For me, as I'm sure is the case for many millennial women, Beyonce is a seminal part of my life.
From desperately trying to learn the dance routine to Lose My Breath in my bedroom aged 14 to sobbing my way through my first heartbreak while playing Best Thing I Never Had on repeat, her music has been the soundtrack through many of life’s ups and the downs, and everything in between.
When I missed out on tickets to her UK tour, I flew overseas to watch her for the first time. When I learnt she was headlining a festival six hours from my home, I hopped on a coach and camped in a muddy field for four days just to catch a glimpse of her on the horizon.
So imagine when, after a four-year hiatus, I learnt that not only would she be performing a private show 10 minutes from my house, but that I was lucky enough to be able to go.
Naturally, a whole range of feelings ensued. Here are the five stages of emotion for a Beyonce super-fan watching her private Dubai show.
Stage 1: gut-wrenching excitement
It’s not often I get that butterflies-in-the-stomach kind of excitement these days, but for Beyonce, they fluttered. Pulling up to the hotel on Friday, I had my face pressed against the window like a small child, despite the fact I’ve seen the hotel dominating the Palm Jumeirah skyline for years. All weekend, I was verging on jittery, and the hour-long wait in our designated spots before she came on stage was one of the longest of my life.
Stage 2: sheer disbelief
I didn’t think anything would top the disbelief I felt when Jay-Zhappened to be casually sitting across from us at the hotel’s pool bar on Friday afternoon (my friend told me to "be cool", spoiler: I was not), but when I saw how close we were to the stage for the show, I really had to pinch myself. When she finally appeared, I think I entered an initial state of shock at just how close she was ― a few more metres and it was practically smelling distance.
Stage 3: emotions, taking me over
Then came the tears. To be fair, she started with the ballads, and when she performed Flaws and All for the first time in more than 10 years ― a favourite from my teenage years ― I couldn’t stop the tears. I don’t know whether it was the nostalgia, the sensory overload, or just how lucky I felt in that moment, but in the words of Destiny’s Child, there were emotions, taking me over.
Stage 4: pure elation
The tears soon dried when the familiar horns of Crazy in Love started and everyone around us broke into the famous dance. For the last 10 minutes of the show, which was filled with hits like Countdown, Drunk in Love and Naughty Girl, there was nothing but sheer elation surrounding us. And when she hit the grand finale, where she was lifted into the air on a platform as Atlantis The Royal set off one of the most spectacular fireworks displays I’ve ever seen (which is saying something in Dubai), it truly felt like the night of our lives.
Stage 5: awe
Once the glitter had settled and the fireworks had ceased, my friend and I looked at each other with the same look of awe on our faces, and continued to exchange that same glance for the next hour while we processed the evening we had just experienced. Audience members were asked not to film or take photos at the concert, and despite an initial pang of disappointment (and outcry from my friends at home who were hoping for live updates), being present for every moment only made the evening all the more special rather than holding my phone in the air, waiting to capture the chorus of my favourite song. But will I still remember every single second? Absolutely.