Rock Club Etiquette: How to Not be a Douche


Having been to a sizeable share of rock clubs during my 15 years of adulthood, I have seen some amazing rock-clubthings: uplifting performances; new favourite bands; and laughs with old friends big enough to remain lasting memories.

Amidst all of the beauty, there’s the ugly: the people that don’t know how to visit a rock club and not be a douche. For anyone who has trouble with not getting kicked out early; getting cut off at the bar; or handling the judgment of fellow crowd members, then this one’s for you.

Drink, but Don’t Be Dumb About it

We get it. Sometimes opening bands are terrible and drinks are required to handle them. But, be sensible about this. If you’ve forked out a wad of bills for parking (or a cab), admission, coat check, rounds for you (and maybe friends), plus band merch, do you really want to get bombed to the point where you wake up the next morning not remembering the performance you set out to see? And that’s the least terrible end result, because you could just as easily turn into that projectile puker from the show, or that guy who accidentally got bumped into, flipped out, then tried to take on a crew of 300lb grouchy security dudes. Drink at the show, but be sure to do so in a way that doesn’t make you the show.

One-man Mosh Pits are for Losers

Without getting into a debate about how useful or useless mosh pits are nowadays, let’s all agree that no one likes the one-man mosh pit. You know, that guy who stands at the front (usually by himself), who at a moment of his choosing breaks out of his slumber and starts body checking audience members, usually resulting in spilt drinks, wet shirts and stares of disgust? Don’t be this person. Yeah, that may be your favourite band on stage and therefore you want to lose your mind, but it’s important here to survey the crowd. You could very easily laugh off the harm you caused to the skinny kid up front, but you may also create harm for yourself by bashing into the wrong person.

Don’t Walk Through People

When you’re moving from one part of the room to another, it’s important not to run through people. Just because a person may be one of many obstacles between you and the stage, that doesn’t mean you should treat him or her like a bowling pin. Turn your body sideways, make eye contact if you can, then gently slide through. Sometimes placing a hand on a person’s back can bring ease to the situation, but a simple ‘thank you’ will always go a long way. Be smooth as a wrecking ball: not harmful like one.

Respect the Staff

From the door guy, to the bartenders, waitresses, security guards and managers, rock club staffers often have to put up with a lot of shit. The drunk losers are always on their radar, band needs have to be catered to, as does the ability to ensure that the venue doesn’t turn into a chaotic mess that upsets all in attendance. With that in mind, be courteous. Tip well, look staff in the eye and don’t treat these individuals as if they’re your servants. The bartender is not there to hang onto your purse, jacket, or charge your phone. Nor are security guards interested in being baited into a conflict, nor are the waitresses interested in being fondled, nor does the door guy care why or how you don’t have ID. Be good to these people, because (apart from a paycheque), all they really want is for people to enjoy themselves and not be annoying.

Avoid the Violence

If you feel the need to drink and fight, go to hip-hop club, MMA party, or take a flight to Europe and become a soccer fan: rock clubs don’t need you.

Have Fun and Appreciate the Bands 

While we’ve all been guilty of just gripping a beer and staring at a band as they perform, it never hurts to help them out by showing that a good time is being had. Not all bands are great (at the beginning, or ever), but clap, bob your head, give a ‘woot’ here and there – this goes a long way. It warms up the club, motivates the band and makes leaving the house more worthwhile. If you don’t support your bands at a small club level, they may never feel encouraged to strive for the bigger stages. Considering the current dominance of pop music, it’s perhaps more important than ever to support the emerging rock warriors.

-Adam Grant

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