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How to Move Through a Crowd Like A Pro

Navigating the crowds of EDM safely and properly.

Bassnectar Camp Bisco 2017

As we continue to push into the explosive and inclusive movement that is EDM, there is one thing is becoming increasingly apparent to the vet’s of the club scene. People do not know how to move through a crowd or how to occupy space appropriately in the club or at an event.  If you’ve been out more than once or twice, you’ve seen a fight break out, or a drink spilled because of poor movement choices. This article is going to help provide some extra tools and tips to help you find that sweet spot while you’re raving.

Photo courtesy of DJ Master Course.

First off, we’ll go into basics and overviews of occupying space, and where to do so. Visualize entering a club. You walk in, and the first thing you do is look at the main stage. Paint a straight line between you and the main stage. Any area in this straight line will be uncomfortable, packed, and full of people interrupting your experience as they come and go. You do not want to be in these areas. The area on the far side of any stage from the entrance is always the most roomy. This is just human nature, people will wander straight to the stage from the entrance they came in and, as things get uncomfortable, they will pan out like water.

This general trick doesn’t work with every single club layout, but with this knowledge, you will start spotting the trends and know where the sweet areas are before you can even see them. This tactic sounds like common sense to most but is rarely utilized, based on my experiences. This works for festivals, too. If you enter on the right in a festival, the right side (close side) is always going to be jam packed, while left side will have room for throwing elbows.
Ladies, this works for bathrooms too. The far side bathrooms, or porta potty village will always be less packed.

Another trend starting to happen in festivals and clubs with all the new blood in the scene is that we have “wallflowers”. What I mean by this is a unique but not complex phenomenon. Wallflowers will gravitate to the easily reached back areas, aisle ways, and back rails (in front of sound booths, for example). They want the experience, but don’t want to be in the pits, main dance floors, or front rails. We all get it, but as room opens up in front, they stay put. Normal attendees will slowly move up to fill in these spaces fluidly, and wallflowers won’t.

As the night goes on, people come and go and the main areas will empty out. Unfortunately, this creates a wall that makes traffic hard to navigate. You will have huge roomy areas in the front yet a absolutely insane wall of people in the back or aisle ways. None of us can control these people, but hopefully now you will start to spot this happening and will be able to “push through” with your squad. You’ll then be able to find that empty oasis in the front, rather than just thinking you have to stay in the back and missing out.

Tips for Moving from Point A to B

1) “Move like an Italian”. As you move through the crowds of people, communicate silently with your hands. The best way to do this is by having your hand out and fingers tightly together (imagine the hand formation of a karate chop) and motion with your hand. Doing this prevents people from thinking you are pointing at them and startling someone (which you don’t want to do in a dark club). Depending on the type of music playing, I’ll wiggle at the wrist up and down, or back and forth like I’m sawing through the empty space I’m trying to occupy.

This will get people’s attention so that they see your intention. This hand should either be above waist level, or diagonal up in the air. It’s all dependent on the amount of movement or tallness of your crowd. Remember to use your whole hand and not use individual fingers, as it will look like you’re pointing and will confuse everyone.

2) Reserve the space that you’re about to enter. Normally the safest way to do this is by having an arm or object out in front of you (use your hands as stated above to stay safe/innocent). This reserves the space you intend to walk through ahead of time for you, as well as prevents run in’s and any confusion from other traffic.

You can use LED’s, totems, signs, anything neutral instead of your arm to get the same effect, but DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT walk through a crowd with your drink three feet in front of you while maneuvering a crowd. This is how drinks get spilled, this is how people get mad and this is how people get into bad situations. This applies to people with it in their outstretched arm, and people holding their drink two feet above their head . The safest drink is near your center of gravity, your torso, preferably a few inches away from you so don’t get wet either.

3) “Light the way”. This next tip is a cheat code, and should only be used in extreme situations or emergencies. Do not abuse this one, as you’ll upset staff and look like a jerk. Security and staff in most club environments will move through the crowd and communicate with flash lights, and most people in the crowd understand this. Pulling out your phone and turning on the flash light, up in the air and angling it down in the direction you’re trying to go will motivate people to move for you. The only time this is really needed is in situations where an avenue or isle way is being blocked by people for no good reason.

This shouldn’t need to be said, but DO NOT POST UP IN DOORWAYS.

Now that I’ve prefaced emergencies, I’m going to take a moment to mention… IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. Peace, Love, Unity, Respect. Everyone should be there to have fun in a safe place. If you see a fight, weapons drawn, or someone in trouble (stealing, drugging, puking, overdosing, etc), get security over there, it’s their job. Someone may get kicked out, but you may save a bag, a phone, a night, your favorite from club closing down or even a life.

4) Rave Together, Stay Together. On a lighter side, the last thing I’m going to talk about is squad movement, or moving together with your friends. We’ve already talked about how to find and move to open places. It’s all about combining those tactics with just a little more pre-planning.
When it comes to festivals, make sure your team pre-selects landmarks and meeting places. Be aware of what your friends are wearing each night. When it comes to the club, just determine an “anchor spot” for the group to keep anchor and post up. Clubs tend to have more movement, wandering, drink purchases, bathroom trips, etc.

While moving together, communicate where everyone is about to go roughly before moving. This way, if you lose someone, they will still know where to go. Try to avoid doing the conga line through a festival or club as it’s extremely disruptive and obnoxious to the other 99% of the people in the area. Also, try not to hard lock your arms on your pals and instead try to swim together through the crowd like dolphins. Have your hands (fins) up so you can see each other moving if you get separated, and make sure you don’t let too much space get between you and the rest of your pod.

Remember, stay safe and please feel free to add your critiques or your own tactics in the comments so we all can rave safely and our best. 

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