Sunshine's Top 10 Rules for Proper Concert Etiquette

I can’t think of many things better than enjoying a live show from one of your favorite bands and according to Billboard, most people would agree as Americans spent over $25 Billion in concert going activities in 2016. However, we know that going to see a show at the local venue isn’t always a pleasant experience, so to combat that, here are my Top 10 Rules for attending concerts.

1. Plan out your concert going attire.

This seems simple but more thought needs to go into this than you think. Are you going to be sitting or standing? Is it an outdoor venue or indoor venue? Will you be jammed packed with other people or will you have some space? These things matter and let’s be real, you can dress to impress your date or you can dress for the show you are attending. If you want to rock those heels at a post-hardcore show, be my guest, but know what you are getting into. My favorite venue is a 750 person, indoor space, where it gets pretty toasty even in the winter. So you’ll see me wearing shorts with an 8 inch inseam to give me plenty of mobility and also keep me cool. I only take the keys that I need, my ID, and maybe my phone. Give me my favorite short sleeve button up and a pair of vans and I am ready to go. It’s intentional. In summation, know where you are going and dress accordingly. .

2.  Know when to sing along.

Having an awareness of when to sing along is important. Really search for the cues given by the band. Examples of this might be when they point the microphone at the crowd, when they yell lyrics at the crowd away from the microphone, or when they give you the “I can’t hear you” hand gesture. These would all be acceptable times to sing along and normally take place during upbeat musical numbers. Ballads are a little tougher to decipher. Sometimes bands will do well known songs acoustically and encourage the crowd to sing with them. Singers will normally give a heads up on this by giving similar cues for the crowd to join in. This can be done with a subtle head nod and smile.  If the singer doesn’t give any cues, you can sing to yourself softly or mouth the words without making any noise. You have to realize that the person in front of you can hear you and you’re normally not on key, so please refrain from the concert karaoke.

3. If you want to dance, then dance.

Concerts were made for moving and dancing and having a blast. Don’t let the world shame you into not being the person you were meant to be. Let the people throw weird looks your way. We are most judgemental in others about the things we fear in ourselves. That couple standing near you is only staring because they wish they had your confidence and maybe you can be the one to show them it’s okay to dance like nobody's watching. Jam on, tiny dancer!  Now some of you will tell me that “Some shows aren’t meant for dancing” and I will tell you that “I agree and those shows normally have seats.”

Need a few new moves to add to your repertoire? * 

4. Your personal space issues are exactly that.

I watched a grown adult signal for security last night because him and his lady friend were lightly bumped into by a teenage girl enjoying the show. The security guard ignored the man’s request to remove her from the vicinity, because that man was being severely silly. Some people don’t like being touched by strangers. That is totally okay, but be aware that when you purchase your ticket for a standing room show, you are putting yourself in that situation. Hundreds of people are crammed into a venue and you chose to be there. Either find a space to have to yourself near the sides or the back or be ready to embrace your new friends, dance along, sing along, and have fun. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Most people aren’t bumping into you to be an asshole. Most people aren’t trying to ruin your night. People are looking to dance and move and you signed up for that when purchasing your ticket. If you don’t want to dance you can check out your favorite band on The Youtube.

(I also find it important to make sure people understand the difference between incidental contact and unwanted advances. Concert crowds are not an excuse to grope your fellow concert goer. That is never called for and it is not okay. If you see anyone making unwanted advances to another person, get security, and make it clear that this type of behavior is never acceptable.)   

5. Chose where you stand wisely.

Each venue has invisible lines drawn on the floor and whether the owners will tell you this or not, each line signifies the type of activity that takes place in the designated area.

 Area 1: The first few standing rows closest to the stage.

  • These are the rows for the folks who got there as the doors open. They plan on cramming as close as possible so that they can see everything and hopefully get a low five from a singer and snag a pick from a guitarist. These people will sing their lungs out and are true fans. They know they will get a little squished at show time but they are prepared. Respect these people.

