Buying Tickets For Bob Dylan
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 18:16:43 GMT
From: SadieJane (sadiejane@FOLLY.ORG)
Subject: SADIEJANE SPENDS THE NIGHT W/ A SCALPER (long)
.. and (he just barely) survives...
I thought that I would share my most recent stories of how I acquired
tickets for the 96 New England tour. We don't have an EDLIS agent
specifically covering this topic. We know (thanks to Ray and Bill) where
and when they go on sale but not helpful hints for ticket purchasing.
The "How do I get the best tickets I can get" EDLIS AGENT
This is a complex, multi-dimensional problem which deserves some
attention on the newsgroup and I encourage all of you who have victorious
stories of ticket acquisition as well as depressing and hopeless stories,
to post up as well....
NEW HAVEN, MARCH 23
The challenge that this weekend posed was in three shows all going on
sale at the same time.
New Haven (4/14) and Portland, ME (4/20 and 4/21) were going on sale at
10:00 a.m. on Saturday March 23, and the Providence (4/18) show was going
on sale just an hour later at 11:00 a.m. So, how to get the best seats?
My experience has led me to believe that the best shot is *always* at
the box office of the theater in question NOT through TM (TicketMaster).
I have friends who have gotten pretty good seats at TM outlets - but
never heard of people scoring really great seats via the phone. I don't
really understand why - box offices, TM outlets and phone sales all
access the same computers as far as I can tell....I think it has to do
with being the very first to order tickets. If you're calling from a
phone then there is no way to guarantee that you will be first. If you
are in line, you know where you are (and you usually can get an idea of
who you're dealing with too). I also feel that by buying at the box
office you gain the HOME COURT advantage as it were. The sales person
knows the seating chart, has a sort of Zen feel for the space, and can
somehow punch in the right numbers faster than those (fairly ignorant) TM
To solve the basic problem of: can't be in 3 places at once:
I sent one friend to Portland, ME
I went myself to New Haven
And had a third friend get in line at a TM outlet in Boston (Providence
show is general admission - no need to be first in line or at the venue)
My man in Portland arrived there at 3:00 a.m. and was 68th in line!!!!!
Needless to say he has his own stories to tell of that night. It was
apparently quite a party of mostly locals who were in fact cueing up to
get the general admission seats NOT the reserved $100 dollar premium
seats. When he finally got up to the box office he ordered general
admission for me and then was able to get 2nd row center seats for
himself at the Sunday show. He went home happy, though considerably
lighter of pocket.
I left Boston at 2:30 and pulled up into a quiet parking garage opposite
the Palace theater in New Haven by 5:15 a.m. There appeared to be one
lone camper sleeping prone in a sleeping bag. Which would make me 2nd in
line, pretty good!
WRONG. As I approached he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper - a sign
up for place in line. This is something I had *never* encountered before
- but was game - he was first in line, so this was *his* show. He told
me that there were three other guys who had been there with him from
about 1:00 a.m. on to 4:00 a.m. They had taken off for a walk but would
be back. PANIC! This put me fifth in line. I noticed the box office
had two windows, which would actually put me third in line give or take.
So I signed my name and sat down on my little cushion (a duffel bag
packed tightly with a down pillow).
We talked briefly about the weather (cold with snow flurries) and about
the local environs (diner with bathrooms would be opening soon around the
corner) - established a rapport and then waited for *them* to come.....I
learned that he had taken a bus from another part of CT and had arrived
at the Palace theater at 11:30 p.m. the previous evening. His friends,
for whom he was buying tickets, would be picking him up at 10:00 a.m.
This was devotion, I thought, the guy has been here ALL NIGHT LONG and
alone. I was impressed.
*They* started arriving about an hour later and each signed up as I had.
We started sharing stories about shows - I passed my walkman, playing
the Laguna Seca show, around and told them all my pick story (everyone is
generally very nice about letting me tell that story over and over). I
was (as usual) the only female in the group until about 7:00 a.m. There
are always a few guys who take me under their wing, walk with me to the
local diner so I can pee and glare suspiciously at sinister passersby.
At 5:30 a.m. in an alley in Boston (The Orpheum) or on a deserted street
in New Haven, I am always grateful for the extra attention.
So...part of the bonding ritual of people in line for tickets is for
everyone to find out how everyone else is going to deal with ticket
purchase. How many and with cash or plastic. This is very important
information. If you know the guy in front is buying 8 and the guy after
him is buying 4 and the gal after him is buying 3 than you have an idea
of what is left for you. Everyone knows that cash is faster than
plastic. And given the fact that there are hundreds of TM computer phone
salespeople punching in orders at the strike of 10:00 a.m., the faster
you can get to the window, the better.
