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Thoughts from Cuckoo HQ
Mar 16

Don't Stand Up And Dance If You're In A Seat At A Gig

I see this every time I'm at a gig. People who bought seated tickets insist on standing up and dancing. Don't do that. It's ignorant, inconsiderate and unsafe.

At most gigs where dancing will be done, you have a choice between buying standing tickets or seated tickets. If you plan on dancing then you should buy a standing ticket. It's quite simple.

Do not buy a seated ticket it you intend on standing up and dancing when you should be sitting down. 

I've been meaning to write this post for a while and then I recently saw this tweet from Jim Corr. He's in a band with his sisters and they played a gig where it seems security staff were asking people to stay in their seats, rather than dance. 

There are a variety of reasons you shouldn't do this. I've split them into simple ones and somewhat more complex ones below.

For the record, I'd argue the more complex ones aren't that complex and that any decent, conscientious person will understand them easily and likely already be aware of them.

The simple reasons

  1. You're blocking other people's view of the gig. Other people behind you and around you paid for seated tickets so they could stay seated and enjoy the gig. They don't want to be looking at your arse or back or having to crane their neck around you to catch a glimpse of the gig they paid good money to see. 
  2. You'll cause unnecessary hassle. I've seen arguments arise from this situation multiple times. Those whose view is being blocked take exception to it and make their frustration known. Those blocking the view tend not to react kindly and stupidity ensues. Sometimes there are punches. Sometimes there are cross words. Sometimes there is tutting and eye-rolling. At ALL times, it's unnecessary. 
  3. You're wasting the staff's time. Following on from the 2 points above, quite often staff need to intervene and help resolve the situation. Even before that, you'll often see staff persistently have to speak to the same people to ask them to stop standing up when they should be seated. 
  4. You're being ignorant and inconsiderate. Come on. You're probably a decent person and perhaps just haven't considered the effect of your decision. Or maybe you're a prick. Either way, you're being highly inconsiderate to those other people around you. Play nice. 

The complex reason are all related to YOUR safety and the safety of everyone at the gig.

The more complex reasons

  1. The staff have more to be doing. Consider point 3 above. While the staff are having to spend time dealing with you they may NOT be doing what they SHOULD be doing - monitoring the crowd, looking for safety issues, being located in their position in the event of an emergency evacuation. 
  2. You're compromising the venue design. A lot of time and money is spent on designing venues so they are safe. Seated areas are designed differently to standing areas with the key difference being that one of the key design assumptions is that people will be sitting down, save when moving to and from their seats. That assumption informs every other design and safety imperative from design to build. 
  3. You're putting yourself and everyone around you at risk. Consider a gig where you're up dancing instead of sitting down. The people in the row behind you do the same, as do the people behind them. They've little choice, if they want to see the gig, as you're blocking their view if they sit down. Now, imagine one of them isn't as great a dancer as you are, has two left feet and had 8 pints already. He loses his balance, topples forward, hits the people behind you, they hit you, you topple forward. . . you see my point? In this situation the seats you should be sitting on become a greater hazard than they are if everyone is sitting and you'll get hurt. As will others. 

The science

I'm currently studying an MSc in Crowd Safety & Risk Analysis and recently we looked at progressive crowd collapses, which is pretty much what I've described in point 3 above. In particular, we looked at 'persistent standing' issues where people are standing when they should be sitting down. 

I'm working with simulation software that allows me to change multiple variables in order to see how they impact the collapse. I can alter people's heights, centre of balance, the seat depths, heights, gaps between them and a whole lot more. The more I watch all these little simulated people get hurt the more annoyed I get. 

The bottom line

Sit down if you've paid for a seat. Don't be so selfish. 

Think about the effect you're having on others. 

And if that doesn't make you sit down then, take it from me, by standing up you're making things unsafe for yourself and everyone else. 

February 5, 2023, 11:59 pm

Sitting at a rock concert is one step nearer the grave. Buy the DVD, don’t clutter the venue with your Zimmer frame.

March 29, 2022, 08:17 pm

You all that insist on sitting, including this stupid as$ author are lame af. Sit on your own couch in your home...no one, including the artist want you lame as$ energy. “If you didn’t get floor seats then respect the seating.” Fk you all if you don’t like what someone does in their own personal space but a box then...fk losers....from a DJ preform who just played at ultra.

