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I went to a concert with a no-phone policy and... survived.

I went to a concert with a no-phone policy and... survived.

a little disclaimer: the title contains irony. but think about it. when was the last time you went to a concert and didn’t see a cell phone? can’t remember? me neither. my camera roll is filled with videos from concerts I went to in the past and I believe so is yours. that changed last month when I attended tony! toni! toné! show in DC.

it is the first time in nearly 30 years that the soul/r&b group formed by raphael saadiq, his brother d’wayne wiggins and their cousin timothy riley reunites on stage. the oakland-natives however have one special request to fans: bring your love, not your phones. I was curious to see how this would take place and more important how would people - including myself - react. in full transparency, I have been to plays and other shows where recording was not allowed, but not a concert. let’s be honest, 9 out of 10 times our first instinct is to yeet our phones high up in the air to snap a video of our favorite song.

the phone-free experience is possible through a partnership with yondr, a company founded in san francisco in 2014 that believes that cell phones can sometimes prevent us from enjoying moments to the fullest. this is how it works: after switching off your phone or setting it to silent mode, you place the device inside a pouch that immediately locks when it’s closed. you maintain possession of your phone during the entire event and can still access it in designated areas, where staff will unlock the pouch. so far, it has been used in theaters, schools, hospitals and so on.

I must confess I was a bit skeptical at first, not so much about the show itself but mostly because I was solo. here’s what I did. I tried to get to the venue close to the time of the show and got myself a drink at the bar. instead of texting someone back home or scrolling down my instagram feed, I found myself chatting with other fans before the show started and once it started... all I did was dancing and singing along the tonies. over the course of two hours, tony! toni! toné! performed all their hits, from “let’s get down” to “whatever you want”, “anniversary” or “it never rains (in southern california), including a couple of songs from lucy pearl and saadiq’s solo albums. the mood at the theater at the mgm harbor in washington was of a big celebration. everyone was truly living the moment - and for the most part on their feet dancing - without the distraction of cell phones or the pressure to record every moment of the show. and believe me, everyone left with a smile on their faces.

while walking down the escalators, I overheard a lady voicing what I believe was the overall feeling. “I wish I could have filmed a few parts so I could relive this evening”, she said. I often find myself re-watching videos from concerts so I can totally sympathize with her claim. it is perfectly acceptable wanting to preserve memories. while I do believe this compulsion to document every moment of our lives is somehow limiting - and can we all agree a little annoying too? - I also wish we could find a good compromise. but ultimately, I believe in respecting the artists and their vision. and for those two hours, I didn’t think about my phone once.

cátia santos reis "the world is yours but greece is mine” could be her mantra as cátia santos reis is yet to find a greek island she hasn’t fallen in love with. in the meantime, she keeps traveling the world. for CINCO editorial, the 34 year-old, will share her favorite things to do, visit and eat in every destination.


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