Lesson No. 1: Pay in Cash if you can as a courtesy to others
7:00 a.m. It is finally really light out and those of us who have been
holding in our pee and shivering for a few hours are beginning to perk up
with that first trip to the diner and first cups of hot coffee. Sugar
donuts always help too. Three Average Joe kinda guys (the ones that were
looking after me) bought everyone coffee and donuts. They were a tag
team and counted as only one place in line (5th or so). Though there were
three of them there, they were only buying 4 tickets.
Lesson No. 2: Don't try to buy tickets for all your friends. The bigger
your order, the farther back the seats. In the end everyone is
disappointed, including the guy directly behind you in line who has been
waiting with you all night long.
which leads to Lesson No. 3: IT IS NOT COOL to agree to buy seats for
people farther back in line. If you are close to the front you will find
it common for people to approach you with small talk about the last Dylan
tour, and then ask you if you are buying up to the limit. If you are not
they will beg and plead with you to buy them their seats. All while the
guy behind you in line looks on with an anguished expression. It is OK
to buy for a few friends (within reason) but not to start taking orders
from people behind you. AND ideally, if you are buying more than 4 or so
tickets I think it is nice to have two of you there. This may seem
rather priggish and fussy to some of you - but this is how I do things
At 7:15 I called a pow wow "can we please gather together - there is an
important decision to be made" I suddenly had the attention of about 20
guys. They nominated me the official Line Organizer. "There are three
guys who have signed this list but have been gone since 4:00 a.m. I say
they go off the list" I had decided to take matters into my own hands:
because the guy who was first in line didn't seem to care (after all, he
was first); because it didn't seem fair to all these nice people *behind*
me to have to be so far back in line; *and* because it would make me 2nd
in line (and with 2 box office windows, actually would put in at a window
first). "What do you say?" I asked my compatriots.
Unanimous agreement. The three names were scratched from the list. The
guy who was first (and who was buying 8 tickets, the max. limit) shrugged
his shoulders. After all, he was first in line.
9:00 a.m. the friends of Mr. First In Line who are to give him a ride
home show up in a car, three guys all in jeans and wind breakers. He
went up and spoke to them on the street, then came back to his place in
line. I wondered why they didn't park the car and join him. They drove
off to parts unknown.
Between 9 and 10 is the worse time. You've run out of stories, tales of
picks and harps and encores, and you are beginning to worry about what
seats you're going to get. You start to count your money - take it out
from its hiding place anyway (usually a shoe or inside coat pocket) and
give it some air. You go to the bathroom at the diner about 3 times in
that hour. You jump around to get some circulation into your frozen
feet. You try to stand in the pockets of sunlight that appear on the
sidewalk. By this time the line is moving down the street and some guy
drives up and parks with his car stereo blasting some Far East '94 show.
By 9:30 I have taken the names of two others in line with the promise
that they will receive a copy of my Laguna Seca board when they see me at
By 9:45 there is still no one in the building. I am beginning to get a
knot in my stomach and have to unbutton my coat because I am feeling
suddenly warm. We all review how many tickets each of us is getting and
by what method of payment. I say things like "If I get anything in the
first 5 rows I will be satisfied" but I know this is not true. I want
front row center. And I am second in line, perhaps first up at a window.
I *deserve* front row center.
9:50 a blond woman enters the box office from the inside of the theater.
I watch as she turns on the lights and turns on her computer. Relief.
Then she opens the theater doors and we form a line inside. No sign of
another window opening. One of the Three Joes joins Mr. First In Line,
says he just wants to see how it works - being first in line, that is.
Get some tips for when his turn comes up. We start asking the box office
clerk questions since we have some time, about 5 more minutes.
"What is the limit?"
There is no limit. She says. None for cash sales anyway. I'm pretty
surprised, never heard of this before. Usually there is a maximum 8
ticket limit or 6 per show if there is more than one night in the run.
Suddenly, Mr. First in Line tells her he is going to want 16 tickets.
And he pulls out a wad of bills. Joe winks at me. "This guy is
obviously a professional" he says with a smile, as though he had known
"WHAT?" I cry out. "Are you a scalper" My voice becoming shrill, almost
Mr. First In Line shrugs his shoulders, doesn't give me a straight
"You can't buy 16 tickets!" I shout at his back. "That's not fair! There
won't be anything left! "
I hear a voice from back in the line - one of the guys I had promised a
tape to. "Is everything all right up there? What's going on?"
