My daughter and I recently attended Muntu Dance’s 35th Anniversary and Gala Celebration at Harris Theater in Millennium Park. The theater was beautiful, very high-end with cushy seats and a relaxed ambience.
But that’s where the good time stopped. It was “colored people time” from there on. My people. My people. My daughter and I arrived at the theater’s will-call a little early at 6:50 p.m. The show was scheduled to start 7 p.m., with an 8:30 p.m. after-gala celebration. Will-call was a mess. Ten minutes before show time, the lines were to the door. We arrived at one will-call, there were no tickets for Debbie Lively; second will-call, no tickets. Finally, I mentioned the public relations person’s name and I was handed two spare tickets.
My daughter asked, “Mommy, what are we doing?”
I asked will-call person, “Will this get me into the after-gala?” He shook his head a reluctant “no.” Muntu’s 35th anniversary celebration was scheduled for food, fun, fireworks and drinks.
My daughter and I went to find our seats. Thank God they were decent seats.
7:02 p.m.: “Colored people time”-only about one-third of the theater was filled and the show was not on. My daughter leaned over and asked, “Mommy when is it going to start?” I looked around the theater. Few seemed disturbed by the tardiness. They looked nice as they thumbed through their program books. Muntu is obviously supported by many middle-class African-Americans, and this night they were dressed in some of their best fabrics with smoothest bling, and they smelled good, too. I think many of them were anticipating the after-gala, just as I had. However, the public relations person neglected to leave me tickets.
7:07 p.m.: Forty-percent of the theater was present. My daughter watched me look at the time on my phone. “Mom, how late are they?” she asked.
Two old friends spotted one another and reached over my daughter and I and gave each other the “fo’ fo'” smooch, the kind that old sorority sisters give. They obviously hadn’t seen each other in awhile. They mentioned grandbabies and how great one another looked, and they smelled good, too.
7:13 p.m.: My daughter and I looked at the phone at the same time, “Geezz,” she said. The audience-goers were starting to stream in now. They were chattering and talking as though they were right on time.
Now I ain’t the earliest person-my husband will attest to that-but tonight I was on time and ready to enjoy the show with my little girl.
7:16 p.m.: People are still standing in the aisle looking for their seats, and the stage is still empty. Soon even the white people start looking around as if to say, “When is this show going to start?”
Finally, 7:18 p.m., the lights dim. It’s showtime.
7:28 p.m.: It’s not showtime. There’s a host of aldermen, congressmen and sponsors to be thanked. The thanking goes on and on; it became its own show. I understand that non-profit organizations like Muntu can’t survive without support and sponsorship. But Muntu didn’t think this out very well. All of this should have been done at the big after-gala. The one they didn’t invite this writer to. I’m sure there, in that room were people who really cared, because sitting there amongst the committee people and corporate sponsors were just regular “Joes” like me and my daughter just trying to see a good show.
Unfortunately we were worn out and hungry and left after the second dance performance.