safety in venues : after terror, where do we go from here?

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After the appalling terror attack in Manchester gig going has changed for ever.

No longer a safe space to get lost in your dreams our world has been impinged on by terrorists but what is the appropriate response? It’s tempting to put our heads in the sand and hope for the best but apart from music being able to reach out to everyone including lost souls there is also a practical side of having to try our best to make sure these attacks are at least harder to commit.

In the the past few weeks I have been to many gigs and this response has been very varied. Some venues in Manchester has seen the security really ramped up with a really efficient search system where every punter arriving at the venue is patted down in a civil and actually quite jocular manner. A new kind of bonding, which instead of creating confusion and tension has added to the gig experience proving that it is possible to have security with a smile and a chance to bring people together. Add to this a new found respect for the security from the music fan who realises that many of the people on the door and in the venue are working for your safety unlike in the seventies when the gorillas would go out of their way to attack the music fans. The modern security are a different breed and the bond between fan and security is crucial if we are to go forward from here. The same venue also searches all band members and crew and guitar and music cases which is important as well for security reasons but also to create an even keel.These measures may not stop a determined lunatic but it’s a start and will become part of the future gig experience and we need to make it efficient and fun if possible.

And yet I’ve been to venues in london where it feels like nothing has changed and there were no searches at all. I realise that getting searched is not the ideal start to a night out but we are in a different time zone now. There was once a time when you could just walk onto a plane with zero searches but that security become part of modern life – will gigs go the same way? how much security do you want? how responsible do we have to be to each other? should bags and rucksacks be banned from venues? should we look at trying to prevent bottlenecks on doors and queues down the streets leaving people exposed? music and audience is already great community but should we consciously create an even bigger sense of community between the fans and also the security – all working together to look after each other – can we do all this and still have the sense of wild abandonment and fun that is key to the gig experience.

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