Friday 19 January 2018

'Beliebers' camp out for concert

Fans hold images of pop starJustin Bieber in Mexico City's main plaza, the Zocalo (AP/Marco Ugarte)
Fans hold images of pop starJustin Bieber in Mexico City's main plaza, the Zocalo (AP/Marco Ugarte)

A "tween" squatter encampment has sprung up in Mexico City's chaotic centre as "Beliebers" seek to be closest to the stage when teenage superstar Justin Bieber holds a free concert.

Dozens of mostly girls aged 10 to 14 travelled for hundreds of miles to camp along a street near the Zocalo, the capital's vast central plaza, yesterday, where tens of thousands of unrelated political demonstrators gathered and crews built the concert stage.

Many of the young campers, dressed in Bieber's favourite colour purple and bopping to his music on headphones, were chaperoned by parents, some of whom took time off work to help their children miss school and be part of an audience expected to top 200,000.

The line of hundreds, which broke out spontaneously in chants of "Justin" seemed more worried about the giant cockroaches that roam Mexico City's streets at night than security, even as a similar free concert by Bieber in Oslo, Norway two weeks ago caused a stampede that injured dozens of fans.

"We kill them so they don't get close to the girls," Elizabeth Noriegas said of the roaches as she waited with her daughter, Frida Coss, the 17-year-old president of the Official Justin Bieber Fan Club of Mexico City. Frida was first in line.

Authorities said they would have more than 5,000 police on hand for the concert, helping keep order around barricades and checkpoints meant to prevent a dangerous crush of fans. Most will have to watch Bieber on a series of large screens set up near the plaza, rather than inside with their idol.

City official Hector Antunano said fans in the encampment would have a first shot at getting in as recognition for the effort they have made. He said the city was determined to prevent problems such as the crush that injured 40 Bieber fans at the Norway concert.

"Most of the fans will be between 10 and 17 years old. There will be a lot of girls. We are being very careful that the majority of the police are women and we are taking precautions so that there is no rush toward the stage," Mr Antunano said.

Leslie Bio, 13, her mother and three friends travelled 14 hours on a bus from the state of Sinaloa to attend the concert.

Justin "teaches us not to give up on our dreams", Leslie said.

Press Association

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