June 16, 2020, 05:46 pm

I will always stand and dance at concerts. If it's not high energy music I won't go. I'm paying $1,000 front row center to matchbox 20 in September 2020 and I not only love their music but I feel music in me that I need to stand and move too. For that kind of money I feel the right to get up and dance as I also feel the band would expect it. I personally think it's rude to the performer just sitting. If your going to a concert that is rock or high energy pop expect stand up dancing or don't go.

March 7, 2019, 08:24 pm

AT the Elton John concert in Boise Idaho in January 2019, one dude in our whole section stood up the whole time, He was directly in front of me, totally blocking my view. It was so rude. I have a photo, but I don't see a way to share.

November 25, 2018, 04:28 am

I dont know what kinda concerts the author is attending, but as a sound engineer I visit venues and attend concerts for a living. I find it rude to NOT STAND. I've seen (rock) artist themselves chastise people seated during the show. I understand where some of you are coming from in you paid for a seat, and are disappointed everyone isnt sitting but thats just how it is at a high energy show. If you want to truely sit, youll need to be front row, or in your own box, or stick to theater/symphony shows.

November 6, 2018, 10:49 pm

I am hearing justifications here "i could not get a ticket in the standing area" etc.. and while i understand that but the reality ad mentioned correctly in the post is that it inconsiderate.
I pay extra money ((sometimes double) to sit and watch the show.. that's how I enjoy the shows these days.
I went to a U2 concert and had an issue with my foot, i could not stand for long periods.. selfish people stood and so let's could see, did the same leaving me watch the show on the big screen .. what a waste.
To respond to 1 comment.. if you can't buy a standing ticket then either don't go or get a seat and respect it is a seated zone where most people want to sit and enjoy.
At the end of the day, standing/dancing in a seated zone at a concert is selfish, disrespectful and down right rude no matter how you choose to justify it. It's as as wrong as when i have seen groups of people sitting down in the middle of the dance floor at a fave

October 20, 2018, 03:22 am

I have been to three concerts in my life. My first was Jonas Brothers and I had lower level seat tickets. Everyone still stood and danced and waved their arms around. Next I was to Trans-Siberian Orchestra, again lower level seats but everyone sat down and watched. Then most recently I went to Twenty One Pilots and again had lower level seats and everyone stood and danced and waved their arms. It just depends on what kind of concert it is. If no one else is standing, best bet is to not stand. But if everyone else is standing, then you probably don't want to be the one sitting and not have a view.

October 12, 2018, 07:57 pm

I'm 70 and CANT stand for periods of time. Paid very good money to be in the 5th row at a Styx concert in a THEATRE. The minute the boys hit the stage everybody stood up and remained standing for the entire concert. Might as well remove the chairs and have a free for all. I have not and will not return.

Bob G
September 16, 2018, 06:04 pm

They’re called “seats” for a reason. It’s a space that was meant to be sat in. There are appropriate times to stand, ovations and such. Can’t you “rock” and “groove” in a seated position? I researched this topic in a certain venue’s code of conduct and it states, “you are not allowed to do anything to block the view of other patrons”. If you want to stand and dance, go to a dance.

September 10, 2018, 11:30 am

Probably most of the seated folk wanted to get standing tickets but they always sell out quickly. If you want to sit quietly then maybe a rock concert isn't for you? Perhaps the theatre may be more suitable? I have no issue with people having a great time despite not being able to get standing tickets.

August 5, 2018, 02:48 pm

What an incredibly short-sighted article. At a Metallica concert I wasn't able to buy a ticket for the arena since they sold out in 5 minutes. So I had to buy a seated ticket. Luckily for me, everyone 'stood' in their seats. Imagine 20,000 " headbangers" solemnly sitting at this concert as if they were going to an opera. Then when I went to Iron Maiden, it was the exact opposite. People got mad that I got up (I was the only fan singing along among the crowd...). This is the same with football stadiums...if people want to stand they'll stand. If you want to sit, then sit. And if someone stands in front of you, no one's forcing you to stay seated!

May 28, 2018, 10:27 pm

Totally agree. I'm just wondering whether to book a concert in a small playhouse and concerned that people will stand and dance. If they do I will feel really angry. If I can't see the stage because then I might as well put a CD on and listen to music at home than waste my money. Surely people who get the urge to dance can control themselves and still enjoy the concert rather than spoil the concert for those behind. I appreciate some people might enjoy it more if they can dance but if it's at the expense of someone else's enjoyment, it's being unreasonable. I once suffered the selfishness of one guy who at a rock concert decided to stand up and head bang right in front of me. I didn't say anything as if someone is going to be so selfish like that then I wouldn't be able to reason with them. Security finally made him sit down after everyone around me was complaining.

