Georgina Guedes

Big Concerts, rescue me!

2013-02-07 11:13

Georgina Guedes

I am standing, holding hands tightly with my best friend on one side, my husband on the other. My friend is holding her husband's hand in the same panicked grip. Our husbands make a barrier on either side of us, cushioning us from the shoving of the crowd, but sometimes squashing us like a compacter as the crowds behind or in front surge in a mass of stinky, furious humanity.

People are drunk, confused, pissed off. There's the stench and stickiness of vomit and spilt beer on the floor. Suddenly, the mass contorts and my husband isn't behind me anymore. I tighten my grasp on his receding hand, but I'm not sure this is such a good idea as my arm twists, and two agro people ram themselves against my bridge to my husband. I know that if I let go in this swirling, surging mass, I'll never find him again.

Suddenly, the two people realise that they're trying to separate us, and lean back into the masses to allow my husband to rejoin me. As we are jostled from all sides, a group of shaken people push their way back past us, their motion reminiscent of a snake regurgitating its prey. "It's hell in there," they say. "It's not worth it. Go back."

Rising panic

This is pretty much what I'm thinking, and my friend and I and our husbands all look at each other in horror. I feel the panic starting to rise. People are pushing. We can't see ahead or behind us. We are on a staircase. I can barely breathe. All it takes is one person to lose their footing, or shove someone too aggressively and the whole hot, sticky, stinking mass of people would tumble and crush us.

I take a couple of deep breaths of putrid air. We decide to keep going, only because it's just as difficult to turn back. Suddenly, we emerge from the stairwell onto a walkway. We're closer to the field now, and while the crowd hasn't thinned, the air is clear. Eventually, we make it onto the field. By now, we need the loo, we're thirsty (from dry-mouthed panic) and we don't have a thing to drink. There is no way we're fighting our way back out of this thing.

We were at the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at Soccer City. The concert was great (Anthony Kedis is looking old, hey), the organisation was not. As far as I can make out, Soccer City has entrances A through N - that's 14. There were massive queues at every entrance. Then, once you were in, you had to go to one of only two queues elsewhere in the stadium to get your wristband. There were no queue management, no signs and no barriers - just a seething mass of confused people.

What went wrong?

Half of the congestion was caused by the fact that people didn't understand that they needed to get wristbands. They were inside the stadium. They tried to get onto the field. They were turned back. The people turning them back couldn't tell them where to go. The rest of the crowd was also trying to get onto the field. There was no one anywhere to ask.

I have been to a few concerts in my day. They're not all beautifully organised, but I've never felt the sheer terror I did at this concert. Which is why, when I hear Big Concerts denying chaos at the show, it makes me sick. The management was a disaster. Calling newspaper reports sensationalist is not addressing the problem.

Something went very wrong with the organisation and Big Concerts’ ability to handle it. I can think of about ten different ways that the concert security could have been improved. I did not feel safe, and my reasons for feeling that way were sound. I believe that it is only through good fortune, and not through any administrative efforts that nobody died (this time) at this Big Concert.

As a concertgoer - essentially a customer of Big Concerts - I was afraid while I was in their care. It would help if they said something like "We are investigating ways to improve crowd control and queuing systems." Instead they've written it off as "the ordinary course of business'. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that no amount of Chili Peppers can counteract. 

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

Send your comments to Georgina

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.



- News24

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
28 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Mind power dominates and can help you to uncover things from a deeper level, but it can also create entanglements if you let your...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.