Childhood Memories Friday: Ushering at IU

IU ushering 1980s

One of my fond memories from my college days is ushering for shows at the auditorium.

Ushering at IU

I can’t recall how I learned about ushering, but I did it from the time I was a freshman there. The details are fuzzy, but I think that we could peruse all the shows presented and then choose the ones we wanted to usher at. There were a few exceptions, like everyone had to usher for a performance of the Nutcracker, and maybe at an IU Sing performance. But other than that, I was able to basically see any concert I wanted for free, just for helping people to their seats for a little while before the show. This was a great deal for a poor college student.

For ushering, I wore a very basic white blouse and black skirt. After the first ten minutes or so of the show, we were allowed to find a seat. I think we were supposed to sit near the back, but usually we found seats closer to the front and nobody seemed to care.

It was fun to look through my “school box” and see the programs from the various concerts I attended. I specifically remember being in the balcony when the Pointer Sisters performed. It was shaking, which was a little scary!

I also remember the Liberace concert. A friend was ushering too, and somehow we found out after the concert that Liberace would be leaving through a certain door in the back. We went there, and Liberace walked right past us — close enough to touch! I see now that he performed at IU in September 1984, and he died in February 1987. At that time, nobody talked about him being gay, having AIDS, etc. It was a different time for sure.

Many times since my college days, I’ve wished I could still usher for shows. It was fun to interact with the people coming to the concerts, and a great way to see more artists without breaking the bank.

Have you ever been an usher?

8 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Ushering at IU

  1. What a fun Friday post Susan. I’ve never ushered for a show before, but it sounds fun. I can’t imagine being that close to Liberace as I recall from the performances my mom used to watch on TV.

  2. I saw Liberace at Ft. Wayne’s Coliseum when I was in high school, and it was such a thrill to get his autograph! I’m pretty sure that I still have the program with the autograph on it somewhere in my memorabilia stuff upstairs, but I haven’t looked at any of that stuff in years. Also, I watched several shows on TV where he was playing piano around that time, probably in the 1950s. It was difficult to imagine how he could play so well with all of those huge rings on his fingers.

    As for ushering, I did do that a few times at Huntington University around 25 years ago or so. We had to wear red jackets with white blouses and black slacks. My husband’s piano playing for pre-shows and intermissions at Embassy Theater in Ft. Wayne afforded the opportunity for us to see many shows, concerts, and plays free of charge for Joe’s volunteer time. Some of my favorites were Crystal Gale, Beach Boys, Mama Mia, Marvin Hamlisch, and Roger Williams.

  3. No, I didn’t usher, but my Grandmother gave me a ticket package to the auditorium my freshman year. I saw Marvin Hamlish,, Itzhak Perhlman and some others (I get them confused with concerts my parents and I saw at Emens Auditorium at BSU).It was wonderful. I never had any desire to go to drunken rock concerts then. Oh, and Joshua Bell the great violinist, was a child prodigy at IU then. Leonard Bernstein was “artist in residence” one semester, too. Fun memories, as always.

  4. I never did, but my husband did. Our school did Shakespearean plays every year, and my favorite was King Lear. Two guests we had that I still enjoy listening to were Christopher Parkening (classical guitarist) and the King’s Singers (British a capella group).

  5. What a wonderful memory! No, I never ushered. But my husband gets us tickets to various shows around town, by doing their programs for them. We’ve seen some wonderful performances!

  6. What fun for you! Were you also paid, or was attending the performance your payment? If that were the only payment, it would have been well worth it!

  7. How fun, and what an amazing opportunity! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  8. Interesting blog and comments. No, I’ve never ushered but I think I’d have enjoyed it. A great way to see concerts and celebrities!

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