On November 2, 2022, I was shopping for groceries at a supermarket and noticed a bottle of Frontera wine with a card that caught my attention. The message on the card read, “enter to attend the Grammy Awards with Frontera.” I accessed the website, and the question “what would your nominee for Record of the Year be?” popped up. Of course, my answer was “The Foundations of Decay” by My Chemical Romance — such a masterpiece, but, sadly, they weren’t nominated —. You could also enter the contest by logging receipts from your Frontera wine purchases.
I never thought I’d win because I didn’t buy any bottle, and those who did had more opportunities of winning — for each receipt, they got two entries —. Fast forward to December 12, 2022, and I’ve got two missing calls from an unknown number: the first one at 12:01 p.m. and the second one at 12:07 p.m. I didn’t call back or anything because I didn’t think it was important. Then, at 4:47 p.m., they call me again. I was at a McDonald’s with my mom and sister buying some fries, and I answered. The terms and conditions stated that a maximum of three calls would be made, and if the winner didn’t answer, they would choose someone else.
The Frontera representative asks me if I remember I entered the contest. I do, but I thought the winner had already been chosen. I say yes, and she tells me I’m the lucky winner. She then tells me I don’t sound that excited. Again, I’m at a McDonald’s full of people, I can’t overreact, and the level of scams over the phone in Costa Rica is at an all-time high. I just say “it’s something very difficult to process” — indeed, it was, and even after the fact, it still is —. Then, she tells me to send her my documents via e-mail, and the rest is history. After checking the documents, the company shared a picture on social media announcing the winner. That’s when it really felt official for me. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Never in my wildest dreams did I picture myself attending the biggest night in music.
Little did I know that Frontera had planned an even better weekend than I had expected. First, they booked everyone in at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Yes, that’s where Taylor Swift dances around in her “Delicate” music video, and also where Ed Sheeran dances with Brittany Cherry to “Thinking Out Loud.” The first night, Frontera invited us to a rooftop dinner at Perch’s 16th Floor Rooftop Bar at Pershing Square Downtown LA. There, we got to socialize with the rest of the winners and the Frontera team. It was great getting to know people from Canada, South Korea, Chile, Colombia, and the US.
The next day, February 4, we had the most tiring yet exciting day. First thing in the morning, we arrived at Crypto.com Arena for a backstage look at the Grammys red carpet and stage preparations. We also visited the TV/radio room, where we were able to check if the mics worked properly. At one point, while walking around the arena, we heard Lizzo singing the first notes of “About Damn Time” during rehearsal.
After a few hours, we arrived at the Grammy Museum; I was in awe. One of my long-time dreams has been going to that museum. I can’t express the excitement I felt entering the place. I had to hold back tears when I saw the Michael Jackson wall. Seeing the “Thriller” signed jacket is something I’ll never forget. Similarly, when I saw the Fender bass guitar that belonged to Jimi Hendrix, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm. Nevertheless, what surprised me the most is that there are at least three huge walls full of Marco Antonio Solís memorabilia. He even has a star on the Walk of Fame; I had no idea he was so popular in the US. Thereafter, we had lunch at Hard Rock Cafe Hollywood on Hollywood Boulevard. I saw one of Hendrix’s hats, and, of course, I had to order a drink named “Purple Haze.”
After lunch, we walked to the Dolby Theater and the TCL Chinese Theater. It was very exciting to see the stars on the Walk of Fame; I loved seeing Michael Jackson’s and Slash’s stars, and, of course, Shrek’s. Likewise, seeing the handprints at the Chinese Theater was a surreal moment. I almost screamed when I saw the Avengers’ spot. To be honest, I thought Chris Hemsworth’s hands were bigger. Also, my hands are the same size as Scarlett Johansson’s; that was a fun discovery.
Then, we got on the tour bus and went sightseeing around downtown Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Hollywood Hills, and West Hollywood. Seeing the Hollywood sign was dreamlike; Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” was playing in my mind. We drove around celebrities’ houses, though we could barely see anything because of the big privacy hedges. Later, we walked around Santa Monica Boulevard window-shopping. That evening, we dined at Herb Alpert’s Vibrato Grill & Jazz on Beverly Glen Circle, a very coveted place with live entertainment every night. That Saturday, music was in charge of singer-songwriter Manu Le Prince, joined by talented musicians Hussain Jiffry, Mitchell Long, Kevin Winard, Brandon Fields, and Bill Cantos. The night was delightful and a great way to end the busy day.
