Watch my life unravel...



Top Canadian Blogs - Top Blogs

Local Directory for Ottawa, ON


Bluesfest Day 9: The Chair Controversy

Stew's BBQ Blues CrewI ran into some of Stu’s BBQ Blues Crew on Day 9, but without Stu. They’ve staked out a nice little spot in the centre of the field between the Main Stage and the Rogers Stage.

It truly is a primo location. They’ve got beer and Porta-Potties and food nearby.

“And the First Aid Station,” said John, “Just in case.”

As the action shifts from one stage to the other, they just swivel their chairs around, and they’re ready for the next show.

Rita pointed out that their chairs aren’t bothering anybody, because they’re not competing with anybody for prime real estate. This is an excellent point.

The Bluesfest Chair Controversy has been raging for years, and frankly Bluesfest wouldn’t be the same without it. I like the controversy.

But I was surprised by an email I received today from the Folk Festival email list. It said, in an aside: “And a final word of commiseration to the “sitters” among you who lost the battle to the “standers”, again, at Bluesfest on the Lebreton Flats; at least you can rest easy that there will be no such hassles, mostly, at the Ottawa Folk Festival.”

I am not a chair person, though I do know and like some of the chair people. Personally, I think there should be designated chair areas, and they should be set well back from the stages, because the chairs take up too much valuable space.

The problem is not really the chairs. The problem is that some of the chair people have an extraordinary sense of entitlement – they think their chairs should be permitted to sit unoccupied, reserving their space, while they’re off doing other things. Worse yet, they think they should be entitled not only to the space their chair occupies, but to the line of sight between it and the stage. They refuse to accept the fluidity of crowds.

I’m short. I’m used to not owning my line of sight in a crowd. I spent a hundred bucks last year on a second-row seat at Cirque du Soleil, and then some guy with massive shoulders and a bulging neck and a freakishly large head took his front-row seat in front of me. Even a normal-sized person would have blocked my view, so I wasn’t surprised or even pissed off. That’s just life when you’re short. It’s also life when you choose to sit down in a crowd.

So I go to Bluesfest without a chair and not expecting to see the stage. I don’t know why so many chair people get upset about not being able to see the stage. I guess they think that if they could see the stage when they first set up their chair, they have a right to keep being able to see it. But crowds are fluid, they seep into all the available spaces, and before long very few people – standers or sitters – can see the stage. (By the way, have you seen that seven-foot-something man at Bluesfest? I bet he can see the stage.)

DancerLast night I did get lucky at the River Stage for Xavier Rudd. Right beside the stage, there’s a small platform holding a sign listing the day’s lineup. I stood on the platform and had a birds-eye view of the huge crowd. I could see the stage too, but not the side Xavier Rudd was on, so it wasn’t perfect. But it was a lot better than what I’m used to. I towered over everybody, including this dancer.

Anyway, I like the Chair Controversy because it’s a time-honoured Bluesfest tradition. I hope it rages on forever.

6 comments to Bluesfest Day 9: The Chair Controversy

  • Em

    Urg… the entitlement complexes of the Chair People really gets me. I think 90% of them don’t get out to many GA concerts very often. At GA concerts, it’s part of the deal. You’re lucky to get away with your basic rights as a human being, let alone an unobstructed view of the stage!

    I really like the River Stage, it had a really good vibe the day I was there.

    And YES! Seven Foot Man! Saw him, wished I was him, etc.

  • I think the River Stage is my favourite. But I haven’t been in the Barney Danson Theatre yet. I plan to try to squeeze it in tomorrow because that seems to be where all the action is going to be tomorrow.

    What’s a GA concert Em?

  • Fluidity of crowd, that hits the nail on the head.

  • Em

    GA = General Admission

  • Rita

    Thanks for putting our picture in your Blog.
    Thank God it is over for this year..I was so tired & I fooled
    myself into thinking I could go to work everyday & still do
    9 days of Bluesfest. Think again Rita!!!!!
    I am sure I will get my voice back sometime this week.
    It was nice to see you since we don’t see much of you since Stu left town.

  • Merely want to say your article is impressive. The clearness in your post is simply impressive and i can take for granted you are an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your rss feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the respectable work