10 Things You Should Never Do at a Concert
Experts say any of these behaviors are bad concert etiquette.
Concert etiquette has become a hot topic these days. With the record-breaking sales of Taylor Swift's Eras Tour and Beyoncé's Renaissance Tour, hundreds of thousands of people have been exposed to some less-than-stellar behavior from their fellow concertgoers—and they're not afraid to call it out. Some have suggested that the break from live music during the pandemic has allowed a surge of new post-COVID attendees who just don't know how to act. But no matter the cause, concerts are a shared space, and it's important to make sure you're not ruining the experience for those around you. Worried you have bad concert etiquette? Read on to learn the 10 things you should never do, according to experts.
Don't bring large signs with you.
Some artists will happily interact with signs that people are holding out in the crowd. In fact, performers like Harry Styles are known for their witty banter with sign-holders. But Jacqueline Whitmore, international etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, recommends that concertgoers don't let the potential for interaction with their favorite singer cause them to ruin other people's experiences.
"Don't bring overly large signs or flags with you," Whitmore says. "These can block the view of fellow concertgoers and can be highly distracting."
Don't block people's views in other ways.
A large sign is not the only way you could end up blocking or distracting the people behind you. Lisa Mirza Grotts, a San Francisco-based etiquette expert, notes that you should also be respectful of your fellow attendees by taking into account other things that may get in their way.
"If you are wearing a hat, remove it; if you have glasses on your forehead, remove them," Grotts suggests. "And if you have a large purse, place it on the floor under your seat."
Don't expect other people to sit the entire time.
When it comes to the choice between sitting or standing, Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas, always advises concertgoers to look behind them when standing to make sure they aren't blocking anyone's view. But Jodi Smith, founder of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, tells Best Life that most people should expect for others to be standing and act accordingly.
"While you may prefer to take in the concert while seated, the fans in front of you may intend to dance the night away. If the majority of the people at the concert are standing, you might as well stand, too," Smith says.
Make sure you're not invading other people's space.
At most concerts, it is appropriate and encouraged for attendees to dance along to the music. While Smith says you should feel free to join in, she also says to make sure you're not invading other people's space when you do.
"Know where your extremities are at all times," she warns. "And avoid spilling anything on others."
Don't get aggressive with people around you.
Not invading other people's space also means not shoving them out of the way to get closer to the stage.
"Concerts can get crowded, but pushing and shoving to get a better view is unacceptable. Such behavior shows a lack of consideration for the comfort and safety of fellow concertgoers," Whitmore says. "Everyone deserves to enjoy the performance without feeling uncomfortable or threatened."
This kind of "disruptive or aggressive behavior" can ruin the experience for everyone around you, according to Whitmore. "No matter if you've been drinking excessively or have a negative attitude, it's crucial to still remain respectful, courteous, and calm during a concert," she notes.
Don't arrive after the concert has started.
While unexpected circumstances can delay you, it's important to try to be on time. In this case, on time actually means early.
"If you have assigned seats, arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes in advance to find your spot before the performance begins," Smith says.
Arriving late can cause problems for other concertgoers who were on time, Grotts points out. "Even if the lights haven't gone down, it's disruptive to make your way to your seat when most people are already seated in your aisle," she explains.
Avoid leaving your seat multiple times during a performance.
You should also arrive early in order to get any drinks and snacks you want before the show starts. According to Smith, it is rude to frequently get up and leave your seat during a concert. Consider that everyone will have to rise out of their own seat to let you pass them.
"Occasionally, it just ends up easier to have everyone exit the row and then file back in the proper order," Smith says, noting that this can disrupt their experience.
So whenever possible, limit your bathroom and drink runs to intermission times, or try to snag a seat on the end of a row if you know you're likely to leave your seat multiple times during a performance.
Don't forget to turn your flash off.
When it comes to taking photos or videos during a show, Whitmore says you should always forgo the flash—no matter how essential you think it is for capturing the best shot.
"Flash photography can be blinding and distracting to both the performers and the audience," she cautions. "It's essential to be mindful of others' enjoyment and refrain from using flash photography during the concert."
Don't record the entire show on your phone.
Flash or not, you shouldn't be holding your phone up to record the whole time, according to Whitmore.
"While capturing a few moments of your favorite songs is acceptable, recording the entire concert on your phone is discourteous to both the artists and those around you," she says. "The constant glow of screens distracts others and obstructs their view of the stage."
Never throw anything on stage.
While there may be exceptions to some of these rules, Gottsman says there is one rule that everyone absolutely must follow at any concert they attend.
"Don't throw anything on the stage," she warns.
This has become something of a trend over the last year, Today reported. Back in July, someone threw a drink at rapper Cardi B during a performance in Las Vegas. And in June, singer Bebe Rexha had to be taken to the hospital after being hit in the face by a phone that was thrown from the audience.
No matter the reason, this is a safety issue for both the artist and other people in the crowd. It could also end with you being arrested for assault, like the man who threw the phone at Rexha.
"Performers like engagement," Gottsman says, "but don't attempt to get their attention this way."
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