Watching Beliebers on the streets of Chicago

While walking around in the North Michigan Avenue area yesterday, we came across an interesting scene: one side of the block full of mostly teenage girls looking at the Peninsula Hotel. What were they doing? Waiting to catch sight of Justin Bieber, reported to be inside:

BeliebersChicagoJul0813

We first passed the crowd a little after 4 PM, waited with them for 45 minutes around 7 PM while waiting for pizza at Giordano’s (across the street), and saw them again when leaving the restaurant at 8:15 PM. No Bieber by that point. But, here are a few observations:

1. It was mostly a crowd of teenage and pre-teen girls, as one might suspect, but there were a decent number of families. Indeed, there was a crowd of moms in the back, leaning against the adjacent building (a parking garage) and holding on to food and drinks. In other words, the crowd on the street would not have been possible without a fleet of moms.

2. The crowd engaged in some singing as well as cheers. We drove past them on the way out of the city and they were happily loud.

3. You might think you could look for nice vehicles pulling up to the hotel to get a clue if Bieber was being picked up. Alas, the Peninsula Hotel has lots of nice cars that pull up and use the valet service. Within the 45 minutes we were waiting there, we saw two Tesla sedans, multiple Escalades and Yukons, and a mix of other upper-end car models.

4. The Giordano’s across the street (sitting just behind where the picture was taken) was getting a lot of business from people eating while waiting or just attracted to the scene. Even with it being Monday night, traditionally a slow night at restaurants, the place was full. At the same time, you could drive a block or so away and you would have little idea of what was happening in front of the Peninsula.

5. It was amusing to see the reactions of people passing by who then asked why the people were gathered on the street. The typical response was to smile and laugh, as if to say, “Ah, those crazy teenagers and their pop stars.” But, at least a few of these passer-by then waited for a bit to see if anything would happen.

It takes quite a bit of dedication to stand for hours outside of a hotel just for a glimpse of a star. This scene might be read as an indication of American teenage obsession with entertainers who appeal to them or a reminder that lots of people of cities are interested in a scene on a lovely summer night.

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