Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am a huge Michael Jackson fan. I would go so far as to say I stan harder for Michael Jackson than I do for Cardi B. I have never offered to give anyone the hands over Cardi B, but I am absolutely intolerant of Michael Jackson slander, and I absolutely will fight you over it.
Just kidding. Kinda.
On Aug. 29, the estate of Michael Jackson and Sony Music hosted a huge star-studded event at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas to honor of the King of Pop on what would have been his 60th birthday. The evening included a performance of the Michael Jackson ONE Cirque du Soleil show and “The Diamond Celebration” party at Daylight Beach Club.
When I was invited to attend the event, I was immediately excited. I had never seen the Cirque du Soleil show, and the opportunity to do so on the 60th anniversary of the day Michael was gifted to this world was something I could not pass up.
Roughly 36 hours after the experience, I am still coasting on the high from the experience. It was a family reunion, a party at your best friend’s house, an amazing show and a vivid display of love all rolled up in one. I will never forget it as long as I live.
The Michael Jackson ONE show is a spectacle that anyone who calls themselves a Michael Jackson fan has to witness at least once in their lifetime. As Sway Calloway and I discussed later that night, this show was created for the Michael Jackson superfan. It takes a deep dive into his catalog of music and uses bits of practically every album to weave a story of four misfits who go on a journey to overcome their personal obstacles by taking on various attributes of Michael Jackson. They each get one item belonging to Jackson—his famous single glove, his shoes (complete with glittery socks!), his fedora, and his sunglasses—and with it a newfound ability or trait—his playfulness, his agility, his gracefulness and his courage, respectively.
I experienced a range of emotions watching the show—nostalgia, happiness, mirth, excitement, sadness and joy. It was that deep. It was interactive and entertaining. The combination of Jackson’s music and Cirque du Soleil’s signature acrobatics was the right kind of sensory overload. Everything was happening at once, and the entire audience was thoroughly engaged. I came out of the dark theater feeling exhilarated.
After the show, we made the trek—and yes, it was a trek—from the theater to Mandalay Bay’s Daylight Beach Club for “The Diamond Celebration,” a poolside birthday party that featured live performances by Mark Ronson and Usher.
The birthday party was a gathering for family, friends and fans alike—and the best part is everyone mingled with everyone. It was just that kind of night. Everyone was laughing, singing, dancing, hugging, reminiscing and sharing stories of their experiences with Michael and his music. Sway Calloway was the host for the night, and he kept the crowd hype in between sets.
The scene in the VIP area was the same as it was everywhere else. Everyone was greeting each other with hugs and smiles, and there were those candid moments where you caught random celebrities have fan moments with each other.
Angela Bassett, Nelson George, DJ Quik, Hi-C, Blake Griffin, Evan Ross and Ashlee Simpson Ross are just a few of the many people wandering the area taking pictures, dancing and singing right along with the rest of us.
The best moment of the night had to be watching everyone swarm hip-hop veteran Doug E. Fresh when he walked in, taking group pictures and paying respect to another legend in his own right.
Doug E. told me about his respect for Michael as both a man and an artist, and that was a common theme throughout the evening.
Sway told me the show made him emotional as well.
“His messages are still so relevant today,” he said, and it’s true.
During the party, Elizabeth Taylor’s grandson—Quinn Tivey—and Evan Ross presented the Elizabeth Taylor Legacy Award to Paris and Prince Jackson on their father’s behalf in honor of the work he did for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Mark Ronson performed a set of music that including special remixes he had done of several Michael Jackson classics. He then switched to what I told Sway was the “auntie” playlist and really got us grooving. We danced and sang throughout Ronson’s entire set.
After a brief dance music interlude, it was time for Usher to take the stage—and this man did not disappoint.
Usher is the perfect reminder of the influence Michael had on those who came after him. His dance moves, the way he manages to sing and perform tricky choreography, and the way he engages the crowd are all reminiscent of the “Thriller Maker.”
Usher ended his set with his own tribute to Jackson—a dance performance set to some of Jackson’s classics.
When the party was over, none of us were ready to leave.
We had danced, sang, laughed, hugged, loved, made new friends and reunited with old ones.
As Tito Jackson said when he took the stage that night, “It was just what Michael would have wanted.”
Michael’s spirit was all up and through that entire evening. You could feel it everywhere you went.
And that is exactly as it should have been.
The entire evening was an incredible tribute to our bright, shining King and the fans who love him.
It is just what he would have wanted.