs, so why not?
I joined the Mika Fan Club and found fans online just as dedicated to him as I was. Being the only South African fan, I became the South African Ambassador for the Mika Fan Club, which as a 14-year old, was a pretty cool thing to be.
Fast forward – 11 years later and even though my entire life has changed, my ringtone has not. My legal CD and DVD collection grew and le Husb started singing along too. One of the promises he made to me when he proposed, was that he would take me to see Mika one day.
PART II: MAKE YOU HAPPY
Le Husb and I decided that with all the years we studied and worked, we deserved a real holiday. Turkey was my country of choice, rich is history, islam, beautiful views and tasty food. In November 2015, I booked our flights for August 2016 and I started planning.
Everything was planned within a month, accommodation, internal flights, itineraries, VISA application forms… E V E R Y T H I N G. I spent at least an hour every day on TripAdvisor asking questions. Now we just needed to wait 9 entire months.
As luck would have it, we had to cancel our trip to Turkey. I was genuinely upset as I had invested so much time and money in it.
Husb, “What can I do to make you happy?”
Me, “To see MIKA, I have been wanting to see him for 10 years. What can I do to make you happy?”
Him, “To see my family, I haven’t seen them in 10 years”
Mika happened to be performing his final concert for the summer on the 02 August 2016, which lined up perfectly with our flight dates. We diverted to Italy and Greece instead. Navigating an Italian ticketing page that Google refused to translate, I purchased two tickets to Mika at Villa Erba, Cernobbio, Lake Como.
I PURCHASED TWO TICKETS TO MIKA.
I stared at my receipt. Were we really flying all the way to Italy to see Mika? Was I crazy? Undoubtedly yes. Was it worth it? Undoubtedly yes.
After further translating issues, we realised that because we don’t live in Italy, we would have to collect the ticket at the venue on the day of the concert.
Then we had to wait. Except, this time, it was just a month away.
PART III: HAPPY ENDING
“Babe, we are going to see MIKA” my husband would say everyday on the way to work as we listened to Mika’s latest album.
“No, sssh” I would say. I refused to believe it would happen. I became superstitious and a complete mess, because I attend many concerts and am not a stranger to hearing that a concert has been cancelled or postponed. Both of which would not work if we are flying there.
The night before the concert, we walked by the venue and noticed tents. FANS HAD ERECTED TENTS OUTSIDE THE VENUE THE NIGHT BEFORE.
“Oh, don’t tell me you’re going to make me sleep outside the venue” my husband mumbled, knowing it was a possibility.
“No, it’s fine… I am just glad to be here” I said, unconvincingly and completely afraid that I would be stuck behind someone at the show. Have I mentioned that I am all of 1.52m ‘tall’?
I logged into the MFC to let them know that after 10 years of being a dedicated fan and member of the site, I would finally see him.
To my surprise, Mika decided that for just this one concert, because it was the last part of his summer tour, he would do a meet and greet with 100 fans.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
I emailed my entry and said a prayer.
The next morning we were up early, gulped down our cappuccinos and went to the venue. A fellow MFC member wrote our numbers on our hands. She had a list of who arrived when, and said we could find a shady place to sit in the 37 degree weather and just before the show she would get us in a line according to our numbers.
We sat in the sun for hours, and for once, I was wearing my MIKA T-shirt and so was everybody else. I befriended a lovely lady who happened to speak some English, Maria. She helped translate what everyone else was saying.
Just before the show, they announced that everyone with a ticket could line up.
I didn’t have a ticket. The venue’s ticket office was still closed and a new queue formed without me.
“It’s okay, my love, at least we’re here. Let’s just go and chill, since we can’t queue anyway” he said before taking walk back to the hotel. Every two hours or so he would take a walk back to the hotel to check our emails, just in case we won. So far, he had always come back shaking his head from side to side.
I waited for him, feeling a bit sorry for myself. Stupid ticketing office. Stupid competition.
I watched in the distance as he approached again, shaking his head from side to side.
“It’s okay” I repeated back to him, “At least we are here, I never thought it would happen, and look at this beautiful place it has-”
“I am sorry beb, but… you’re gonna meet him” he said, a huge smile spreading across his face.
“What?” I asked, my mind blocking news that was so unbelievably good.
He handed me my cellphone with the translated email. Congratulations! It said and described that we were selected as 2 out of the 100 fans who would get to meet him, out of the thousands of upon thousands of fans that were there to see him.
“It’s not true” I argued.
“My wife, it’s true!” he cheered.
Conveniently, the backstage pass needed to be collected at the ticketing office, so once again, things just seem to happen for a reason.
I excitedly and wordlessly shoved my cellphone in the ticketing lady’s face, she spoke no English and me, no Italian.
She whipped out a separate sheet of paper, with only 100 names on it, and ticked it off. She handed me my beautiful backstage pass and I clutched on to it whispering, “My precioussss”.
