Chch aggression getting out of hand

VICKI ANDERSON
Last updated 11:09 01/02/2013

Last night I was at Cliff Richard's gig at the CBS Arena and afterwards I met a couple - Lisa and Douglas - who had travelled from Queenstown for the show.

Lisa was really upset, they had been slow dancing in the aisle to Ocean Deep, a relatively slow number (hello, this is Cliff Richard, not Tool), when they were shoulder-tapped by security and told to sit down as they were a "health hazard''.

More of a hazard, surely, was the lack of adequate space for those in wheelchairs and toting zimmerframes, who were in the majority at last night's show.

Lisa said she had been a Cliff Richard fan since she was 12. She was really excited about the show - tickets were combined birthday and Christmas presents from her mother.

"I was slow dancing with my man, we were having a moment, we were off to the side of the stage out of the way of everyone, we weren't thrashing around or yelling and screaming, we weren't in front of any exits, we were just slow dancing and then we both got tapped on the shoulder and told to sit down.''

The pair were so upset they had to leave the venue for a few minutes to calm down. Lisa said she felt as if she was going to burst into tears. It ruined their night.

I rang VBase this morning to find out why someone slow dancing to a Cliff Richard song would be considered a health hazard.

The person I spoke to couldn't comment on what happened to Lisa and Douglas as they weren't working last night, but they explained that there are different security specifications depending on the promoter.

Also, as this was a seated gig in the floor section, she thought that last night security were probably worried about other people who had paid good money for their tickets not being able to see because of Lisa and Douglas' dancing.

"We have to be careful that others aren't impacting or impeding the vision of other ticket holders. It is also a health and safety issue if people are blocking the exit doors which might be needed in case of an emergency.''

Last night I posted on Facebook, asking friends if they'd had similar stories.

A friend said he'd been banned from one Christchurch venue over fears his electric wheelchair could start a fire.

Another told of a gig at the Christchurch Town Hall by Old Crow Medicine Show when the band themselves had to tell the crowd to all get up and dance en masse to get around the security people who were sending people back to their seats.

While a friend in Tokyo said that there clubs had to have a dance licence - if the authorities turn up and there's dancing happening in an unauthorised location then that club is closed down.

I've seen a few awful bouncer moments but post-quake the level of aggression shown is bordering on ridiculous.

At a recent Concord Dawn gig I saw a bouncer wrestle a bloke to the ground and then sit on him, smoking a cigarette, until police arrived. The guy being sat on was a little drunk but was not being violent or threatening, simply a little cheeky.

Another time a friend and I were queuing outside a venue when the bouncer came up to my friend and told her she wouldn't be allowed in. She was puzzled and said 'why not?' He replied that her dreadlocks were "revolting'' and she should just ''go home and wash her hair and stop being a smelly hippy''.

Of course security is there for a good reason and I'm glad they're there but it does seem like lately that the level of aggression in Christchurch at night is getting a little out of hand.

I was talking to a taxi driver about this recently - they are the ones who see it all - and he said there are venues in Riccarton and Hornby where he simply refuses to pick people up from now because it has become so bad - violent drunks and even more violent bouncers.

He told me an awful story about a girl he found in the carpark of a venue in Riccarton. She'd passed out drunk on the ground, the keys to her car were in the open car door.

He called out for help to a bouncer who was standing outside the venue where she had been served alcohol long after she should have been. The bouncer said ''just leave her in the carpark let someone have some fun with her''.

Then the taxi driver called the police who were too busy to come and pick her up. So, he waited until she had woken up, bought her a coffee at a nearby garage, locked her car and then took her home to her parents free of charge.

"If that was my granddaughter I'd hope someone else would do the same thing,'' he said. "I just hate to think what would have happened if I hadn't been there.''

While he was waiting, he said, he saw the bouncer "rough up'' a few students leaving the venue who hadn't appeared to be causing any trouble. It was something he said he'd noticed becoming more common recently.

Do you think slow dancing to Cliff Richard is a health hazard? Let me know about your brushes with security, post below or email Vicki.Anderson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz.

- The Press

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