NEW YORK — When imagining the best seat in the house for the 2009 VMAs, you might picture being nestled somewhere in the first five rows, maybe in between [artist id="1236911"]Beyoncé[/artist] and [artist id="1962774"]Katy Perry[/artist]. But this year, the best seat in the house was right in the middle of the madness: in the sweaty, fan-filled pit, which felt more like a VIP section.
After we were led to our spots, the show began with Madonna's heartfelt tribute to Michael Jackson. Then, a group of dancers, adorned in sequins and fedoras, kicked off the show, creeping up from the pit and emerging onto the stage in a plume of dry ice. After a medley of Michael Jackson songs accompanied by their respective videos on the enormous LCD screen behind the stage, the dancers were joined by Janet Jackson, who emerged from underneath the stage like a leather-clad goddess. "I can't believe how close she is," one fan whispered to another as Janet shot down the runway, launching into "Scream," her and Michael's collaboration from the '90s. The fans in the pit swooned, still not believing they were so close to the action.
We'd been told that Lady Gaga's performance would be "insane," and that warning only added to the excitement. Danny Alvarado of Hartford, Connecticut, was anticipating Gaga all evening, and she did not disappoint. "She was amazing. I'm speechless," he said, clutching a pearl that came loose from her white-corseted ensemble. In fact, it was almost impossible to find a fan that was less than impressed Gaga's set. "She is so unique. Just amazing. She reminded me of Madonna," said Mari Piccirillo from New York's Staten Island.
Green Day brought the rock to the VMAs this year, with a hard-hitting performance filled with pyrotechnics and a salute to their fans, as they ended their set by demanding that everyone join them. Michael Piccirillo, also from Staten Island, was thrilled to join one of his favorite bands on the VMA stage. "Being up there with Green Day was the best feeling ever!" he raved. "They interact with everyone."
Of course, Jay-Z and Alicia Keys closed out the show with tremendous energy, paying homage to New York with an electrifying performance of "Empire State of Mind." "Alicia was gorgeous and Jay Z held it down as always," said Jenica Vaid from New Jersey.
By the end of the night, fans were hot, achy and dehydrated. Rachel Agosto, also of Hartford, said she had waited seven hours just to get in the doors of Radio City. She was complaining of a headache and was having trouble standing by the end of the show.
But when asked if she'd rather have been in a comfortable seat in the audience, she answered without hesitation: "No way — this was the best!"
The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards might have wrapped, but the party is far from over. Stay tuned for behind-the-scenes updates, party reports and much more.