Sleepless and with no contact with Rihanna in several days, the plane got mutinous. First came the hashtags on twitter, like #PrayForTheRihannaPlane. Then came the changed song lyrics ("Where have you been all night? / Are you hiding from us?")
Then … the getting naked and running up and down the aisles. I wish I were kidding. This is Australian DJ Tim Dormer doing exactly that:
For those of you who don't understand why being on a plane with Rihanna for five days might not be so bad:
1) Okay, you have a point. We're very lucky to be here and to have jobs to do. Just being employed and invited to hear music and eat free sandwiches for a week is a privilege, and I think most of the fans and journalists aboard felt that way for the first part of the trip.
2) That being said … Picture the last time you were delayed at an airport for several hours. Now picture that happening several times in one day, with no ability to make calls, text, or use the internet. Sometimes you aren't sure of the next time you'll be able to use a bathroom, get water, or eat. Now picture that happening for five days in a row, all while you're supposed to be doing your job remotely. Now picture that, with a steady soundtrack of European house music.
3) Also picture that Rihanna is supposed to be on your plane, and she is barely present until she shows up on stage, hours late.
I certainly have newfound respect for touring musicians. Just traveling around that much and eating that much plastic-wrapped stuff gets grueling faster than you'd think. And as much as I appreciate being invited on this tour, it was (ahem!) not the most well-organized endeavor. Rihanna herself has been hidden away for the bulk of the trip. And we don't really know why—tours are big, complicated undertakings even when they're not squeezing seven shows into seven days—but every show starts late, sometimes by as much as two hours or more. This has not only resulted in fans in the cities we visit waiting a ridiculously long time for Rihanna to go onstage (which makes them understandably restless and pissy) but for the nearly 200 people with her on the plane frequently being trapped in small spaces, deprived of access to sleep, water, food and showers. It sucks for the people there to cover her tour, but even more for the people who won contests to have a special trip with Rihanna and ended up in some kind of scary plane prison.
True, there have been a lot of great perks (room and board, free champagne, and when they actually happen, some great performances by Rihanna). But the wheels officially came off today—the general disorganization of the travel arrangements and the problem of Rihanna going on two hours late led to us having no sleep between the three concerts in France, England and Germany.
I don't know if you've ever traveled to three countries in less than two days without time to sleep, but it is not great for the spirit.
The flight from Berlin to London was utter hysteria. Fans screamed for "RiRi" as though doing so would bring her out of whatever hidey-hole she was sequestered in on the plane (after a listless performance where she sported a marijuana t-shirt). The press chanted "Give us a quote!" and deliberately sabotaged the crew filming her for some kind of DVD.
The wonderful, fantastic flight crew attempted to normalize our blood sugar by bringing us some odd, microwaved hoagie type things, but it was to no avail. The plane took on a weird smell, like hot processed cheese and fear. Finally, an Australian journalist named Tim stripped totally naked and ran up and down the aisles. In London, someone apparently passed out in customs around 5 or 6AM, and following a bizarrely long bus ride from the airport, we swayed blearily in line for hotel rooms, sleepless since Paris or longer.
I'm now in my room in London. We are cordially invited to watch Rihanna switch on Christmas lights today at a mall in Stratford in a few hours. Most of us have declined ... we should probably bathe.
Last time … fear and loathing starts to set in!