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Contributed by: Vanessa Harwood
Contributed on: October 17, 2010

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1977 (New York City Blackout)

In your own words, tell the story of your experience in the blackout(s). Try to recall specific events and the people, places, and things involved; also include more general reactions, images adn last impressions?
I was performing on stage at the Metropolitan Opera House with The National Ballet of Canada in La Fille Mal Gardee with Fernando Bujones, now deceased.
As I touched the door knob to go on stage for the 2nd act the lights went off. I said" oh my what did I do?". I thought it was my fault. But in awhile we heard it was the whole city. Backstage was so pitch black I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. Our company manager eventually went in front of the curtain to calm people down. He started telling jokes. The emergency lighting wasn't very good and they had to evacuate the theater one row at a time. When we realized there was no more performance Fernando shared his bottle of wine that he had with us. Hours later we were walked back to our hotel in the blistering heat only to be confronted with many floors of stairs back to our rooms. Looking out of my window, there was Broadway, dark, dark ,dark.

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
Who knows.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1977 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
It shows how reliant we are on electricity and how quickly and easily it can all fall apart. it is said that we are only a few days away at a time from complete chaos and anarchy. What would NYC have been like if the blackout had lasted a much longer time. Look what happened to New Orleans. A huge US tragedy .

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
I was a Canadian living in a hotel and able to return to Canada at the end of our stay. Performances resumed the next night.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
Any large catastrophe should make us think long and hard but people have short memories and life goes on.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
No

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Became less reliant

Cite as: Vanessa Harwood, Story #2183, The Blackout History Project, 17 October 2010, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/2183/>.
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