A Pilgrimage to Paisley Park

Like many fair-weather Prince fans, I was shock when his death flash across the television as “Breaking News”.  I had just missed the opportunity to see him perform at the 2014 Essence Music Festival due to the untimely passing of my father.  However, memories of being introduced to royal one relished in my mind as my mother was one of the most loyal Prince fan’s I had ever come to know.  As a matter of fact, she was so loyal she even named our first family pet, a Doberman Pinscher after him.  I can remember going to see Purple Rain in elementary school, covering our eyes to the naughty parts, but watching as she jammed in her seat and later down the aisles as he electrified the screen with his awesome dance moves and signature splits in gem-studded four-inch heels.  Throughout the years, she would retreat to her red crates to play his albums and tapes on a boombox in the living room.  A few years ago she learned of an all Prince radio station on Pandora which was later downloaded and enjoyed from IPOD sound system.  It’s moments like these and my own personal love for his music, performances and persons, I fell in love with “The Artist”.  I watched on television as many began to crowd his property and placed items on a gate surrounding his home.  I wanted to be apart of that commemoration.

Not soon after viewing and listening to fans all over the world pay their last respects, I took the five-hour drive up to Minnesota, vowing to return, once his home became a museum. To my dismay, the decision to transform and open as a tourist attraction came six months later and in keeping with my promise, I set off on my pilgrimage to Paisley Park.

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Paisley Park is located in Chanhassen, Minnesota, surrounded by factories and industrial offices.  On the outside, the building looks like a marble pearl correctional facility, adding to the fact that Prince was truly original or just weird.  The museum offers four packages, ranging from $39.00 Standard to $160.00 VIP and can only be purchased online.  I scheduled my tour for the next day and decided to spend the rest of the evening exploring the city Prince had grown to love and refused to leave.

One of the first stops on my journey was to the legendary “1st Avenue” nightclub, 45 minutes away Chanhassen.  The area where the club is located just around the corner from the Minnesota Twins stadium.  There were countless sports bars, coffee shops and chic boutiques enough to satisfy the common tourist.

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Next stop was to two of the many eateries Prince loved to frequent, “World Street Kitchen”. An Asian fused vegan cafe primarily, but does accommodate non-vegans on special request.  The average check for two ranges between $27.00-$40.00, depending on which dish you choose. Just across the dining room, adjacent to WSK is Milk Jam Creamy. They actually offer a special “Raspberry Beret “ topping for sundaes, I opted for the deep down cocoa cone  instead.

The next day, I arrived for my tour, being greeted by a guard who lead me to a cue with the rest of the patrons waiting to start the excursion that last 90 minutes.  One of the greatest displeasure of this experience were the NO PHOTOS OR PHONES policy,  The clerks actually ask to remove any recording devices and have you placed them in a sealed security pouch until the end of the tour.

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Just through the foyer your greeted with the loving sounds of white doves accompany by Prince Ballads streaming through the surround sound system.  Our tour guide was awesome, she silenced the room as we were informed of Prince ashes encased just above our heads in an urn designed in a replica of his home.  This was very awkward for me, rarely had I ever came close to a celebrity alive or dead, but to pay respect to Prince ashes in his home was surreal.  Afterwards, we were led through picturesque rooms showcasing his artistic abilities and photogenic stances, all we’ve seen before if you followed his career.  What was not shown, at least not now, was memories of  his personal or home life.  Even in death, that part my remain a mystery to the masses.  All of his awards, costumes and instruments were encased and his restaurant styled kitchen glass doors were locked.  The upper living quarters were off-limits for viewing and the elevator where he died is closed off and covered up.  There is a huge face mural just across from the kitchen where two candles are resting on a holders, many on the tour suspected it to be the lift, of course the topic was never mentioned.  Approaching the leg of  the tour, I got a chance to stand in one of four recording studios and listen to an unnamed unreleased Jazz track Prince was working on before he died. Towards the end, we were walked briefly through his night club, where the likes of Lenny Kravitz and Madonna had once shared that space with him for midnight performances and lastly to the “WOW” room. This room consists of everything relating to Prince’s automobiles, clothing, theme staged setting and even the last piano he played before he passed away.  Although the gift shop offered very little for souvenir collecting, I managed to purchased a couple of bits before leaving the compound.  I enjoyed my journey to Minneapolis and my visit to Paisley Park.  I planned to return later on when his estate his finally settled and more items can become accessible so the public can learn more about the “Artist” we had all grown to love.

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