Thank You Yezus! How To Survive A Sneaker Sleep-Out
Picture the opening to a big budget spy thriller. Mission Impossible or James Bond type shit. As the credits roll, Kanye West’s Mercy is played over quick-cut scenes of Blackberrys buzzing, iPads double-tapping and Paypal accounts ticking over, representing the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars the Yeezy has cost people in mental energy, internet downloads, electricity and work hours.
Fast forward. A camera in a helicopter is panning over a vibrant city, except that instead of New York or Tokyo it’s directly over a little shop called Saint Side in Melbourne’s western suburbs on a cold, grey, rainy afternoon. The time is 3pm and it’s Friday 8th June in St Albans. That’s how this epic adventure starts.
You see, I had every intention of putting in the yards for the Yeezy 2, but... there was a limit. My boys thought logically that the Sure! store in Melbourne would develop a line-up, but since the poster promised tickets to the first 72 in the queue, we thought getting there late Friday evening in preparation for a Saturday 10am ticket announcement would suffice.
We were wrong. Alex from the crew calls me at 3pm. He is stopping by Sure! to give me an update, ‘Mark, they are giving the tickets out as soon as the line gets to 72 so it doesn’t get too crazy. It’s around 35 now.’ My immediate thoughts are of desperation. I need to get there on the double! By 5pm, I’ve left work early and lined up, the guys from Sure! are patrolling the line like security guards from Metal Gear Solid. Cone-vision type shit. STAND IN THE ONE LINE! AGAINST THE WALL. AGAINST THE WALL PUNK!
They do a line-count about 5.30pm.
I am number 84 and I’m the first from my crew to line up. There are about 150 people in the line now. All hope is lost! Talk of the tickets being handed out soon are rife and people are getting edgy. It’s at this stage they decide to abandon the early ticket handout strategy. Instead, they want to make people wait til the published time of 10am the next morning. This would really separate the men from the boys and reward those who could go the distance. ‘TICKETS WILL BE GIVEN OUT SOON’ was followed by ‘NO TIME IS CERTAIN, MIGHT BE NOW, MIGHT BE 10AM TOMORROW.’
We are currently 16 hours away from 10am.
I’ve rushed here, like the last 100 people who joined the line, and I’m definitely not prepared. I mean, I was good to go from midnight to 10am, but not 5pm to 10am the following morning. It’s at this point that an altered state of consciousness takes over. I’m introducing myself over and over. ‘Mark, from Saint Side’, ‘Hi, Mark From Saint Side’, ‘YEAH THAT’S ME, Mark... from Saint Side.’
6pm becomes 7pm which becomes 8pm then 9pm (funny that!). People who have been lining up since 8am like Paul Chan are getting tired. Some kids are under 18 and you know they have to go home. Others have families and kids and they also have to go. Some people body-swap, as I did with my homie Christian. Others just drifted away and left the sanctuary of the line, only to be replaced as more people shuffle up.
Another head count is made and I am now number 56, thanks to Christian. (I am taking Christian to dinner to say thanks, so relax.)
By 9pm, four hours have passed since I arrived, though it feels like 20 minutes. It’s cold, but I’m not at all wet thanks to my Gore-Tex jacket. Friends drop off a few comfortable seats. Sure! hand out tickets up to number 90.
These tickets are so people don’t jump the queue, but it’s not the actual ticket to enter the raffle for the Yeezys. It’s a ticket to prove you were in the line and will be swapped at a time later in the evening, ‘between 2AM and 6am’ as the staff of Sure! announce. ‘If you’re not here for the next ticket, the person behind you will move up!’
Ticket for ticket, at a time undecided? Mind games!
So now we are cold, hungry and scared to leave for ANYTHING in case the guys from Sure! come back randomly. I’m scared to piss! YEEEEEZUS CHRIST! SO NOW I GOTTA STAND HERE FOR ANOTHER 8 HOURS!
We get some food, stock up on drinks and get back to the laneway quick smart. Let the official camping begin. Myself and the crew relocate to some shelter out of the rain. Out of the 10 of us, I’m the only person with an official chance inside the 72, as all of the others are on the ass-end of the number count. Some boys rocked up too late to even get the first ticket, but most hung around anyway.
