An email arrived from Danielle this week
It’s 1988. I’m 13 years old. Like a lot of kids who lived in the GTA at that time, my introduction to concerts was at Canada’s Wonderland. My wonderful mother had purchased 2 sets of tickets for David Lee Roth: her and I at 4th-row centre, and my older brother with his girlfriend, sitting apart from us in the crowd. We didn’t realize at the time of purchase, but our 4th-row seats were actually front row thanks to a triangle-shaped addition to the stage that extended into the audience. The point of the triangle ended where I sat (slightly to my left).
The woman beside me (a serious fan who, I’d soon learn, saw him perform across North America whenever she could), struck up a conversation with me. She was friendly, regaling this kid she just met with stories of previous concerts. And she was genuinely excited for me as I was about to see my first David Lee Roth concert from the best seat in the house. And it was fantastic.
During the encore, Roth walks along the front of the stage as the band continues to play “Jump”. He’s quickly shaking hands with everyone. I can’t believe my luck as he approaches from my right. I’m going to shake his hand. I am going to shake his hand! Please keep shaking hands until you get to me.
And he does.
Then everything in the world slowed down. He’d taken half a step away, his grip loosening on mine as he paused, then turned back towards me directly and leaned closer.
Understand, I am a shy, somewhat introverted girl. I never would have chatted with the woman beside me if she hadn’t initiated conversation. And for that, I mainly listened. Anyone else would’ve been revelling in this extended moment with the man on the cover of an album that got constant play in her bedroom. I, on the other hand (having just expended all my confidence to extend my arm for a brief handshake), was alternating between dreamlike surrealism and the slow cold-crawling sensation of self-conscious dread. Not only hadn’t he released my hand, but he spoke. He wasn’t supposed to speak. I was not mentally prepared for speaking.
Again, everyone else would’ve screamed yes and clamoured upwards. I, smiling sheepishly, slowly shrugged (secretly trying to fold into myself until I blinked out of existence). I hadn’t even fully comprehended what was being suggested before dozens of hands were lifting me up onto the stage (adding to the floating sensation of what clearly must be a delusion in the form of an out of body experience).
I remember the roar of the crowd as he walked me onto (I think) a low raised platform on stage.That part is a bit foggy as I preoccupied, chanting repeatedly in my head “Don’t freeze. Be cool.” on a loop. Between the stage lights and the cavalcade of camera flashes, I mercifully could not discern the sea of screaming fans beyond a writhing black mass of shadow.
I think we danced briefly? I honestly can’t recall. I do remember when he leaned down to me and said “Are you ready?”. Ready? Ready for…are we jumping? I think we’re jumping. Please god let him mean we’re jumping because if I jump off the platform and he doesn’t, they can sweep me up with the rest of the empty, crumpled vessels from the concession stand left behind on the venue floor.
Hand in hand, on cue from the song, we jumped off the platform. And he escorted me back to my seat where I expect I floated back into my awaiting mortal self below.
My brother would later tell me as the crowds dispersed that people were discussing how my appearance on stage must’ve been practiced and pre-arranged because it looked staged. “Nope”, he corrected them, half-begrudgingly. “I know, because that was my sister”. Listen, if it HAD been staged, I would not have had my hair in a messy ponytail, nor chosen the oversized pink-and-grey striped long shorts selected for comfort over fashion. I definitely wouldn’t have been wearing a (I think) Canada’s Wonderland t-shirt with the Flintstones on it (purchased after getting soaked on White Water Canyon). I was a smaller-than-average 13 year old who people assumed was the younger sister to all my friends the same age. I would have desperately tried to look at least 12 if I had known. Lip gloss maybe.
The woman who sat beside me during the concert had a camera with her. She cautioned that she’d taken a photo of me on stage, but hadn’t realized it was the end of the film roll. Had she used up the last picture beforehand? She could’t be sure if she captured the moment or not, but exchanged phone numbers with us and generously offered to give me copies if she had it. She hoped so, because she’d never seen him pull anyone onto the stage before.
Turned out, the film roll had finished before my big moment. But we drove out to her place a week later and she gifted me 7 other photographs from that night.
The internet wouldn’t be a thing for a long time to come, so I never was able to get a copy captured by all those flashing cameras in the dark. Over the years, YouTube has offered up live bootleg footage of his April performance months earlier at Maple Leaf Gardens, but I have never found a single frame of evidence from that night.
So here’s the ask: Do you or someone you know have photographic evidence of 13-year-old Danielle’s DLR encounter?