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written by Sam Greenspan

My girlfriend and I venture to a mall at midnight on Black Friday just to see what it’s really like. And I took dumb pictures.

Every year of my life, I’ve spent Thanksgiving in very cold Cleveland, Ohio and faced down Black Friday sales starting at 4 am. This year I’m in not-freezing Los Angeles and the sales started at midnight. My girlfriend and I decided to head to a local mall to witness the hype firsthand.

Here are 11 random scenes from the mall on Black Friday.

1 | Lines like the DMV-meets-Soviet Russia

I tried to get as high as possible (physically in the mall — not on, like, peyote) to capture the scene, but it was almost like trying to show the Grand Canyon in one photo. Basically, in this picture, taken around 11:55 pm, every level and almost every inch of the mall contains a line. The majority of the people in here are waiting for Target and Old Navy (guess they wanted a $4 shirt for $3.50?), but even less popular stores were drawing crowds…

2 | Even the Disney store?

I really thought all the Disney stores went out of business 15 years ago. And this one had a modest line. Maybe these people confused it with Disneyland?

3 | It’s a stampede!

Most stores had fairly regulated lines. Not Macy’s. Around 12:03 am they just opened up this garage door and a mass of humanity flooded inside. We were part of that mass of humanity because my girlfriend wanted to buy boots. My agenda was to take photos of madness; hers was getting a crazy deal. That seems just about right.

4 | Smell this shoe

When we found the shoe department, it was already overrun. This photo is about 300 people in a shoe department designed to handle about 30. There wasn’t even really room to try them on. My girlfriend did not find boots.

5 | Accio Black Friday deals

I strongly suspect this guy did not really go to Hogwarts.

6 | Did Brookstone do something to offend you?

Brookstone was empty. I think it was the only empty national-brand store in the mall. Those two women inside are the two staff members, confused as to why every other store in the mall is jumpin’ jumpin’ and they’re standing there with a warehouse of iPod docks and personal massagers and no customers.

7 | In L.A., apparently Black Friday features concerts from early 2000s pop stars

I didn’t get a good angle from the front, but the girl in the blue and chartreuse is Jojo. Not from K-Ci and JoJo. Jojo from two pop hits seven-ish years ago. And she actually sang those hits while that decent-sized crowd went crazy. (Although I’m not sure the mall fully thought this through — do you really want the lyrics “Get out! Leave! Right now!” reverberating through the mall during the biggest shopping hour of the entire year?)

8 | Even the goth kids love Black Friday

Blackness fills the day.
I am alone.
In pain.
Friday. Of black.
In a wasteland.
Target is too crowded.

9 | Police out in full effect in front of Best Buy

There were only two stores in the mall that still had massive lines at 1 am. Best Buy and Target. Here, outside of Best Buy, FIVE cops stood there to regulate. Which is good, I guess, since word was spreading that there was a fight at a Walmart in the Valley where a woman pepper sprayed a bunch of people over an XBox. But perhaps they were doing TOO good of a job regulating…

10 | Best Buy was NOT filled to capacity

In fact, Best Buy was so carefully regulating its customer flow that it actually appeared to be fairly empty from the outside. I took this picture at 1:00 am, when there were still 500 people in line. It was just like a hot club that keeps a giant line outside and only lets 20 people in. On this night and this night only, Best Buy IS that hot club.

11 | And finally…

“Sam, do NOT put that picture on your website, I am making a really bad face.”