April 21, 2016 / 11:47 PM / 2 years ago

Starstruck reporter recalls surprise encounter with Prince

(Reuters) - After dancing the night away with fellow journalists at Prince’s Paisley Park Studio in Minnesota last summer, a patient few waited into the morning hours for a chance to meet the music icon.

Prince performs during his 'Diamonds and Pearls Tour' at the Earl's Court Arena in London, Britain, June 15, 1992. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Those who stayed risked getting stranded at the sprawling, white-washed complex where Prince was found dead at the age of 57 on Thursday. Many boarded buses back to their hotels to prepare for the next day’s meetings of the National Association of Black Journalists convention.

A few hours passed and then suddenly there he was - standing near the left corner of the dance floor in platform boots, bell-bottom pants and a long shiny top.

Starstruck, I broke out of my trance and waved. He waved back. Seconds later, I heard a woman scream and he was immediately surrounded by the few dozen diehard fans who had stuck around long enough to see him. He gave his thanks and told us all to enjoy ourselves before he disappeared.

The Aug. 8 encounter came after Prince invited NABJ members for a party at his studio complex and home about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Minneapolis. About 650 members attended, dancing in dimly lit halls where projections of videos played on the walls.

Bright pink and purple love seats dotted the rooms, and colored lights bathed the scene as a DJ on a stage played mostly ‘70s and ‘80s music.

Prince took to the stage towards the end of the event to thank everyone for coming to his home and encouraging everyone to support Jay Z’s online streaming service Tidal, where he had moved his music.

Many were disappointed he did not perform, but some lingered for hours - sipping non-alcoholic drinks and snacking on comfort food such as macaroni and cheese - in the hope of crossing paths personally with Prince.

Some of those who had been to previous Prince events warned that if the DJ was still playing music the night was not over yet.

The meeting with the handful of reporters was never recorded because phones and cameras were not allowed at Paisley Park, but those who met Prince Rogers Nelson that night will remember the soft-spoken, welcoming person who opened his home to so many.

Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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