Taio Cruz’s rousing hit “Dynamite” played on loudspeakers as I joined the queue last week outside the cavernous Reliant Arena in Houston. Families, young professionals, and hordes of teenage girls swayed to the rhythm as lines grew longer and longer, far past the parking lot port-o-potties. Ushers hastily scanned so many electronic tickets that together their hand-held devices made one long, sustained electronic beep.
I rushed the souvenir stand with everyone else, and then hit the men’s room to change into my new $35 all-cotton T-shirt. Resisting the $25 color program booklet as well as the frozen tropical drinks at the Maui Wowie Tiki-stand, I settled for an $8 hot-dog-and-cola combo before making my way to a seat slightly above stage left. “Perfect viewing,” I thought as I enjoyed the promotional videos. This wasn’t a high-profile rock concert, however, it was a dance performance. I made calculations in my head: parking, food, souvenir, and the ticket totaled $119, an amount I hadn’t paid for a dance event since I saw The Royal Ballet years ago at London’s posh Covent Garden.