Monday, March 09, 2009

gate crashing

I've always been fascinated by the power of the mob. Whether it be soccer riots, political rallies or even a going out of business sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I get this strange sense of exhilaration when I see the potential for acts of hooliganism, looting and general destruction. There's just something wildly invigorating about watching the emergence of chaos.
Over the years, I've been swept up in a few mob scenes. My all-time favorite was the Deer Creek Grateful Dead riot in the summer of 1995. For those of you who missed it, about 8,000 fans unruly fans stormed the hillside of an ampitheatre in Noblesville, Indiana. I was among them. We ripped apart the wooden fence as cops unleashed the hounds and launched canisters of tear gas. Then, they called in about 100 cruisers from nearby Indianapolis while police helicopters hovered above the venue. Upon reflection, it was an unusual gate crashing. There was a group of about 20 hippies at the northern side of the parking lot that made the move towards the end of the first set. Very little coordination or planning went into this one. Then, suddenly the mob erupted and everyone charged. My point - it was an act of totally disorganized spontaneity.
I've always wondered if you could harness and better coordinate the power of the mob. In this day and age of instant communication via text messaging, the answer is... yes. Let's get hypothetical here but we'll stay well grounded in reality. U2 just announced their stadium tour for North America. They've decided to play only football stadiums. Two of the more obscure dates are for Charlottesville and Raleigh. These will be huge shows that draw in the 50,000 range. Since they're college oriented towns, I'd expect that demand will exceed supply on the ticket front. Plus, there will be the usual tailgating and an alcohol induced supercharged atmosphere. Let's say there's a website out there called Currently, no such site exists but what if there was such a forum. It would be an open forum where people could discuss upcoming concerts and sporting events all over the country. The site would also offer a small box where you could input your cell phone number. On the day of the event, just before show time, you could receive an instant message. This message would designate an exact time and place where a ticketless mob will congregate. Now I'm not a security professional or some bullshit rent-a-cop, but I'll tell you one thing - if 1,000 people without tickets suddenly convene right outside Gate D, a mob could instantly form and just push their way in. Whether or not you have a ticket becomes completely irrelevant if you get caught up in the "surge."
If I were going to attend an event, I'd certainly want to know when and where the chaos will emerge. My mindset - Hell, I'm on my way to the concert. I might as well check it out, maybe videotape the crush on my cell phone. Even if you somehow manage to mobilize a few security chumps, there's nothing that can be done. The power of the mob will ALWAYS win via strength in numbers. Hypothetically, you've got 50,000 people converging on the entry points. Suddenly, about 2,500 get the same text message. It's at Gate C, 7:37pm. That's all you need. And trust me, word will spread instantly. Unless, you're a total chickenshit or 7 months pregnant, who isn't going to zip over and check out the mob? Most rock bands like U2 aren't helping themselves with top ticket prices of $400 during a recession. That's just extra motivation.
You might ask, "Well Saf, why haven't we seen this shit go down?" The answer is simple, people have yet to comprehend the power of merging texting with large unruly throngs. I've seen it emerge on a much smaller level - when our local pigs have a surprise DUI checkpoint in Wheeling. You'll see a text go out and it informally makes the rounds. This is what I'd call defensive or preventative texting. You're trying to alert the populace and look out for your mutual friends. My idea of assembling the mob is simply more on the offensive side or as I like to call it "Takin' it to the streets."
Certain events really lend themselves to this idea. Obviously rock concerts, particularly metal and redneck country shows. Stadium style venues that aren't accustomed to dealing with large scale rock concert productions. Think about it - you're attending an all day Rock Festival in one of those mammoth European soccer stadiums. Who wouldn't want to be notified where the mob is going to instantly emerge? At the very least, it makes for some interesting discussion on the ride home. At some point, we will see this happen. I'm thinking by 2012. It's way more likely to become commonplace in South America and parts of Europe; then, eventually make its way to the United States in 2012 or so. I'd get more into the logistics, but I don't feel like talking about it anymore. Perhaps in my next blog...


Anonymous said...

I believe something similar was done in London at a train station. Thousands of people showed up and started dancing at the exact same time. A nonviolent act but impressive nonetheless. I think it was organized through Facebook. Perhaps you should try this through Twitter.

Anonymous said...

Look up the term 'flash mob' and you may get some ideas.