- Showtime! (A Pregnant Person's Guide to Concert Going in NYC)
Preparing for your first baby after years of responsibility-free fun in New York takes more than just researching the best strollers and birthing centers. For me, it also meant cramming as much fun as humanly possible into every single remaining baby-free moment. I didn’t want my pregnancy to keep me from doing all the things I used to do (ok, it’s kept me from doing some things, like getting drunk and tying my shoes) before plunging into the world of breastfeeding and babysitters. Going to see live music has always been a big part of my social life, but concert-going can be rough when your feet are swollen and you have to pee every 30 seconds. Although I don’t think that any music venue in town was set up with the comfort of pregnant women in mind, some venues can still be pretty great places to see a show, while others should probably be avoided altogether.
I rated five New York City venues with special attention paid to four criteria: sightlines (if you have to squeeze to the front of the crowd to see the stage, you might as well just go home), bathroom access, seating availability, and strange looks, which is maybe the least crucial of the four, but no one likes feeling like the, shall we say, elephant in the room.
Music Hall of Williamsburg: In my normal life as a not-pregnant person, this is probably my favorite place in the city to see a show. Great programming, top-notch sound, excellent sightlines, and decent bar for hanging out before the show. Even super pregnant, it’s still pretty great. (I saw my last show here at 37-weeks along.) There is a large balcony with seats — if you can get there early enough to snag one — and lots of seating at the bar for hanging out between sets. The bathroom situation is perfectly acceptable, and if you must stand on the main floor, you can see perfectly well from just about anywhere. That means you can leave yourself room to make bathroom trips or be the first one out the door to grab a cab at the end of the night. Also, as far as I can tell, most of the people who frequent this place are far too self-absorbed to even notice a giant pregnant belly in their midst.
Glasslands: Upon walking in to Glasslands, I nearly turned right around and left. “I’ve gone too far, I’m a bad mother for even being here,” I thought to myself. This was triggered in part by the bouncer (nicely) asking me to avoid the front of the floor “because there will be a mosh pit,” and in part because I realized what a dump this place is. Then I noticed that they have a balcony, and on that balcony is a plush leather couch that no one seems interested in hanging out on at all. So, I made a little home for myself high above said mosh pit, rested on the couch between bands and had a very good time. The median age at Glasslands seems to be about 20, so they get high marks in the strange-looks department, but I’ll take what I can get. As for the bathrooms, they are gross, but plentiful.
Mercury Lounge: This is not an ideal place to see a show, but it’s fine. Its small size is both a help and a hindrance, since it’s easy to show up just as the headliner starts and get an okay view from the back of the crowd, therefore limiting your time on your feet. There are only two ladies’ room stalls, but the line isn’t usually too long. Generally it’s so crowded in here that most people won’t even be able to see you well enough to tell you’re pregnant, so I’ve never felt out of place. The biggest downside is that it’s hard to find anywhere to sit either in the performance space or at the bar.
Webster Hall: I have always considered Webster Hall something of a necessary evil. It’s not a fantastic place to see a show under any circumstances, but it’s not so terrible that you would skip seeing a band you like just because they are playing there. The sightlines are meh, but you can usually find a reasonable spot without having to try to work your way too far to the front. That said, there’s no seating at all that I’ve ever seen, and the bathroom lines tend towards the ridiculous. I didn’t get any strange looks last time I was there, but I was also at a Breeders concert, so half the people there were probably paying a babysitter that night themselves.
Roseland Ballroom: This place is a nightmare. The line for the bathroom at Roseland is what I imagine the waiting room in hell to be like: endless and full of terrible people. When you are done waiting on that line, you’d better not be hoping for a bottle of water or a soda, because the line for the bar is just as long — and it’s cash only. The programming here is all over the place — everyone from Crystal Castles to LL Cool J have played here in recent months — so I can’t really rate it in the strange-looks department. I can say that it is huge, so standing in the back isn’t a great way to see the show, but squeezing through the crowd to the front isn’t really an option either, and there’s nowhere at all to sit. Oh, and it’s in midtown.
A few general tips for your viewing pleasure:
- Flat, comfortable shoes and a small, light purse are crucial.
- Stick to the back. Being in a tightly packed crowd can be uncomfortable, and possibly unsafe if the drunk person next to you starts jumping around like its Seattle in the 90s.
- If you’re like me, you’re thirsty most of the time. Bring a water bottle with you. Maybe security will give you a hard time for it, but mostly they don’t want to mess with a pregnant lady, and you’ll save some time waiting at the bar.
- Let people be nice to you. Concert-goers have brought me stools to sit on, let me cut the bathroom line and offered other measures of kindness that you can’t go in expecting, but they can certainly make your night better.