PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Fans from all corners of New York City were hoping to line up outside the Barclays Center on Sunday, some to score tickets and others to spot stars at MTV's Video Music Awards.
But by mid-afternoon it was clear to many that this party was not going to look like some VMAs, where fans could crowd within view of the police pens that protect glitterati as they strut the red carpet.
Instead, police officers from the NYPD began setting up barricades at intersections around the arena midday and shooing away fans who came to street-stalk their favorite musical celebrities.
"Move along," an officer told a small crowd gathering at Bergen Street and Flatbush Avenue, a full block away from the red carpet. Locals who live in the surrounding area of Brooklyn were advised to carry I.D. in order walk on certain streets behind the arena on Sunday, but groups of fans who hoped to see musicians coming to the event were periodically chased off by police and left to assemble at different intersections on the opposite side of the arena of where the action was.
A red carpet, set up on Dean Street near Flatbush Avenue, was completely invisible to many non-ticketed fans and the general public who were mainly cordoned in a pen at the Best Buy on Atlantic Avenue between Fort Greene Place and Sixth Avenue.
Another penned area, at Sixth Avenue and Bergen Street, gave a small group of fans a distant peek at the carpet, but it was still a full city block away.
"Obviously they can't let everyone in for security reasons, but we can't see anything at all," said Donna Hall, 28, who came from Queens. "I've been out here with my friends since 3 p.m. and we've been trying to find the best vantage point possible, but we settled here because at least we could see a glimpse of the red carpet.
"I felt like they brought the VMAs to Brooklyn to have this urban feeling, but there's a level of exclusivity that makes it feel almost like we're not really here. So that part is kind of sad."
She said the event, which was advertised with the tagline "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" — a reference to a Beastie Boys lyric — was one she had been thrilled about, and that she was on several ticket waitlists.
"We still have hope that it will be worth it," Hall said. She said it appeared some gawkers were allowed near the red carpet, but they seemed to have privileged access and she and her friends couldn't even get near that gate.
An NYPD spokesman could not say if that was the only place non-ticketholders could stand or if police were ordered to not stage pens anywhere near the red carpet. "I can't confirm any information as to the detail at this time," the spokesperson said. "We can't specify or determine where we're going to put people in advance."
Earlier in the day, fans like Melissa Ramirez, 19, who had trekked to the Barclays Center from the Bronx after a 6 a.m. wake-up had been lined up outside without a problem until police began to break up the queue around 12:30 p.m.
"My mom was like, 'You're nuts' and I was like 'It's worth it," she said as she waited behind metal barriers joined by nearly 30 other die-hard fans who arrived about 12 hours early for the 9 p.m. show.
A pre-show was rumored to be set for 8 p.m. featuring a live outdoor concert on the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, blasting "concert-loud" music outside of the arena, according to the watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report. An MTV spokesperson at the center, who denied knowing about a pre-show outside, said Sunday that may have been mistaken for a concert by Katy Perry under the Brooklyn Bridge that would stream live during the show as a finale.
Argy Hernandez, 38, came out from Brooklyn just for Lady Gaga. "I'm excited, really, really excited. We've been waiting for more than a month," Hernandez said.
The VMAs usually take place in Los Angeles and, like many people waiting in line, Hernandez was pleased that her city was playing host. "I'm glad the VMAs are here because I live here," she said.
Airik Henderson, 20, agreed, saying he wasn't going to miss Gaga again. "She's making her huge comeback and I have to see it. The VMAs haven't been to New York since 2009, when she first performed, and that was the most iconic live performance in history."
Michael Brown, 15, from Staten Island, was waiting in line with his childhood friend Claudette Waxman, 17, from Brooklyn, in hopes of getting in at the last minute.
"I've been planning this for months. It was nothing in particular, just being here and hoping to get tickets," said Brown. He said he tried to score tickets online at 9 a.m. on the day they were released.
"I refreshed Ticketmaster at 9:02 a.m. and there was nothing," said Brown.
"Our luck isn't in tickets," laughed his line-buddy Claudette, who was hoping to catch a glimpse of British boy-band One Direction.