Let me take you back to a festival last year. As the music came to a phenomenal close, still high from the unbelievable day, we made our way to the Exit. Everyone was in good spirits, laughing and joking, the final warm bottle of overpriced water being passed between seven people. We were still in a hazey bubble of post-festival euphoria when we joined the Taxi queue which was already around 100 people long and we began to wait. and wait.. and wait.
As the comedown kicked in and the temperature dropped, It soon became apparent that the Taxis were few and far between. An obscure bus travelling to somewhere near a hotel a few miles away arrived demanding £20 per person to take revellers home, with many so desperate they obliged. My group continued to wait and after 4 hours we caught a taxi and eventually arrived home at 2am. They hadn’t banked on so many people needing taxis, a lady managing security told me, as the event was oversold by a few thousand. I also have absolutely no doubt that the promoters called this fun bus in at the last minute due to the masses of people still waiting for a cab home.
The taxi-queue-of-doom as it is now called amongst my group is something I’ve experienced that is a result of poor organisation, overselling and under-estimating. Luckily our safety wasn’t REALLY compromised. However, the same for other events I’ve attended sadly cannot be said.
I attended another festival last year where ‘Shitshow’ isn’t even a strong enough term to describe the ordeal me and my friends paid the sum of £50 each to experience. People queued for 5 hours plus to get inside, some people didn’t get inside at all and others were turned away at the door for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Luckily, my friends pulled some strings and it took us just over an hour to get in. We attempted the bar once, queued for an hour for four bottles of water for the next in line to be informed they had sold out – three hours before the event finished. Some of the best Facebook reviews included “Hell is probably less crowded than that festival was”, “it was like cattle going for slaughter”, “I would rather have gone to spoons and listened to Patrick Topping on my phone” and my personal favourite – “What an absolute bag of wank. Only saw it on Snapchat but hated it”.
Besides our general wellbeing compromised just by being at this event, the sound was fucking terrible. Stages crammed into a site where there wasn't really room for half the people there to move. Never have I attended a festival where no matter which stage you're at, you can hear the music coming from every other on the site. I don't even want to touch on the toilets. The knock on effects of overselling tickets is pretty much an endless list of dangerous and uncomfortable situations.
Definitely the most important knock-on of all, though, is the health and safety of the crowds. Overselling by no less than 3000 tickets for a 12,000 capacity festival is greed and sadly it doesn’t just apply to festivals either. I went to a club in the UK where people were being dragged from the crowd – with one single fire escape for hundreds of people. My friend turned to me and in her paranoid but somehow elated frenzy said: “If there is a fire in here, we will all die”. She wasn’t wrong.
I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to dread festivals and clubs. I dread the long queues, I dread the crush of people due to absolute disregard for anyone attending's safety, I miss when there was room to breathe and dance. I understand the events are getting more popular – but does this mean they should become unsafe? I would prefer tenfold to pay double the price for the experience I expect to have when I attend an event with an incredible lineup – a setting equally as incredible.
It’s beyond me how promoters and venues are getting away with this in a world where dance music is under maybe the worst scrutiny it's received in recent years, for drug association and the growing figure of young people dying in clubs and at festivals. Saying this, there are clubs and promoters who do it properly. I have been to some absolutely unbelievable shows and festivals this year – organised down to a tee. XOYO, Printworks, Fabric, Elrow Town, Ministry of Sound, Taste The Punch, Junction 2. These are all pretty much flawless examples of how to run an event, festival or a venue. However, it IS a minority – and the majority are not safe. In this day and age, I don’t expect to see a DJ apologising on Twitter post gig for the sheer amount of bodies they watched desperately trying to enjoy their set.