Above: A video of the Apollo Theater Michael Jackson tribute dance party in action.
Shortly after, it occurred to me that the Apollo Theater in Harlem HAD to be the most spirited MJ vigil in NYC. Why? The Apollo is where he first performed as a 9-year-old boy with The Jackson 5. It is also where the band won the coveted Apollo Amateur Night award in 1969.
Weikai (my boyfriend) and I decided to check it all out. After a brief visit to Times Square, where we saw an awkwardly still Michael Jackson impersonator, we headed to Harlem. Exiting the subway, we heard MJ music blaring from many passing cars. The two-block walk to Apollo was pretty eventless, but upon arriving we heard music from various sources filling the air, saw a much more graceful and tasteful impersonator, spotted a few news crews (including CNN), witnessed fans signing a piece of cardboard in memory of Jackson, and passed by a few tchotchke-sellers.
Within about 20 minutes, I even saw my supervisor, Soraya, who directed me a few blocks away from the Apollo where hyped-up fans were chanting “Michael, Michael, Michael…”. A few minutes after arriving to the new site of fans, it was broken up by the NYPD who told the fans to go around the corner (out of the street) to a safer place.
By that time, it was nearly 2:30a.m. and Weikai and I were getting sleepy. I left feeling like I had witnessed a part of history — a moment in time that many will remember for years to come.