We made our way in to the most beautiful concert venue I had ever seen. Green freshly cut grass spreading in each direction with a pathway of trees towering above us. We strolled through, already late, and found ourselves faced with the actual venue, Villa Erba, a beautiful structure, the same building used in Gwen Stefani’s Cool.
We watched as the sun set and the Villa lit up. I had already seen enough to go home happy and nothing had even happened yet.
We befriended two more women, whose names I can’t remember, both of them extremely friendly with English good enough to converse easily.
My husband prepared his video camera as the lights went out. He turned it to face me.
“Hey wife” he said.
“Hey beb, don’t record me during this show” I replied.
And then it started, Mika ran out swinging, singing Step with Me and there I was, seeing him live, after 10 years of using a mere DVD to get me through. Overwhelmed with every good feeling and every thought about what I could have done to deserve this, I cried and my husband looked down at me and LAUGHED.
He sang almost all of my favourites, from the first album to the last. Big Girl was up next, and I almost laughed at how overwhelmed I was. I sang-cried and thankfully that was not on the video. Lost in a daze, I watched as he ran around the stage, shaking his hips and jumping wherever he could.
And then I was brought back to a beautiful reality when he sang Grace Kelly, the first Mika song I heard, my ringtone, my favourite. Gosh, writing this is giving me goosebumps.
He addressed the crowd, sometimes in English, sometimes in Italian. I laughed when everyone else laughed, because even though I didn’t understand it, he was obviously very funny.
A dedicated fan handed out cut out yellow stars before the show and when Good Guys was performed, we all knew it was time to use it.
If we are all in the gutter, it doesn’t change who we are
‘Cause some of us in the gutter are looking up at the stars
Across the field, paper stars were being held up towards a night sky, swaying from side to side as every person, English or not, sang along to the lyrics.
He had the most fun during Boum Boum Boum and Staring at the Sun. Confetti was thrown everywhere, including emptying an entire bag of it on his curly hair. He interacted with the crowd and eventually had his guitarist involved in a sing-off on top of the piano.
If you’re familiar with Mika’s concerts, you will know that every piece of stage equipment/furniture is actually just another stage for Mika to climb.
No Place in Heaven, although upbeat, is rather personal. Hiding sadness behind a happy beat is one of Mika’s specialties.
Song after song, I sang along to every single lyric, and all the people who could not speak English to me, sang along to the every English lyric too, a lot more accurately than when I sang along to his French songs.
Eventually my dream concert came to an end and ended off with a bang, Love Today. Where, Maria warned me before the show, “He ends off with Love Today, always and just goes crazy”. He did. We all did.
He greeted the crowd and thanked them for supporting him throughout his summer tour and ran off stage. Everyone took a few seconds to revisit the show in their minds, some smiling, others laughing. The air was lighter and happier.
But it wasn’t over for me just yet.
We made our way to the front of the stage and flashed our backstage passes. The security guard let us through and told us to wait at the back of the stage, I WAS ACTUALLY BACKSTAGE YOU GUYS. I AM BASICALLY A CELEB.
We entered the Villa and looked up, the walls seemed to go up and up and up. The inside was just as fancy as the outside and part of the excitement was just being able to be there, in this gorgeous building.
The one hundred of us stood around, chatting, they treated us to some drinks and snacks and then he was there.
He thanked us for attending and ended up giving a long speech (in English, thank goodness), a beautiful speech thanking his fans for sticking with him for so long. His words were sincere and I still could not believe that I was lucky enough to be there.
Afterwards he spoke to us individually, fans crowding around him and eventually, when I had his attention, all I managed was.
“I CAME FROM SOUTH AFRICA”
I didn’t think to introduce myself, or compliment the amazing performance. No, instead, all I wanted him to know, after ten years of being a fan, was that I am from South Africa.
His response was professional, even though I was not, “Hi, I am so glad you came. It’s really nice to meet you”
And then, because of my complete shock, I simply forgot words or how to English. I nodded at him and ran away.
Miks and I walked out, both of us in complete shock.
WHAT THE F*** JUST HAPPENED?
Him, “YOU MET THE MIKA”
Him, “YOU MET THE MIKA”
It was the early hours of the next morning, the town was quiet, and we walked into an open lounge. We ordered cappuccinos and pulled out celebratory cigars (I don’t even smoke).
In silence, we blew smoke into the night sky, watching as other concert-goers walked home, waited for taxis and chatted excitedly about everything that had just happened.
Cancelling a trip happened to coincide with Mika’s last concert of the summer.
There were still tickets available.
It was happening in the most beautiful place in the entire world.
We made it there, with no delays, and the concert was not cancelled.
He decided that he wants to meet 100 fans.
We won, out of possibly 7000 attendees or so.
We saw Mika live.
We met Mika.
All by chance and I will forever be grateful for it.
Shameez, the Mika Freaka =)