As a typical Melbourne Friday night unfolds, the weirdos come out to play. A girl in her late teens, dressed up a bit fancy, walks through the alleyway, hanging around sneakerhead kids a bit too closely, so I’m suspect. She walks over to some people’s belongings, as if pretending to look for something she’s lost. About 30 minutes later I see her walking arm locked with some dude who clearly didn’t look like her boyfriend. Was she looking for work? Bored, I put myself in the shoes of a teenage hooker for a minute, as you do.
This is not a good idea, so I immediately stop thinking like a teenage hooker. Standing back from the crowd, there are plenty of cool sneakers but also plenty of unattended bags and lots of sneakerhead’s girls are rocking high-end Gucci and LV etc. MAKE THIS A LESSON TO YOU. KEEP YOUR SHIT ON LOCK DOWN!
I sit back down, then get up, as everyone rushes to the end of the laneway. A fight is going down. Camera phones are out, people are star-jumping to ‘WORLD STAR, WORLD STAR’ so I laugh, we all do, and then we go back to our seats.
I think it’s about midnight. Two guys show up in overalls, big dudes, a tad more staunch than you’d expect, especially compared to kids in Shelltoes and selvedge denim. One’s in all-black, the other is in overalls and boots, and they’re muggin’ a few people in the line. Thankfully they didn’t make a move either. Maybe they were undercover sneakerheads. Who knows, either way... THANK YOU YEEZUS!
It’s after midnight.
I put headphones on and start chanting some French Montana to pass the time. We are approached by a gigantic drunk Islander dude. He’s asking why we can’t swear at police, as he just did, but was frowned upon for it. He was funny. I thought we were on a reality TV show for a minute, right up until he got a tad aggressive and started telling us that we all looked like sheep on a farm. I thought to myself, ‘That’s what we are, Nike sheep on Kanye’s farm!’ The drunk dude, with zero coherent conversational ability, but the genetics of an Olympian, was right. YEEZUS CHRIST, HE WAS RIGHT!
I felt low. I felt cold and at the mercy of Sure!, with no certain answer as to what would happen. Were they ever coming back? If so, when? It’s midnight and I’m lining up for a raffle ticket. There are 18 pairs for 72 people. Will I even win? What if I don’t? All this waiting for nothing. We aren’t even getting the sneakers, we are waiting for a raffle ticket! LITTLE BABY YEEZUS, WHAT AM I THINKING?
It’s about 2am by now.
Some people start looking left and right and discussions of ‘Is this worth it?’ begin. No one
was leaving. It is six degrees, spitting rain and a lot of people who were unprepared and underdressed are sitting in the street talking about sneakers.
A couple of lads roll through. Clearly they had just painted a house or were chroming. Either way, they are covered in paint. If they were painting, I think they held the can the wrong way! This made me laugh hard, as these two frail, young guys were discussing ‘rolling’ some of the guys in the line. YEEZUS CHRIST LADS. YOU’RE BOTH SKINNIER THAN THAT CHINESE GUY’S GIRLFRIEND.
One of the homies in the line loses his mind, standing at the top of the laneway, yelling about how this was torture, what was wrong with us, that we were all idiots and that we should all just leave and boycott the event. Paralysed by thoughts of quitting and going Yeezy-less, we power on and conversations of ‘Is this worth it?’ turn into ‘Why are we being made to wait?’
It’s nearly 4am.
Collectively, we have all lost our marbles. No one wants to leave, but no one really wanted to stay.
Some frustrations were vented on the Sneaker Freaker forum, which may – or may not have – influenced the Sure! staff to cut the night short. At 4am the first 72 in the line were granted a ticket and with that, entry to the launch party is assured. Apparently one person had left, so number 73 in the line lucked-in and scored an official invite. Kudos to him. I now feel sorry for number 74. Oh well.
A short time later.
I caught a cold that night, which a week later I still had. But I was also ‘lucky’ enough to take home a pair of Yeezys. So I’ll wrap it up by saying... IT WASN’T YEEZY, BUT I GOT THERE.