Hey Phoenix, Welcome to Concert Wristband Etiquette 101
Almost anyone who has ever been to a concert in their lifetime has experienced some form of wristband interaction. You've walked into a concert, especially one where alcohol's served, and a door person has put a wristband on you. The wristband itself can signify different things: that you paid, that you're of legal drinking age, or that you're not of legal drinking age, among other things.
Point is, you've almost definitely worn a wristband at a show. And at times, it might even have been a very uncomfortable experience.
Recently, I was out on the town at a local band's CD release show. As with most concerts, the time to put my wristband on arrived and I was told to "put out my right wrist."
I did that. But the door person seemed kind of disinterested and annoyed. Instead of telling me to lower my arm so she could better apply my band, she grabbed my arm unexpectedly and fairly aggressively and pulled it lower so she could more easily apply it.
The show had already started. There wasn't a line or a major rush happening. Things seemed pretty calm, particularly from a door person's perspective.
Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal. But as a former door guy, I know this could've gone better. I understand wristband etiquette.
Here's what should've happened: I get the wristband put on comfortably, and the door person can reach comfortably to attach it. We both win.
But nobody won here. She did her job aggressively, and I was left with a momentary sour taste in my mouth. It all could have been avoided with a little communication.
I am a music fan and a regular concert attendee. I also play a ton of shows, and I used to work the door, from 2009 to 2011, at the Rhythm Room. So I have several perspectives on the situation.
I have dealt with the super-mean door person, the careless door person, the annoyingly unaware customer, the aggressive and timid customers, the cool band members and the dickhead ones. Point is, I've seen the entire spectrum of the concert wristband world.
And sadly, after all these years of experience, I still encounter negative energy when it comes to getting a concert wristband. But with a little bit better communication and attention to detail, we can change that so venue employees can do their job and concertgoers can have their wristbands placed so perfectly, it's like you are not even wearing one. It's totally possible.
Let's start with the door person's perspective to level the playing field.
First off, when you work the door, you deal with everyone, and they are all extremely ready to get into the show and see the band(s) they came to see, not to hang with you. So the angst and FOMO of people waiting in line is already working against you. They don't really care about anything but getting in, and this is how the negative energy slowly creeps its way into existence.
The door person is supposed to get everyone through the line as fast as possible. What ends up happening is that instead of taking the time to get wristbands on in the "comfort zone," they are just slapping them on you at a rapid pace to get you through the line and into the show. And this is a by product of the pressure concert goers apply while they are waiting in line because truthfully, impatient and pushy people are not the easiest humans.
So how can the door person even do their job attentively when they are dealing with patrons who don't want to help themselves when the time comes, only to make complaints later?
What ends up happening to the concert goer is that they can get their wristband applied in a way that's annoying and uncomfortable and makes the concert less enjoyable. If it's too tight, it cuts off circulation. If it's too loose, it falls off. If too much sticky stuff is out, it’s like getting a section of your arm hair waxed when you eventually have to rip it off. All losing situations that could be avoided with a little bit of kindness and empathy from both ends of the wristband spectrum.
How? With simple communication — and the expectation that you have to wait for good service, for things to be done right.
As a door person, all you need to do is use your words politely.
Explain exactly where concertgoers need to put their wrist for you to be comfortable before trying to apply the wristband. It can be done without forcefulness and without applying the band in a way that sucks. It just takes teamwork.
On the flip side, concertgoers need to be empathetic to the door person's situation and realize they are trying to please everyone in the line. It’s their job to greet everyone who's coming to the show. The concertgoer needs to understand that they are not the only person waiting to get in and accept their fate in line. And once they are in line, they need to be at least somewhat aware of the fact that they, and several other people in front and behind them, are in a line to get into a concert.
Nothing can be harder on the door people, and the line, than a total lack of awareness.
And concertgoers can help their own situations as well. Politely ask the door person to put on your wristband at a length that is comfortable. I like the old "wrap it around your wrist and put down a one-finger barrier" to make sure it's on there comfortably. Ask politely, and your wristband wishes will be granted.
There is no need for wristbands to cause problems at concerts. If everyone chills out, takes the time, and shows the tiniest amounts of respect and empathy, it will work in everyone's favor.
It's time to change the way we do wristbands. I am willing to wait those extra few seconds per person for everyone to get it right. And if you want to keep complaining, Grumpy McGrumperton style, in a way that perpetuates the problem, then do us all a favor and arrive early. Remember, you're there to have fun.
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