1. ALL of the celebrities were cordoned off from the regular audience, sort of like the cool kids’ table in your high school cafeteria.
2. The celebrity section was CHAOS for most of the show. Stars were getting up to present/perform, or take selfies with one another.
3. They were also split up into sections: So Lorde and Taylor Swift were seated right by Jason Derulo, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry were right near each other, and Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez were down the row from the Orange Is the New Black cast. It was pretty ~random~ seeing them all mishmashed together!
4. The celebrities were seated adjacent to the stage, facing the audience. Sometimes, it was hard to choose whether to look at all the star wattage sitting down or what was happening on stage.
5. To add to this craziness, producers were constantly shuffling seat fillers in and out when celebs temporarily left their seats. That means sometimes average people like you and I were seated next to REAL stars!
6. Whenever a celeb had to get up — to perform, take a picture, present an award, go to the bathroom, etc. — it seemed like they did it with an entourage of, like, 10 people. Stars, they’re just like us…except when they’re not!
7. The stage was a HUGE spaceship. You can kind of see this on TV, but it’s even crazier in person because it SURROUNDED you.
8. The first screams from the crowd were when Orange Is the New Black stars Laverne Cox and Uzo Aduba walked to their seats.
9. Laverne also danced during the ENTIRE show. During one commercial break, she stood up and broke it down to a Jay Z-Kanye song. The entire audience ATE. IT. UP.
10. The Orange Is the New Black cast was seated in front of the Kardashians, which is kind of funny when you think about it.
11. The show was TOTALLY laid out for television, so it wasn’t 100% live-audience-friendly. You couldn’t see Nicki Minaj for the first part of “Anaconda,” and when Beyoncé sang “Drunk in Love” during her medley, she was perpendicular to the main pit and half of the seated audience could see only the back of her stage.
12. This was especially true when the cameramen followed a performer around on stage. Taylor Swift sang “Shake It Off” directly into a camera, which made sense when you were watching on TV. But when you’re there, it’s like the artist was ignoring the thousands of people in the arena for a cameraman.
13. Despite that, the audience — especially close to the stage — was encouraged to clap, wave their hands in the air, cheer, and generally be very lively the entire show so as to complete the television experience.
14. Basically, everyone wanted to get a selfie with Kim Kardashian and Kendall and Kylie Jenner…and they were totally down for it.
15. The audience was slightly terrified by — but also VERY into — Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” performance.
16. Taylor Swift was dancing along to the music the ENTIRE show, and it actually was pretty cute.
17. T. Swift was also genuinely very excited when Lorde won for Best Rock Video and was cheering even when the camera wasn’t on her! ~friendship~
18. The floor was where all the fun was if you were a member of the audience, since you were standing up and dancing the entire time.
19. Originally people on the floor weren’t allowed to have cell phones at ALL. But duh, because this is 2014, most people were snapping pictures and taking video with their phones by the end of the show.
20. On the other hand, the main audience was relatively demure for most of the event. Even when Beyoncé told everyone to get up on their feet, it took a little while for the main audience to rise. LISTEN TO QUEEN BEY!
21. During EVERY commercial break the stage had to be broken down and shifted for the next performance. It was pretty chaotic, especially because it had to be done before the commercial ended.
22. In order to do that, a guy from the production team would stand on the moving stage and shout directions AT the audience in the pit, sort of like a drill sergeant. Then, production members in the audience would direct people like traffic. Fun!
23. The first time we did this, we were yelled at INCREDIBLY loudly by one of the drill sergeants. Afterward, he told us next time we made the move we would have to do it differently because we were so awful the first time. Whoops.
24. Perhaps it’s because the audience was so young, but 5 Seconds of Summer had what seemed like the loudest fan reaction…
25. …Or it might have been Iggy Azalea’s performance of “Black Widow” with Rita Ora. The audience in the pit REALLY loved Iggy.
26. T. Swift was ALSO super cute when Jason Derulo went on stage to introduce Maroon 5. She took Jordin Sparks’ phone and snapped photos of her while she was looking on stage at Jason. ~YoUnG LoVe~
27. Other celebs were really into the music too — especially Beyoncé’s performance. Katy Perry was up and dancing the whole time.
28. They were also into making new friends. After accepting her award, Camila Cabello of Fifth Harmony went out of her way to introduce herself to Taylor Swift and Lorde. If you looked closely, it looked like Lorde said, “Hi, I’m Lorde” — it was cute!
29. Between all the bodies and the pyrotechnics, it gets HOT by the end of the show. Like, everyone in the audience was a sweaty mess. Even Beyoncé was glistening.
30. No one in the audience knew what was going on when Miley Cyrus didn’t go on stage to collect her VMA award for Best Video. But when everyone realized what her friend Jesse was doing on stage — accepting the award and advocating for homeless young people — the audience went silent.
31. At the end, it looked like Kim Kardashian was going to leave right before Beyoncé’s performance. But nope, she was just getting up to take a selfie with Sam Smith, whom she introduced onstage earlier in the evening.
32. Jay Z also walked out into the celebrity area with Blue Ivy around this time, and the audience erupted into cheers — partially because they were excited to see the two of them, and partially because the arrival of Beyoncé was imminent.
33. But maybe the most exciting moment of the evening (aside from Bey’s performance, DUH) was seeing about 50 guys on stage putting together her set. Were we going to be ready?
34. Beyoncé SHUT. IT. DOWN. And was even more impressive in person. But you probably already knew that, didn’t you?