Area 2: The next 5-10 standing rows

  • These are the rows for those who plan on moving around a good bit. This may be in the form of a moshpit or in just general dancing. The people in this section get a bad reputation for being inconsiderate but most of them are incredibly kind. Know that if you are in this section, you might get bumped, and that is okay, because if they knock you over, know that they will pick you back up and say “sorry.” This is not the area for you to stand if you don’t want to touch others. If you choose to stand here you are giving a signal that you are okay to be the edge and give a nudge back when people bounce into you. You are telling folks that you are willing to catch a crowd surfer. If you are not willing to do these things, please move to Area 3.  

Area 3:

  • This is the  rest of the venue including the sides of area 2 and everything behind. This is for the folks who don’t necessarily want to dance but are still looking for an enjoyable concert going experience. This area normally has dibs on getting merch first and has easiest access to the bar and bathroom. Sure, you are a little bit further from the stage, but you have to weigh your options and make the choice that is best for you.

Now I know what some of you are thinking because I see it at shows all the time. “I don’t want to dance but I’m going to stand in Area 2.” I get this because Area 2 arguably has the best view in the house. You are more than welcome to stand in that space but I need to ask you a question in response. What are your thoughts about the person who drives under the speed limit in the passing lane? You can be that person, but know the perception that gives off.

Now if you are at a seated venue, these rules don’t really apply. That being said be aware of when it is okay to stand or not in those settings. Read the social cues given off by the audience and performing artist.

6. It is not the time to get plastered.

You want to kick back with a few beers and loosen up? Do it to it, Lars. That being said, not only can being incredibly drunk in a concert setting be distracting and annoying, but it can also be dangerous. It’s hot, you’re dehydrated, and most likely moving around a good bit.. It is not uncommon to witness someone pass out mid-show. Why pay to go to a show that you’re not going to remember? Understand your limits and do not pass them.



7. Just because someone is taller than you, doesn’t mean you deserve to be closer than them.

It is an unrealistic expectation to assume we are going to organize the audience from shortest to tallest and venues are designed to give multiple points of view. If someone is taller than you, that is a bummer, but you had the ability to get to the show earlier with all the kids in Area 1 and you chose not to. So don’t make passive aggressive comments under your breathe, Deborah, because the guy in front of you is not trying to block you and ruin your day. Just move 8  inches to the left or right and enjoy the show.

Want the tall guy's perspective?* Click Here (Credit: Will Oliver)

8. It is sometimes acceptable to move closer in front of others.

This is a touchy subject, but there are times that it is appropriate. It is acceptable to make moves from area to area but only if you are willing to abide by the rules of that area. If you go to restroom or to get a drink, it is acceptable to make moves back to your original location. It is easy to be upset with people when they make moves to the front but understand that most of the time you have a lot of people cramming into a space and if you don’t move to fill the gaps, someone else will.

9. We are all on the same team here.

Though the way we do it may differ from person to person, we are all trying to enjoy the show. So treat people with respect and kindness. If someone falls over, pick them up. If you find glasses, keys, or a phone on the ground, raise it high in the air so that it is more visible to the individual that lost it. Be kind and have fun. Shows are more enjoyable when we all understand that we are all in this together, high school musical style*.



10. You get 1 video on your phone and then put it away.

As I said before, we are all in this together, and we all want to remember that wonderful night we had, but once you get your 1 video, please put your phone away. No one bought a ticket to watch the show through your screen as you hold it up in front of the faces of others to record for 3 minutes and 17 seconds. I also have to admit that I just don’t understand why people record each song of the set. Why buy a ticket at that point?  Also, if you do decide to break this rule, don’t get mad at others when you get bumped and drop your phone and crack your screen. Every minute you hold up your phone is another minute that it might get damaged. So for  your phone’s own good, snag your 30 seconds of the set so you can post it on Instagram to make your friends jealous and then put your mobile away.

Follow these rules and your concert going experience should be fantastic. I’ll see you at the next show...

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