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Here's What Actually Happens When You Go To The VMAs

A lot happened, and I saw it all. Or at least most of it.

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1. Getting ready for an awards show is kind of like prepping for a zombie apocalypse: You really never can be too prepared.

Sam Stryker / BuzzFeed

You know how doomsday preppers have underground rooms filled with flashlights and canned food in case of the Apocalypse? If you're smart, you will prepare the same way for awards shows. Here's what was in my survival kit aka the tote bag I lugged into the show:

— A protein bar, a Kind bar, and a Clif bar. I got really hungry.

— A Gatorade and a water. I'm always dehydrated.

— Chewable Gatorade (yes that's a thing) in case security confiscated my liquids.

— Sunscreen. I'm really pale, and we thought the carpet was going to be outside.

— Deodorant. You cannot have B.O. around celebrities. It's a rule.

— A toothbrush, toothpaste, and gum. Champagne breath is REAL, y'all.

— A towel. I get really shiny, and I needed to wipe myself down during the red carpet interviews. #GLAM

— An iPhone charger and charge pack. Because let's be real, if I wasn't prepared Karma was going to be a bitch and my phone would have died well before Kanye declared he was running for president.

— My glasses, contacts case, and contact solution. OK, those might have been unnecessary.

2. You should dress for comfort, like if you wanted to stay in and watch Netflix but look good at the same time.

Sam Stryker / BuzzFeed

The thing is, the VMAs dress code seems to be best described as "dress really crazy." Everyone has insane and/or chic outfits — there are tuxes, pasties, so much neon; you name it, someone is wearing it (or not wearing it!). Therefore, the way to actually stand out is to dress for comfort and not to be noticed. After all, you'll be spending several hours standing in a hot room, waiting in line forever, getting up and down from your seat to pee, and drinking, drinking, drinking. So I opted for something cozy — a short-sleeve button-down shirt my friend accidentally left at my house, shorts I found on my bedroom floor, and nice-ish boots. And I felt pretty good about my outfit choice.

3. Attending an awards show is an all-day marathon, NOT a sprint.

It's human nature to complain about the length of awards shows on TV, like trying to get to a round dollar amount when you're gassing up your car. But after attending the VMAs I will never complain about long shows because experiencing the real thing is so, so much more exhausting than watching from home. It's not like you just show up to the show, watch a few famous people get trophies, and then go home. It's like an iceberg — everyone at home just sees the tip, but there is a TON of stuff below the water (getting dressed/ready, waiting at the red carpet, waiting in so many lines, etc.). Except Miley Cyrus is hosting this iceberg and Britney Spears is on it.


4. The red carpet is a HAUTE MESS in real life.

Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic make red carpets seem effortless and glamorous, like as if your Instagram feed came to life. And yes, all the stars are there and they look amazing. Chrissy Teigen! Fifth Harmony! Nick Jonas! At least 50% of the Kardashian family (they have to meet a quota)! But while red carpets may seem like a total glamfest on TV, they're actually more like if the running of the bulls happened with famous people if you're actually there. I believe the scientific term is "clusterfuck," but for about two hours, you have producers running around like crazy, publicists with celebs in tow, and everyone taking selfies. It's a mess!!!

5. Since it's such a long day, you'll find yourself whining about SOMETHING until you remember you're at the VMAs.

OK so a common misconception about awards shows is that you just show up in a nice dress or tux, walk a red carpet, and then go inside and get hammered on free champagne. They don't teach you how to attend an awards show in school, and going to one is not for the faint of heart. At various points in the evening, I was complaining about various things: having swamp-ass, needing to pee, not getting to talk to Fifth Harmony, being hangry AF, and the long line for free booze.

But then you remember there are countless people who would gladly take your seat (like the fans waiting outside the event holding signs, above right), and you're at the center of the musical universe for the evening. BAM. Then you feel better.

6. Awards shows are like a convention for cool, pretty people.

Aside from the smokin' celebs, the rest of the audience was very, very attractive as well — it was hard to keep track of who was and wasn't famous. I wanted to yell at the not famous hot people, "Hey! You're hot, and you're confusing me." It's pretty much the best people watching ever. I was kind of a sweaty greasy mess, so I kind of felt like I was on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of looks!

7. The open bar is everything!!!

Sam Stryker / BuzzFeed

There was an open bar, and this was the saving grace of the evening because duh, some things are just better with a little buzz. The line was BACKED UP, and it was nearly impossible to walk in the lobby because so many people were thirsty for free booze. Honestly, I think most of the audience spent more time in line for booze than actually watching the show. Luckily, you could get two drinks at a time so I was double-fisting sparkling wine most of the night.


8. It goes without saying, but there are so many celebrities!!!


So obviously the coolest part of the VMAs is all the celebrities (the open bar is a close second). And even after the red carpet, they're right there with you! All of the celebrities are seated together in the audience — it's sort of like the Plastics in Mean Girls and I was sitting in the loge with the sexually active band geeks. But even though you might not be seated WITH the celebs, it doesn't mean you won't get to interact with them! Here's a brief rundown of things I observed during the evening:

— Miley's older sister, Brandi, was standing next to us on the red carpet. She was really cool and fun. I guess it runs in the family.

— Ronan Farrow was also really close to us on the red carpet. He was there with Today and I am really jealous of his hair. I'm also jealous of the fact he got to talk to Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and I didn't.

— Mike Will Made It brought us over free champagne. Nice guy!

— I exited the carpet with Vanessa Hudgens (we were standing next to each other) but I think she took the elevator down to the show but I took the stairs.

— I went through security at the same time as Holland Roden from Teen Wolf. Luckily we both made it through OK.

— In the lobby, I was trying to put my drink wristband on but was struggling. I was in the show alone, so I looked around to see if anyone could help me. I saw Tyler Posey from Teen Wolf and shouted "Tyler!" and asked him to put on my wristband. He did. Tyler Posey is really nice.

— When I was grabbing drinks, I ran into two contestants from The Amazing Race. Luckily, one of them recommended grabbing two drinks while I was at the bar. It was the best advice I received all day.

— When Rita Ora went onstage to present I shouted, "I love you Rita!" Even though I was sort of in the back, she heard me and mouthed, "I love you too." It made it to TV, and everyone in my section was really excited for me. Thanks, Rita!

— Also, no one seems to agree if Nicki calling out Miley was staged or not. From being looked like it was real. And not everyone knew what was going on at the time.

— And finally, Kanye got a pretty mixed reaction from the audience during his Video Vanguard speech. There were cheers. There were boos. There were cheers and boos at the same time. Kanye likes to cause kantroversy, I guess?

9. Once the show ends, everyone is like "Bye!"

Sam Stryker / BuzzFeed

A huge rush of celebrities and plebeians alike rushes out of the auditorium to make it to the after-parties — or in my case, to my car so I could rush home and scarf down dinner. And just like that, your day is over — you're tired, probably hangry, and still aren't quite sure WHAT exactly you just witnessed. But you're OK with that, because you were one of the lucky few to witness the VMAs live and unfiltered.