(This story was submitted to Dance and Rave as part of our first giveaway.)
Every year, people get the chance to see the one act or DJ that they’ve been waiting to see for what seems like an eternity. For myself, and a handful of others, that person last year was Armin van Buuren. It was April 19th, 2014. Armin was bringing his “Armin Only: Intense” tour to Toronto. 6 hours of nothing but the king of trance himself. I drove up with my friends Ashley and Brynn, whilst also meeting our friends Alexia and Kristin while we were there. This was already a special day, due to the fact that it was Ashley’s birthday, so we wanted to make the best of it. We made the trek up to Toronto earlier in the day so we could check into our hotel, get some food and relax a bit before the journey we were about to partake. Everyone gets ready and we all head out on our way to the venue, Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Already, the line was wrapped around the block with thousands of fans chanting the name that we all wanted to see most. As we enter the venue, all you could see is a sea of people, dressed in the most ludicrous outfits (myself included), sporting all the Kandi one could think of, and excited as one could possibly be for this event. We hand our tickets to security, take the escalator upstairs, and can’t believe our eyes. This insanely massive room that has just started filling up, with a huge stage that everyone is crowded around.
As we proceed to the bar to grab a couple of drinks, we run into our friends and we stick together and chat it up for a bit before the actual show begins. Finally the lights dim, and the curtain drops…but what we saw, we weren’t expecting. A giant, orb shaped object, with what is clearly Armin behind it, playing some truly melodic, soothing trance music…but it’s just a shadow, not what everyone was expecting. An hour passes by and he finally reveals himself. The crowd, explodes with excitement, as the first track he plays is “Dark Warrior” by Andrew Rayel (my personal favorite track at the time).
The lights, the visuals, the aura…was absolutely INTENSE. Literally no other way to describe it. I wanted to stay in the back and enjoy the show with everyone, but Ashley and Brynn had a different idea, so I followed, as they started pushing their way to the front. After 15-20 minutes of several apologies, annoyed fans, and multiple feet stepped on, we get there. Literally at the gates, could not get any closer. 20 feet away from the king himself, and it was honestly mind-blowing. Throughout the night he had performers like Trevor Guthrie, Richard Bedford and Emma Hewitt come out and sing their tracks with him..truly a blessing for all of us.
What came next, I never would’ve imagined.
This gentleman strolled up behind me, and tapped me on the side. I was expecting an apology for bumping into me, which I did get, but it was from a man in a wheelchair. I personally do not know what he was diagnosed with, but he had trouble moving on his own, and periodically asked for my help throughout the night. I took a handful of pictures for him, made space around everyone so he could get a clear view of the entire show as well. In return, he thanked me many, many times and you could see the sincerity in his eyes of how happy he was that someone was showing him support. Towards the end of the event, Armin played his single Ping Pong, and released thousands of blow up yellow balls, with faces on it. Everyone was kicking and tossing them around, it truly was a party. I ended up catching one of them and handing it to my new accomplice next to me, he began to tear up and continually thanking me once again.
Next, all the performers started coming down on the floor saying Hello to the fans and taking pictures with them. I took his phone for him and got many, many pictures of everything that was happening at the time. Finally, Trevor Guthrie, best known for his vocals on “This Is What It Feels Like”, came over to us. We got to shake his hand, and take pictures with him. I reached out to get his attention and made him aware of the man I was helping out all night. He reached over the guard rail, shook the guys hand, and signed the giant yellow inflatable ball that I had secured for him, and just like that, he was gone. I look over at the guy after Trevor walks away, and his head is in his hands, and all he is doing is crying. He looks up at me, with tears in his eyes, rolling down his face and thanks me. At this point, I was also tearing up, and I could do nothing but hug him and say “You truly inspired me to have a good time tonight. Seeing you this happy, for this long, was an experience in itself.” I left the show that night not only thinking how truly amazing that show was, but also how I turned one guys average night, into truly one of the most amazing experiences he has ever had.
~ James Stauffiger