When the doors of the Palacio de Deportes arena in Madrid opened for the Iron Maiden show two weeks ago, a small group of fans had been camping out in front of the gates for 24 hours. They were young girls all decked out in Iron Maiden shirts and flags. "We slept here with 10 people," they told us about an hour before the doors opened. They were nervous – it was the first time they were going to see the band live.
Meanwhile behind them, Iron Maiden's more senior fans were taking things a bit easier. These Spanish veteran fans met through their Iron Maiden fandom and have been friends for decades – seeing each other only at shows. Before every gig, they come together in front of the arena for a sort of pre-game. They stand around, have a beer and a chat about the band, the concerts they've missed, the leaked set list, what Resurrection Fest festival in Viveiro was like last weekend and how the band members seem to be doing physically during this last tour.
This year's street party – or botellón in Spanish – started small, but as the opening approached it gradually took over the whole of Plaza de Felipe II. Grocery shops that line the square in front of the Arena started to run out of cold beers, but well-prepared fans had brought along ice boxes filled with alcohol.
One couple told us the first Iron Maiden concert they went to was at this very stadium in Madrid, more than 25 years ago. They couldn't count how many times they've seen the band since then. The same can probably be said of the rest of these pre-gamers – they all seemed to be fiercely faithful to their idols, and to take no note of how much Bruce Dickinson looks like your dad these days. Likely, because these guys are your dad.
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