I saw on the news the other day that the "seats" at Red Rocks Amphitheater are going to be replaced.
If you've ever been to Red Rocks, you understand why I use the term "seats" loosely. They're really just long wooden ledges that run along the edge of the deep concrete "steps" that run from the top of the hill down to the stage of the most beautiful concert venue that God ever created.
Back in my earlier days, we didn't have much use for those ledges. Seating at Red Rocks was all by general admission. So when we went to see the Doobie Brothers or the Little River Band or Barry Manilow, we showed up early. Very early. We'd snag a spot near the stage, and then we'd spread our blankets over the concrete and bake in the sun all afternoon. There may occasionally have been libations involved. Red Rocks prohibited bottles and cans, but said nothing about wine in a box or schnapps in Kentucky Fried Chicken side dish containers.
I moved away from Denver for a few years, and when I came back there had been some changes at Red Rocks. It was a lot nicer. They had a restaurant and a museum and a bar. They had real restrooms instead of port-a-potties. And there was no more general admission. Now seating was reserved. I couldn't imagine how that could happen. We didn't sit in "seats", we spread out in "areas." We spread out picnics. We lounged.
Not any more. They drew little lines on those ledges -- which I had never really noticed before -- and designated the space between the lines as "seats." I didn't think it would work, but it's really fine. Of course, I'm older now and less inclined to "lounge" on hard concrete, so that probably makes a difference.
I saw Mark Knopfler's concert at Red Rocks a few weeks ago. It was amazing. But I was struck by something while I was there. (A thought, not a flying object.) We were sitting just a few rows from the top. Looking out over the amazing view of Denver and the foothills, it occurred to me that Red Rocks may be the only concert venue in the world where the best seats are furthest away from the stage. Why would I need to be close? I don't need to see how many new lines Mark Knopfler has added to his face since the Dire Straits broke up. I can hear the music just as well in the back. And I can see the beautiful setting that God chose to place this beautiful natural amphitheater. Listening to it while admiring that amazing scene made for a really magical evening.
After all that time my teenaged self spent trying to snag those front-row seats. Who knew?