I had the great pleasure of attending the opening show of Janet Jackson's State of the World North American Tour. What a DELIGHT! Like the best entertainers, Janet kept the set list to all of her greatest hits! Isn't that all any of us really want? To be transported to wherever we were taping Casey's Top 40 onto a blank cassette? [If you were born after 1990 you may not understand that reference... it's okay, Aunt Katie is here.] Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from Janet Jackson's State of the World North American Tour:
(5) We are a part of the Rhythm Nation.
I'll be honest. I bought the tickets solely to witness Ms. Jackson dance to Rhythm Nation LIVE! I still remember all of the choreography from the 1989 music video & my 1995 dance revue!! It's fascinating to listen to a song from 1989, in the context of today's world. There is something timeless and beautiful about her message that music can cross the barriers of class, race, and circumstance... however this JJ classic demonstrates a very simple fact--there is no change, progress, growth, without struggle. Perhaps screaming in the streets or on social media comments makes the screamer feel better, but until we start doing the work of working together with mutual respect, we will never see any change. That applies to the spiritual life as much as it applies to our social and political structures. We need to put in the work, #thestruggle, if we want to see progress.
This is the test
No struggle no progress
Lend a hand to help
Your brother do his best
Things are getting worse
We have to make them better
It's time to give a damn
Let's work together come on, yeah
(4) I need to start working out...
Janet Jackson is 51 years old. Her energy, joy, and talent radiated on stage! She danced for almost two hours... and sang... and flipped that gigantic ponytail...
Here's me enjoying a much needed break after 4 minutes of dancing (Rhythm Nation performance 1995).
(3) Can we talk about that hairography?
(2) 90s Music, Choreography, and Costuming is and always will be THE BEST.
What a treat to return to a simpler time. No smartphones required... Her last look (not pictured) was something I may have worn to one of my junior high dances... mock turtlenecks, jeans, and a thick black belt that is so long that you have to wrap it around and tuck it in... And while some of her costume choices were fitted, they were modest and age appropriate! Some of her fellow performers could take a note.
(1) Je choisis tout.
Random concert on a Thursday night performed by one of your childhood favorites? YES, please! After the death of so many celebrities and musicians in 2016, I decided to start saying yes to more concerts--because we just don't know how long we have before these stars burnout or burn themselves out. I bought tickets right away! In a crazy turn of events, the day before the show I was gifted with several Extra Tickets! I called up all my favorite fellow aunties and nieces and we threw together a pop up Girls Night with dinner, drinks, and what was a musical walk down memory lane for me.
My favorite part of the night was looking around the patio of this Mexican restaurant (and amid the 100 or so women clearly having a pre-concert margarita) I saw some my dearest friends laughing together. When one has to throw together a Janet Jackson party overnight, you tend to end up with a unique group of women: the social butterflies that never miss an outing, the procrastinators that don't mind putting off their housework one more night, the commitment-phobes that never would have committed with more notice than 24 hours, the ones that needed some girl time, the ones that mistakenly thought you could meet a guy at a Janet Jackson concert, the drunks, and the ones that accept anything that is free... you end up with a group of women that are not necessarily friends with each other... but will be soon!
The Last Supper before the Janet Jackson Concert
We have a fear sometimes of mixing our friend groups--not letting the Jets & the Sharks of our life enjoy a margarita together. We worry one group will order salt-rimmed glasses, and somehow the other group will see that as a microaggression because they have high blood pressure. We fear awkwardness, but it is in the awkwardness that we can truly connect. When I sent out one of the most fun texts of the year: "Hey! Sooo I have some FREE Janet Jackson tickets for tomorrow night, are you in??" Everyone had the SAME reaction in roughly the same order: (1) checked their mental social calendar, (2) said YES!, (3) thought of 1-2 girlfriends to invite, (4) Texted THE EXACT SENTENCE "What does one wear to a Janet Jackson concert?" [For the majority, the answer was the color black.] and (5) Am I sitting alone?
Choosing everything also means choosing everyone. We have to get over the fear that your people cannot mix with your other people and with their other people. You're not buying a puppy together, you're just getting margaritas. What's the big deal? Even if it ends up awkward... with long silences only interrupted by the crunch of tortilla chips... couldn't you all laugh about how terrible it was together later? We risk NOT blessing people with new friends, relationships, and laughs when we get caught up in our fear of the awkward.
Thanks for all of the life lessons, Janet! Hope to see you again when you're still dancing at 71!