We’ve all been there, you’ve bought a ticket to see your favourite artist play, you’ve waited the weeks if not months for the date to finally arrive, the act then finally emerges behind the CDJ’s and then bang, it hits you. Not the vibrancy and nor the atmosphere, it’s a sea of synthetic light, and you’re immersed in it. Screens everywhere left, right and John Mensah.
Now I’m sure the term goes something like “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Unfortunately, in this instance, the image above doesn’t look to be worth many words at all, in fact none. We’re not saying you have to talk as a reveller but at least try to be one. Not only are you killing the vibe by having your phone out but you’re killing the promoters, you’re killing the DJ’s and you’re almost guaranteed to be killing the poor sods behind you. Worse still he has to endure you doing it, as you continue to get the dopamine fix you so desperately need. From what we remember, nightclubs were always meant to be places where you could escape from the humdrum of actual life. Not anymore, apparently.
Now we know it’s fairly common to have that one friend who seemed more devoted to their phone than life itself but why does that number have to quadruple as soon as we step into an event. In general, we’re seeing more and club revellers reaching for their phones, instead of the air and we can’t quite understand why. Yes, there are multiple benefits to wireless communication and there has been since the trusted Bell invented the blower, however, this generations dependency to this not so modern invention is frankly getting ridiculous. You don’t need to document each indistinct moment of the night. You don’t need to watch as the rotating ‘Shazam’ logo struggles to find a song, you know the one that you’re missing. We could have gone on for longer but the message is simple. You don’t need to do any of it.
A slightly worrying reminder of this issue arose and one of our recent events. We’re sure you’ll know already that in November we hosted the infamous, Annie Mac, as she brought the highly regarded ‘Hi 5’ tour back up to Newcastle. Of course the event sold-out in seconds, of course, Annie Mac rocked it and of course, the void’s Soundsystem left our ears tingling for a week. That was all a given. The only shock of the evening, which stood out like the sorest of thumbs, was the lack of communal connectivity behind the audience. Yes, the place bounced from start to finish but once the room had cleared out, the lights had regained consciousness and the smoke had slowly vanished, many people were quick to point out the disconcerting trend amongst their fellow ‘clubbers’. This was, of course, the excessive use of mobile phones.
Since the tour, Annie has only gone on to confirm what we were thinking all along and in a recent interview with Music-Week, the Radio 1 star gained a lot of publicity talking about this very issue. She was asked about the Hi5 tour and its comparisons to previous ones. She responded and said that main, “difference was phones – it was next level. Everything had to be recorded on people’s phones, or they were asking me to take selfies… It was constant phones in my face.”
“There was this constant kind of need for documentation of the night and it just killed my fucking vibe. I feel like that’s a really big problem in terms of clubbing now, because the ultimate idea and goal of clubbing is to connect. It’s the same experience you get when you go to a football game – you’re all experiencing the same amazing emotional charge together.”
“But if you can’t do that because you’ve got a fucking screen in front of you that you have to record everything on, it really takes away that initial base level of connection.”
To have a pioneer of the Birtish scene say this really made us tingle a bit inside because if nothing like this was ever said, where do you think we’d really end up? This brings us to the question about ourselves, the party providers. What can we do and how can we make a change?
Option A. Enter Yondr.
Yondr, are a small tech company based in San Francisco who are trying to tackle the issue head-on. Ever since their establishment back in 2014 they’ve been shaking up the event scene using a fairly radical solution. The company, founded by tech guru Graham Dugoni, introduced a 6-inch pouch with a proprietary lock designed to prevents people from then using or accessing their mobile phones. Before you get all fussy about this, please bare in mind that there are actually areas where phones can be activated, so your not forbidden from them, it’s just slightly more controlled.
So is Yondr the solution to save the crisis or is do you think it’s a little overboard. Unfortunately for you, you may not get decide anymore. Despite a lot of people complaining about the phone-free technology, saying that it’s unconventional and society has little room for it, it would appear the venues disagree as some major ones are veering towards it. What other options do they really have? It’s not like we can encourage the phone thefts which seem to be have swept our nightlife by storm in a hopeless attempt to get our clubs screen-free. We just can’t do that.
We could do what Phonox are doing. The ever-bustling Brixton nightclub has taken matters into their own hands and instead of banning mobile phone usage, they’re simply cracking down on it. On entry, they are actively encouraging attendees to not use their devices and by speaking to people and giving out cards, their please seems to be working. The owner of Phonox says that they are “not trying to be militant or make a statement, the club is just a nicer place without camera flashes on the dancefloor.”
Lot’s to consider there. At the end of the day though, it shouldn’t be down to the promoters, it’s down to us, the lovers of music. Respect the fucking vibe, OK.
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Written by Alistair Nelson, February 1st 2018