Charlie Hopkins
March 16, 2018, 06:45 am

But what if the diffeence between seated and Genral admission is about 100 bucks more? I work 50 hours a week i go to a concert to lose myself in the energy. Not go to sit and eat popcorn if i was a movie theater. Id watch live shows online if i wanted to do that. Depending on the show people should know what is to be expected

February 2, 2018, 08:13 pm

I agree with Julez no matter what people are going to end up standing. Also, standing is not always an option for people petite in stature there's no point in being in the pit if you're staring at everyone's backs the entire show. Venues definitely need to be designed with everyone in mind that's the issue! Handicap, elderly, short people problems, etc.

January 5, 2018, 02:14 pm

What if you couldn't get a standing ticket and a seated was the only option? And the music is music that calls to be danced to? Should I not be enjoy to myself too?

December 8, 2016, 04:35 pm

Hi Adam. Thanks for your comment. Your experience is the perfect example of the type of situation experienced regularly and why I wrote the post. I know it seems like party-pooping to those who will happily stand up and block people's view but it has impacts. That's the bottom line. Thanks for sharing.

December 8, 2016, 03:51 pm

I was at a recent Paul Simon gig, great seats, not at all cheap, 2nd row of the circle. The guy in front of me would energetically nod and sway whilst remaining seated. Fair enough although he did occasionally block my view. Then late on he stood up and danced for several minutes. His wife joined in. They were the only dancers in the circle. I said to my friend, "just beyond that awful checked shirt of his is the living legend that is Paul ff-ing Simon". She laughed. No doubt the dancing couple are nice people. It just baffles me how it doesn't occur to presumably decent people that their actions are going to have a big impact on others. During the several minutes I'm no longer in the moment, instead I'm mulling over whether to ask them to sit down. I actually decided not to say anything because I wanted to avoid a possible awkward encounter and I didn't want to spoil their evening. On reflection they probably didn't deserve that courtesy.

March 29, 2016, 07:58 pm

Hi Ruth. Thanks for the comment. You make a very valid point. I didn't even venture down the disabled route as I'm working on another post along those lines but I agree. I've seen that happen at countless gigs. Again, I do not believe people do it out of malice. I just think they don't think - if that makes sense? Mark

March 24, 2016, 08:47 pm

An interesting article. Many disabled people cannot stand and pay for a seat or wheelchair user space and expect to see the event. Instead, people stand in front of them and all they see is someone's back .... It happens at gigs and it happens at sports events. Unfortunately the musicians often encourage everyone to stand up and dance without consideration for those who may not be able to .... or want to.

March 22, 2016, 11:59 am

Hi Mark. Thanks for your comment. I think you're right, in that enforcing a policy whereby you insist people sit is nigh on a hiding to nothing. Designing venues differently in the future could well be an option. The issue really is that venues are currently designed with all those people seated and it's unrealistic in most cases to expect anything structurally or procedurally to be done to make them safe (to within acceptable build environment parameters) enough to allow people stand when they should be seated. We hope that some people may consider the effects of their standing and may alter their behaviour. Maybe. Mark

Mark Anderson
March 22, 2016, 01:22 am

I think that you are looking at it all wrong I believe that you should be building in safety factors for this occurrence rather than requesting that they be seated. You would never have a standing ovation otherwise and that is cruel on the people you are there to see.

March 21, 2016, 10:19 pm

Hi Paul. Fully take your point. I've been there. Ejecting people up or down steep stadium / arena steps is not what you want to be doing. The reality is very few people will get ejected for standing when they should be sitting down. Hopefully this post may give some concert-goers pause to consider the consequences of standing and they may not do it. Maybe.

March 21, 2016, 10:16 pm

Hi Julez. Thanks for your comment. It's not a case of being a party pooper. This post, as with all our posts, is designed to make people think. I'm pretty sure the majority of concert-goers don't consider the impact their standing is having on those around them and their safety. I've no doubt people will continue to stand. Perhaps some will have had their eyes opened to why they shouldn't. Cheers.

Paul Gallagher
March 21, 2016, 10:07 pm

It's just what do you do if they refuse to sit down as ejecting can become very messy.

March 21, 2016, 08:08 pm

Party pooper. People will continue to stand at fun concerts. 100%.

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