I remember my first time alone at a concert. I was heading out to see Melissa Etheridge in New York at a lovely little concert hall almost forty-five minutes from my hotel opposite Central Park. I was terribly excited; I’m a huge Etheridge fan and the thought of her singing ‘Bring me some water’ was enough to banish any worries I might have had about going to a concert alone. Once I arrived at the concert hall, I picked up a glass of wine and meandered to my seat. The audience was primarily female; Melissa engages the feminist like no other artist barring perhaps Tina Turner. This was a stomping ground for equal rights and I could feel the room brim over with estrogen. Being a massive gay icon, I wasn’t surprised to find myself in the midst of girlfriends out with their girlfriends. I travel alone quite often and am always wary about being approached by men, but here in the company of women I was sucked into a cocoon of sisterhood.
By the end of the evening, I had made new friends and screamed every word of ‘Come to my window’ along with others who knew them as well as I did. There’s nothing worse than mouthing lyrics to a fellow concertgoer who responds with a deadpan face, or worse a patronizing smile. The only time I felt discomfort was when I bid my new friends goodbye and realized I’d forgotten to make any previous arrangements to get home. Rookie mistake. Exiting any concert is a hellish experience filled with shoving, claustrophobia and hailing the elusive taxi. I instinctively gathered pace, hunched my shoulders and arched my back like a defensive cat bristling at every call. I walked under the light of streetlamps avoiding subways and had my finger on the call button of my telephone; years of traveling solo at night has made am a wary walker. Soon enough I was in a cab home to my husband, who was watching a rerun of Friends when I got in.
Since then I have been to flamenco concerts, seen Florence & The Machine live alongside fifty thousand strangers, and braved many a long tube ride home. There is an entire world to explore and it’s going to be impossible to make the most of it if you have to depend on other people to enjoy it with you. So in my personal corner I am going to give you some tips on traveling alone and my experiences with solo travel; there’s almost nothing in the world like it. Remember, being alone is very different from being lonely.