"THIS GUY IS A SCALPER AND HE'S BUYING 16 TICKETS!!!!" I SHOUT AT THE TOP
OF MY LUNGS.
The crowd behind me, all packed in a snake in the small lobby start to
get even more anxious and I hear shouts of support "Stop the scalper!"
and "Judas!" rising from behind me.
SUDDENLY at 9:59 the other window opens up and there is a man there,
booting up his computer, typing in those mysterious code words that give
him access to the network. I jump over to the second window, along with
half of the restless snake of protesters behind me.
"Listen" I try *not* to shout at the poor guy "This guy over at the other
window is a scalper and he's buying 16 tickets!" I feel like there is
suddenly a golf ball in my throat and my eyes begin to sting "See what
you can do for me - I only want 4!!!"
He looks up at me and at the scalper and then it's 10:00 a.m. and he
starts typing in numbers furiously. He hands me my tickets and I throw
my cash at him. He tosses back some change and I quickly get OUT OF THE
I look down at my tickets. Row B. well, it's not row A. But its the
next best thing. Seats are 24 to 30...hmmmmm
The guy right after me in line, by this time has his tickets too. He is
also in Row B. He says my seats are DEAD CENTER.
"COOL!!!" I am relieved and excited. The long wait in the cold paid
Then I see the scalper. What did you get? "Row L" he says. I figure it
must be because he asked for soooo many seats. "I guess I'll see you and
your 16 friends on the 14th then, won't I?" I snarl at him. He shrugs
and walks outside. That's when I realize that his friends were probably
the three guys in line ahead of me - that when they returned at 9:00 a.m.
he went to the car and told them that their spot was no longer saved and
that they better beat it to the nearest TM outlet. I also realized that
while he talked to me about what a drag it was to be out in the cold, he
never once recounted any tales of seeing other Dylan shows. Now it was
all becoming clear. I felt betrayed, filled with disgust and horror. I
shared the same cold ground and merciless glass door with this man. I
trusted him. I saved his spot for him in line while he went to the diner
for a pee and a cup of joe. Never again would I be so gullible. Next
time, I would be more wary.
SPRINGFIELD MARCH 30th
A week later I found myself at 1:30 a.m. sitting huddled in a blanket in
front of the Springfield Civic Center box office (the sales agent for the
Symphony Hall). Just me, my roommates cellular phone, a few drunks
wandering around on foot, a large flock of crows and an occasional
newspaper truck and police cruiser. I was determined to be first this
time. I was first. The Dylan (and as it turned out Tori Amos) fans
didn't start arriving till about 5:30 a.m. and boy, was I relieved to see
them walking up the steps to my stake out. Unfortunately I had not
called the box office ahead to get the lay of the land, otherwise I would
have learned that they have five box office windows which all open at the
same time. Which meant, me and the next four people all had number one
spots. There was really no need for me to have come so early. You live
and you learn. I got second row center again. The guy at the next
window, who had come at 5:30 a.m. got the front row seats. Still, I was
happy. The girl in line behind me asked for a single and got a 15th row
seat. She was just about ready to kill someone, either the box office
agent or the guy in line behind her that got front row, right side seats
after asking for 4. She had driven from Schenectady (sp?), NY and had
been waiting in line since about 6:00 a.m.
Lesson No. 4: Don't by singles. The computer apparently looks for one
lone seat and there is no telling where it might turn up. Asking for
pairs is safer.
In Springfield I saw a few familiar faces, Ned who was wearing the same
Highway 61 cap in New Haven and Pete who, as it turns out was the man
directly in front of me after I rushed the stage at Harborlights last
June. He was the one who had caught the harp that Bob threw down. He
was very excited that I remembered and he retold the story to the other s
gathered round in the early cold. I told my pick story for the umpteenth
(how many times is umpteen?) time. And Miriam, from Schenectady, and I
discussed what we would wear to the show. There were a bunch of people
there to buy tickets for an upcoming Springfield Tori Amos show - and we
made a game out of guessing whether approaching people were for Dylan or
Amos. I found it all rather ironic given the most recent thread on Dylan
regarding Tori s (apparent) low opinion of Dylan s musicianship. The
Dylan fans outnumbered the Amos fans at least 4 to 1. But then again,
Amos had apparently sold out Boston in 20 minutes. So though they were
fewer in number, they were indeed more anxious is demeanor.
If anyone knows of any good local bars in New Haven, Springfield,
Providence and Portland, please email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is the EDLIS agent in charge of gatherings!
See ya there!
Delia ain't dead, she's out buyin' Dylan tickets