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When Prince Says No Photos Allowed, Prince Means NO PHOTOS ALLOWED

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 1, 2013 3:20PM

Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
Prince was in Chicago to play George Lucas' wedding reception Saturday so the city was abuzz with speculation on a possible surprise set somewhere else in town. Sure enough, late in the afternoon City Winery announced he would be playing a late night set. Tickets ranged between $75 and $250 and sold out almost instantly. I arrived at the venue to find a line stretched down the block as people waited for the doors to open at 11:30 p.m. As that time came and went I began to wonder just what kind of Prince show to expect. Would it be a let down along the lines of his first performance at the United Center or botched House Of Blues performance late last year?

Shortly before 1 a.m. the doors opened and the crowd flooded in. As the room filled, the lights dimmed and His Purple Majesty bounded onto the stage. The room felt electric and I immediately realized I need not have doubted the mood of Prince—this was going to be a good show. As he launched into "Little Red Corvette" the room was all dancing and the long wait outside was a distant memory that was well worth it for this payoff. The stage at City Winery is low, and Prince is famously diminutive, so as he kept running to the front of the stage, he often appeared to be almost disappearing into the audience. This was the definition of an intimate show. So how could I resist trying to snap a picture or two to document it?

There were signs all over the room prohibiting photography, but these appear at every venue and, in the era of the smartphone, it's generally assumed that professional cameras are banned without prior approval, but cell phones are tolerated. While I'm no fan of anyone holding their phone aloft for full songs, I have no problem with someone snapping a quick photo, so imagine my surprise as I took out my phone to suddenly find a huge security guard suddenly in front of me waving his finger no. I was at the very front of the stage so I moved to the back of the room, figuring that if I was behind everyone and obscuring no one's view then maybe the camera would be tolerated. So just as I snapped a single picture our phone disappeared inside a huge hand the suddenly appeared from beside me. Another security guard gave me that look no patron wants to see and I followed him out of the room. As he deleted the photo off my phone he handed it back to me and sent me outside.

This is the point where you might expect this writer to whine and complain and bemoan getting tossed out of a Prince show but let's be honest, despite changing societal expectations, an artist is certainly within his or her rights to ban all photos, so while I was surprised to see it actually enforced I don't really have any room to complain. And the staff was polite: I've seen security guards act far more poorly with much less reason in the past. I learned later that Prince had several guards throughout the crowd whose sole role was to catch people taking photos and, had I known that going in, I certainly wouldn't have ever taken out my phone (though I see at least one person got away with snapping a shot without being ejected).

And, in the end, who has any room to complain when the story is centered around being a few feet away from Prince in a room of about 500 people as he ripped through classics from his past for even only a few songs? Not this guy.