Being Safe at Your Local Nightclubs

By: Rick Landers

February 20, 2003 at The Station, West Warfield, Rhode Island where Great White performed.

February 20, 2003 at The Station, West Warfield, Rhode Island where Great White performed.

With music enthusiasts reaching around the globe, we recognize that all nightblubs and all concerts are not alike, and we not only want you to have fun when you go to a gig, but we want you all to be safe.

The atmospherics and facilities of venues run from responsibly managed clubs, where management is not only focused on ticket and liquor sales receipts, but also the comfort and safety of their clients and guests – to those who are seemingly only interested in ticket sales.

And, even the best managed venues always need to be ready for the unexpected.

While covering a show at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., smoke began to filter out to the audience and our writer and photographer decided “better safe than sorry” and promptly left the building, even though an announcement suggested that all was well.

We can all recall the tragedy in February 2003 when Great White performed in West Warwick, Rhode Island and when The Station nightclub’s sound insulation ignited and an accelerated fire engulfed the club in 5 1/2 minutes. One hundred patrons died and 230 were injured.

It’s a scenario that’s been experienced too many times and where patrons can become victims.

The worst nightclub fire occurred on November 28, 1942, in Boston at the Cocoanut Grove, where 492 died after paper decorations caught fire.

And just this past week, a fire at the Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil, ravaged the club that was reported to be filled to double its capacity and leaving 233 bodies in its wake.

Nightclubs around the world work hard to bring their clients great music and want to offer them evenings of live entertainment that are memorable, and ones that will entice patrons to return for more.  But, in many locales, fire codes are lax or non-existent, and some owners will pack in crowds with little to no regard for the safety of their ticket buyers.

When it comes to attending a concert that is not only enjoyable, but safe, it becomes the responsibility of the patrons to look out for themselves.

What actions can you take to help reduce your chances of being a victim?

  • Be aware of the nearest exits or escape routes to you – are they locked?
  • Assess where any “pinch points” lurk; spots where people could become bottled up trying to escape and where you could get trampled or your exit blocked
  • Listen attentively to any pre-show safety announcements (If they don’t have any, suggest that they do)
  • Determine if the crowd looks to be too large for the venue
  • If a venue begins to fill with smoke, don’t hesitate to leave – you can always return once you decide it’s safe.
  • Tell others in your party, so that they too can enjoy the concert and be safe
  • If there is a fire or another tragic event, once you are out of harm’s way call your family to let them know that you are safe.