Finally, the big day arrived. My earliest Grammy memory is watching Taylor Swift perform “Fifteen” with Miley at the 2009 ceremony. Since then, I’ve never missed one show. Lady Gaga arriving in an egg in 2011, Swift being busy opening the 2013 ceremony, Rihanna’s marvelous 2015 dress, twenty one pilots taking their pants off before accepting their first Grammy in 2016, Alicia Keys’ 2019 medley of songs she wishes she wrote, and Taylor’s iconic 2021 flower dress and Album of the Year win for folklore. All great moments in pop culture history, and, this year, I had the chance to witness more history.
When we arrived at the red carpet, I was in disbelief. I was excited for the show and which celebrities I would see. I was able to spot Lil Wayne’s head from afar, host Trevor Noah greeted some people, and Harry Styles walked by us and said hi. My 14-year-old self would’ve never believed me if I told her I saw Harry around three feet away after he walked the red carpet. I could also see Heidi Klum, and while all eyes were on her, I asked Tom Kaulitz for a selfie; he was really nice! Later, we saw Pentatonix and asked Scott Hoying and Kevin Olusola for a picture. I was truly hoping to meet Taylor Swift on the red carpet, but, alas, she arrived earlier.
Now inside the arena, excitement was through the roof. There were a lot of wonderful moments during the ceremony, but being able to see Beyoncé become the artist with most Grammy wins ever was a moment that almost brought me to tears. Similarly, as a former die-hard directioner, witnessing Harry Styles performing “As It Was” — arguably his most popular song — and winning Album of the Year made me feel very proud of him.
Something I never imagined would happen to me was getting to see Chris Martin twice in less than a year — the first one being Coldplay’s concert in Costa Rica. In my opinion, the best performance this year was the 50 years of hip-hop tribute. The energy of both the crowd and performers was unmatched. Likewise, seeing Dr. Dre win the inaugural Dr. Dre Global Impact Award is a moment I will treasure forever.
The highlight of my night — and of my life — at the 65th Grammy Awards was definitely seeing Taylor Swift. Even though I saw her, like, 300 feet away and she looked the size of an ant, I felt happier than ever just being in the same room and breathing the same air as her. Witnessing her iconic award-show dance moves was peak happiness for me. Then, during Steve Lacy’s performance of “Bad Habit,” I saw Taylor leaving her spot. I thought, “she’s going to change her outfit to surprise-perform,” but she went over to Harry’s table to say hi. I recorded the whole thing, but I couldn’t believe my eyes. Witnessing my teenage years idol and my lifelong favorite artist interacting with each other was surreal.
Finally, we had the opportunity to attend the Grammy Celebration After-Party at Los Angeles Convention Center. I was wearing a The Black Parade t-shirt, and one of the security guards who checked the tickets saw it and said “oh! My Chemical Romance” with a huge smile on his face. Takes one to know one.
The rooms were decorated with tropical items like flowers and birds, and violet, magenta, and crimson lights were everywhere. At first, we were at the Celebration Jazz Lounge, where we could listen to Grammy-nominated group Conga Patria Son Jarocho Collective. Then, we moved to the main room, where Flo-Rida headlined the show and performed iconic songs such as “Club Can’t Handle Me” and “Whistle.” He also invited the women in the crowd on stage for his performance of “Low,” and the men for “GDFR.” Joining him were also Flavor Flav and Oya Baby. To end the night, DJ Michelle Pesce took the main stage while people danced happily.
Attending an award show as a music fan is a unique experience since you’re watching your favorite artists socializing, dancing, and overall having fun. It’s not like attending a concert or meeting them on the street. It’s not something everyone gets the chance to experience. Frontera Wines planned a superb weekend full of entertainment. The whole team of representatives made sure we enjoyed every activity to the fullest, and we did! I will be forever grateful to Frontera and its workers for giving me the adventure of a lifetime and fulfilling so many of my almost life-long dreams.
Of course, no trip is complete without music, so I made a playlist with some of my favorite songs that mention — even just once — California, LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, or the West Coast. Find it below!