Standing up at a seated venue: what’s the rule here?

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I went to a show last night at a downtown concert hall. It was a classy-ish affair, with a veteran headliner and a crowd that leaned older – averaging somewhere in the 50-70 demographic, I would guess. The venue: a vintage classic, with fold-down, cushioned, mounted-to-the-floor assigned seating and a balcony. The music: tough to easily nail down, genre-wise, but “classic rock with horns and keyboards” is somewhere in the immediate vicinity.

I’ve been to this venue before, and depending on the performer, a glaring issue presented itself: to stand or sit? When I saw Queens of the Stone Age there, everyone bolted to their feet the minute the band hit the stage, and we didn’t sit for the duration. When I saw Henry Rollins do his spoken-word thing there, obviously everyone sat. But what about shows where the music lands somewhere between someone talking and a group of people full-on rocking? What’s the etiquette?

When the show started last night, the band hit the stage, rolled right into a well-known, upbeat number, and the front row sprang up, causing a wave of standing that flowed quickly to the back of the house. Another high-energy, popular song came next. The crowd remained standing. After a blistering ten minutes, the band brought it down a notch, easing into a slower track. The crowd collectively sat.

From then on, things didn’t follow such a clear-cut pattern. At certain points one half of the floor crowd was up when the other side wasn’t. Lone, standing dancers sprung up and down at random, trying to decide if obstructing a view is the price to be paid for genuinely enjoying themselves, arms flailing, wide smiles on their faces. A perturbed older man, who was sitting, came from two rows back to scold a younger couple who were up and dancing, wine glasses raised. He scored a high-five from a guy next to him for his efforts. I heard dudes around me sighing heavily when they realized it was time to get up again.

Toward the end of the show, when it was becoming clear that things were on the verge of wrapping up, we all stood, and remained standing, through three encores. This felt right. Except maybe to the couple next to me who left 20 minutes before that. Were they upset about all the standing and sitting? We may never know.

What’s your take on this? Do we collectively have an obligation here, or is it an every person for themselves, I-paid-for-my-ticket-so-I’ll-do-what-I-want situation? Let us know!



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