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Should you stand or sit at a concert? Adele fan ignites debate

Juan Lastra unabashedly stood up, sang and <a href="https://www.tiktok.com/@juanp_lastra/video/7272089604314975531">filmed himself</a> during one of Adele's concerts in Las Vegas. When security tried to get him to sit down, Adele told them to leave him alone.
Juan Lastra unabashedly stood up, sang and filmed himself during one of Adele's concerts in Las Vegas. When security tried to get him to sit down, Adele told them to leave him alone.

Down in front!

Why aren't people on their feet dancing?

There are all kinds of debates regarding the concertgoing experience. If you're tall, should you stand in the back? Can I tell noisy people to shut up during a show? No, you definitely shouldn't throw stuff at artists on stage (flowers might be the exception).

This made me think about whether it's ok to stand when those around you are sitting. Is it OK for other fans or security to tell a fan to sit down?

What happened:

  • At a recent Adele concert in Las Vegas, Juan Lastra belted out every word to songs, all while filming himself with a selfie stick. Lastra was standing — you can see him clearly in his TikTok video. But most of the people in his section were sitting.
  • At least one fan and a security guard told him to sit down so others could see. When Adele stopped singing and asked what was going on, another fan yelled, "They won't let him stand up!"
  • Adele told security to leave him alone. "They won't bother you my darling," she said. "Enjoy the show."

Is it ok to stand when everyone's sitting? It depends.

  • Just because people are sitting doesn't mean it's required that everyone sit. Fans say at Adele's concert there were signs encouraging them to stand up.
  • Sam Swersky, a house manager at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia, said some artists "thrive" on the enthusiasm. "They want to see their fans up on their feet, dancing, singing along. That's just part of what gives them the energy to put on a great performance," he said.
  • Concertgoing is a "social contract," said Audrey Fix Schaefer, a spokesperson for I.M.P. which owns venues in the D.C. area. Concert-goers should respect each other but also be "conscientious...that everybody enjoys it in a different way."

Standing up for your right to sit

  • Some people want or need to stay seated. Commenting on the Adele concert, writer Scott Roeben echoed sentiments I've heard from a lot of people, especially on the older side. "We would never pay to attend a live show if it involved: 1) someone blocking our view of the performer, or 2) other audience members screaming the music we've paid to see performed by, you know, a professional performer," he wrote.
  • "I have a passionate love for experiencing live music," wrote Jennifer MacDonald in a 2020 post on Medium with the headline Standing at Concerts: Is It Really Necessary? She explained that she "is physically unable to stand up all night without my spine rebelling against me." For her and others like her, she said, "Sitting down does not make us lesser fans."
  • I.M.P.'s Schaefer said the only time security would tell fans to sit down at one of their concerts "is if someone is in an ADA area and standing and therefore blocking other people's view that otherwise can't make the choice to stand up or move around."

What I've learned

I can relate to Juan Lastra's need to fully embrace the moment. I recently attended a Ziggy Marley concert with my teenage son. We jumped to our feet when we heard songs we liked, sang and danced — while almost everyone around us remained seated.

Unlike Lastra, I feared we were blocking their views, so we would periodically sit down. But it was a lot less fun! Swersky at Wolf Trap said seated spectators are constantly asking them to tell others to sit down.

Yet after talking to him and Schaefer — not to mention seeing Adele defend her impassioned fan — I wonder if Ziggy Marley might've preferred we remain standing. Eventually he got everyone off their derrieres singing some of his father's biggest hits.

Audio and digital story edited byJennifer Vanasco. Audio produced by Isabella Gomez Sarmiento.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.

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