Concert Camping Culture: Why It’s Disastrous And Problematic For Concert-Goers
by Lauren Sanchez
This article was written by The Zillennial Zine’s fall editorial intern Lauren Sanchez. Find her on Instagram at @lauren.sanchezz. If you would like to share an article with The Zillennial, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting concert tickets for your favorite artists is already a hassle. Long waits in the Ticketmaster queue, frantically hitting refresh to choose seats only to have them be taken out of your shopping cart and making sure that your payment methods are ready to go. And once you survive the literal hell that is Ticketmaster, the stress and anxiety of buying the tickets should be the most stressful thing out of the whole concert experience… right?
Wrong! For avid front-row concert-goers who dream of having general admission or barricades for every show, the stress of a concert is never-ending. If you have attended a concert before, you’ll most likely have seen huge lines of fans wrapping around the arena, the block and even in the parking lot hours before the show starts. Concert camping culture has always been around since anyone could remember. But it was only a few years ago that this camping culture became extremely intense and problematic for venues, artists and concert-goers.
Popular artists like Bad Bunny, BTS, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo have some of the most powerful and dedicated fanbases. This devotion toward these artists has fans from all over the country camping out for days and nights outside venues with tents and inflatable pool floaties to sleep on. As the queue forms, they look forward to getting wristbands and gaining early entry to the concert. And while it may sound like a fun experience to meet other fans who love the artist just as much as you do, the problems that come from such an experience can create more harm than good for these fellow concert-goers.
The Hypocrisy Of Camping On The Streets Between Fans and The Unhoused Community
In big cities with huge homeless populations like New York City, Los Angeles and Toronto, many people without housing are left with very few options to seek shelter. Many police raids are taking place in such cities to tear down homes and throw away belongings, further increasing the unhoused situation and leaving those affected with nowhere to go.
However, with laws in place to prevent people from camping on the streets and these unhoused raids happening daily, it’s problematic that this camping culture amongst fans is more acceptable and even more protected by security than those who turn to the streets for actual survival. While many venues and security discourage all types of camping for concerts, hardly any enforcement of these rules is actually done and these fans still camp out despite it being banned.
In addition, for those fans who do decide to camp days in advance, venues also have had serious problems regarding trash and food disposal on the street since many concert-goers leave their belongings and/or rush to get into the line. This littering not only creates a huge problem for the actual citizens that live in these cities, but it’s incredibly unhygienic and unsafe to be disposing of trash alongside the streets.
Fans Passing Out During Sets, Creating Panic For Security and Artists
After the Travis Scott Astroworld Festival tragedy of fans needing medical attention in large crowds and Scott refusing to stop the show, many artists have taken the initiative to remain proactive and aware of the crowd during their sets so an event like that never happens again.
While it’s amazing that such artists are taking the time out of their set to make sure that those in the crowds are safe and security does its job to protect both the artists and the fans, it’s still critical to address how camping outside for days can impact the health of others.
Especially if you are camping alone and don’t want to leave your spot, it’s extremely difficult to make sure that you are constantly hydrated and eating well. Camping and knowing that you are seeing your favorite artist very soon can create loads of excitement and stress that can prevent you from even thinking about food and water.
There are a lot of videos swarming around TikTok and Youtube of artists having to continuously stop a show to check on the fans in the crowd. With most fans in the front rows having camped out for hours and hours before the start of the show, they are passing out during the show due to dehydration, heat exhaustion and hunger, and need to be picked up by security and taken to medical assistance.
Being sick due to dehydration or having to miss out on the rest of the concert because you passed out from camping out for so long is incredibly dangerous. It is certainly not worth risking your health and personal safety.
Please, For Everyone’s Sake, Take Care Of Your Personal Hygiene!
While the entire camping experience may be a lot to handle and intense, your hygiene should not have to suffer because of it. Camping out for days on end, you are bound to smell terrible if you do not shower, use wipes, put on deodorant and/or brush your teeth during the whole experience. It should be common knowledge that while body odor is completely natural, it is still extremely important to make sure that your health and hygiene remain a top priority.
After the first few nights of Harry Styles’s Love on Tour 2022 in New York City, fans have been experiencing some extreme problems with people around them smelling horrible in the general seating area due to camping on the streets. There have even been reports and videos made about (please, brace yourself for this) fans urinating on the general admission floor because they did not want to lose their spot, causing areas of the floor to be blocked off and the stench to linger across Madison Square Garden.
Now I’ve been to over 20+ concerts in the past few years, and not ONCE have I seen/heard of something as foul as this. While I understand the need to keep a good spot in general admission, creating health hazards for yourself and those around you is disgusting and problematic. It should be a common courtesy to be mindful of others. No one wants to have to sit next to someone who smells really bad and/or feels the need to create a health hazard for the audience. Acting like this can most certainly ruin the concert experience for a lot of people, and you definitely don’t want to be that person!
Thinking Of Cutting The Line? Be Prepared For Drama And Consequences!
Imagine you have been camping out for over 36 hours on the side of the street waiting for the day of the concert to finally arrive. Then all of a sudden during the day of the show, someone decides to cut the line and argue for a spot in front of you. How would you feel if you endured all that for someone to cut? I don’t know about you, but I would be SO angry!
And I wouldn’t be the only one to feel that way. For those who are camping in line, there have been videos and tweets on TikTok and Twitter describing the physical fights and arguments between line-cutters, camping fans and venue security.
Despite camping not being allowed at most venues and these venues not honoring “unofficial” lines created by those who camped, the drama that ensues because of camping culture is unnecessary and not worth it. Fights and arguments can turn a concert experience into something so incredibly negative and horrific. With concerts being considered a safe place for some, the unnecessary drama that comes along with camping culture is not worth making anyone’s concert experience miserable and unsafe.
Concerts are supposed to be a fun experience that allows you to not only see your favorite artist but to be surrounded by an environment full of people who are happy to dance and enjoy the music that has brought so many people closer together.
There’s a reason why I’ve been to over 20 different concerts and have made it a mission to go to at least one a month – the genuine happiness and energy that radiates off the artists and the audience is such an indescribable feeling that everyone should be able to experience at some point in their life.
Yet concert camping culture does the complete opposite. Not only has the culture become toxic and extremely intense, but it creates huge safety and health hazards before, during and after the concert that people shouldn’t have to handle. Camping for hours and even days in the heat, sleeping on the dirty streets of big cities and having to fight my way to the front just to be able to have a “fulfilled” concert experience? That’s going to be a hard no for me.
While there are certainly methods to help prevent this camping culture from escalating further, I do think it’s time that this normalized culture among fandoms and the concert industry is reevaluated. Venues and arenas need to fix and enforce their policies more strictly. Artists need to discourage their fans from camping and remind them of the safety and health risks that come along with it. In doing so, less chaos will be created and there will be more time for fans to enjoy themselves safely and healthily when it comes to concerts.
What are your thoughts on concert camping? Do you think it’s dangerous or a unique experience for concert-goers? Let us know in the comments below!