It was the summer of 2006. I was at an outdoor music festival with my friend Julie and we were full of adrenaline, alcohol and nicotine (yes, I was once a smoker). We danced our way through sets from Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs, Kasabian, Thievery Corporation and Brazilian Girls. Only two bands remained- Scissor Sisters and The Flaming Lips. Our legs were tired and we decided to relax for awhile on the grass so we’d have a good spot for the next act. People were scattered about, laughing and drinking. The weather was perfect and the sun was beginning to set.
A friendly, scruffy looking guy approached us and asked “Hey, do you guys like The Flaming Lips?” Julie was chatting on her phone so I responded for both of us, “We do; this will be our first time seeing them live. Can’t wait!”
“Would you like to dance on stage during their set in santa costumes? We’re bringing fans on stage and we need two more people.”
I stared at him for a moment trying to figure out whether this was a joke. He had bypassed everyone else sitting around and walked straight over to us. Was he serious? There was a lanky, long-haired dude standing near us, listening to the conversation with his mouth hanging open. I’m guessing I probably had a similar expression on my face. Julie was still on her phone and had no idea what was happening. “Of course we’re interested. We’ll do it. JULIE GET OFF THE PHONE!” The long-haired dude asked if there were any other spots because they were his favorite band. “Sorry,” said the friendly, scruffy looking guy, “these are the last two spots.” He wrote down our names and told us to come behind the stage when the Scissors Sisters set started. “We’re doing what?” Julie asked.
We walked backstage and were immediately overwhelmed as we saw members of the various bands we had been watching throughout the day. We were escorted into a small room on the side of the stage where we were handed the smelliest santa costumes in the universe. After a day of dancing in the sun we probably didn’t smell like roses, either. We watched the Scissor Sisters set from behind the stage, which was pretty damn cool. More and more people began appearing around us in assorted weird costumes. I remember aliens and skeletons.
“Santas, over here!” There were around 8-10 of us. We were handed large flashlights and given brief choreography instructions which basically consisted of what to do with the lights during different songs. Not a problem. Then I heard the audience scream as The Flaming Lips were introduced and we were directed onto the stage. I found myself right up front. I stared out into the crowd. It was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I was supposed to be in the audience. Yet I was on stage with the band DRESSED AS SANTA.
A lot of the set was a blur for me. I danced. I marveled at how close I was to Wayne Coyne, the lead singer. I looked out at the audience and saw the long-haired dude in the front row with a vacant, sad look in his eye as he watched us dance, knowing he had been so close to dancing with his favorite band. I grew teary eyed when the band played my favorite song. Since I was at the front of the stage facing the audience, I didn’t know what was going on behind me but every time I glanced back there were more costumed characters dancing on stage. It was unreal. And then suddenly it was over. As we were about to turn in our costumes, Julie grabbed Wayne for a hug. He had a ‘please get off me, you are wearing the gross santa suit’ look on his face but I didn’t care. It was my moment and I took a hug as well.
As we walking off stage we were handed special t-shirts that you only get if you dance on stage with The Flaming Lips. You know, just in case anyone didn’t believe us.
It was one of those weird moments in life that happens when you’re not expecting it. But you never forget it. And for the record, this story has nothing to do with grapefruit pie. Which you should definitely make.
- 1 9-inch blind baked pie crust (either store bought or your favorite recipe)
- 1 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
- 1¼ cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the pie crust on a baking sheet.
- Whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, grapefruit juice and eggs.
- Pour the custard into the pie shell. (Leave at least ½ inch around the top).
- Carefully place the baking sheet with the pie in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. It will still be wobbly but should look slightly firmer.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set the custard. Serve chilled or slightly above room temperature.