By Kate McBride || News Editor
To many, one of the greatest joys lies amongst sticky floors, achy feet, dim lighting, and collective chants of song lyrics. Live music is certainly one of the most unifying elements of our society; over one-half of the American population (approx. 52 percent) attend concerts each year. There is magic in basking in the happiness of being surrounded by like-minded enjoyers of music and forgetting about the stresses of daily life — even for just a couple of hours. However, we ought to recognize the responsibility that is placed in the hands of each and every concert-goer: crowd safety.
On the night of March 5, 2023, rappers GloRilla and Finesse2tymes performed a gig at the Main Street Armory in Rochester, New York. Following a false-alarm fear of gunshots, attendees flocked to make their way out of the venue — which can hold up to 6,500 occupants. The crowd’s behavior quickly took a hazardous turn, as it began to surge. A large group of people forcing their way to the exits led to many being trampled and violently knocked down — leaving one person dead and nine others seriously injured.
This is a phenomenon with which we are all too familiar. Astroworld, the Seoul Halloween crowd crush, the 1989 Hillsborough disaster — the list sadly goes on and on. Crowd crushes can be a product of ill-informed attendees and settings that operate beyond their capacities. Most of the time, they are avoidable, so here are some tips to keep safe at your next concert or large-scale event:
- Wear shoes and clothing that are unlikely to make you stumble or fall down.
In the event that you do need to move quickly to remove yourself from the crowd, ensure that your clothing and footwear don’t stand as obstacles to your success in doing so. Remember: comfort over style. In most large crowd settings, it is unlikely that your level of fashion will be a dealbreaker in the amount of fun you’ll have at the event. It is far wiser to dress comfortably and maintain the ability to move freely, rather than to have excess style and be tripped up in an emergency.
- Stay hydrated both leading up to and during the event…and keep alcohol consumption to a reasonable level.
Even if a crowd surge does not occur, it is vital to remain hydrated throughout these types of events. Standing in a crowd of people naturally leads to the absorption of body heat from those around you — causing you to sweat, thus leading to dehydration. Maximizing your water intake leading up to (and throughout) crowded events is crucial to keep you level-headed and on your feet. The same goes for alcohol consumption — remaining calm and sensible is vital to maximizing one’s safety in a crowd, so keep the alcohol to a minimum.
- Identify the exit points as soon as possible.
In the event of an emergency situation, it is wise to know exactly where the nearest exit is located. If you begin to feel as though people are pushing a bit too close and your ability to move becomes increasingly restrained, remove yourself from the situation. Knowing the location of the exit points allows you to make a graceful departure.
- Keep away from any solid structures or barriers.
Solid structures (like concrete beams and metal barriers) have absolutely zero give; they allow no space to breathe if one is pushed up against them. Keep away from these barricades as best you can — maximizing your breathability is key.
- Establish and maintain your breathing space.
Following up on the previous point, it is vital to ensure that you have as much space to breathe as possible. A rule of thumb is to cross your arms and hold them out in front of you — this will ensure that you will establish enough space from those in front of you to adequately maintain your breath. One of the most dangerous elements of crowd surges is the inability of those within the crowd to maintain enough space to breathe properly. Prioritize this.
- Move with the flow of the crowd.
In the event that the crowd does begin to surge, go with the flow. It is far more dangerous to attempt to move against the crowd, as the likelihood of people falling would drastically increase. If someone does fall down, take a second to help them up. A community spirit could be the difference between people being trampled and everyone making it out of the area safely. Help where you can and move with the group.
Of course, this piece isn’t meant to sway you out of attending any sort of concert or large-scale event. They are an integral part of the human experience. With that being said, we ought to act responsibly throughout these events, as with anything else. Crowd surges are far too common and can be avoided with a collective effort to prioritize safety for all.
Junior Kate McBride is the News Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.