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‘He could feel the floor bouncing beneath his feet’

02/13/2014

It was going to be one of the best birthday and Valentine’s Day presents ever. I had tickets to see Panic! at the Disco on February 7 at the Tabernacle in Atlanta.

The Tabernacle was converted from an old church. Murals marked every inch of the walls. Pipes from a pipe organ still adorned the back of the stage. A huge glass chandelier hung from the ceiling.

“I wonder what would happen if it caught fire and started swinging toward us, like in The Phantom of the Opera,” I heard someone say next to me. I thought it was funny at the time, and it still is. But after what really happened at the Tabernacle that night, their thoughts seem to ring more true.

When Panic came on, the familiar whoosh of the crowd surged closer to the stage. The lights went crazy and the screams from teenage girls pierced our eardrums.

I was ready for the music to start and to hear front-man Brendon Urie’s actual voice for the third time in my life.

The music was loud and rumbled through all of our bodies and the crowd began to jump. I jumped along with them. The energy was something you could feel running through the crowd as Urie sang to our souls. There was no stopping us from enjoying this incredible moment.

I remember my boyfriend telling me later that night that he could feel the floor bouncing beneath his feet as the rest of us jumped to the beat of the music. It was an intense moment for all of us—so intense that none of us knew the real trouble that was going on.

In the middle of the second song, security personnel started forcing the crowd back. We thought people in front were packed in too tight from the crowd behind.

Even as the security personnel moved away, everyone kept surging back to the front.

I’ll never forget seeing one of them walk on stage in the middle of the performance. The music stopped.

“You guys, we rocked this place so hard that you broke the [expletive] floor!” Brendon Urie said. His performance skills are so good that it sounded like a planned part of the show. The crowd screamed in delight in response. But the security guy said something else to Urie, and he looked out at us again.

“Wow, you guys really broke the [expletive] floor.”

We were all forced to exit the back of the main floor and ended up strewn across the street. Hundreds of people clad in concert attire littered the sidewalks, the street, and the steps outside. We even blocked traffic. Ordinary citizens stepped up to direct everyone to stay off the street. My favorite line that I heard from one of them was, “Stay on the sidewalk side!”

I still haven’t figured that one out.

The crowd was pretty calm around us, although I did hear a teenage girl sobbing to her mother on the phone next to me.

“Mom, I can’t talk right now, I can’t handle this right now!”

And then came the verdict: The old, wooden floor of the historic Tabernacle was cracked and broken by energetic Panic! at the Disco fans.

We will forever live in infamy at the Tabernacle, and I’m sure we all hope in the minds of the band members as well.

We rocked so hard that we broke the Tabernacle.

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