Wolf Alice at The Great Hall, Cardiff was an incredible night for most and a personal gig highlight of mine so far this year, due to an impressive hoard of gold glitter and plenty of dancing to 3 brilliant bands. However, much as I’d like to think the gig was as enjoyable for everyone else as it was for me, unfortunately this appears to not be true.
Photo credits to @imagineowens
Sexual harrassment at gigs is an issue that has become increasingly prominent due to the likes of Girls Against and their tidal wave of indie celebrity support, and their cause became even more apparent to me on thursday night. Despite not being a victim myself at the gig, several disturbing reports have been recieved by members of this blog, so we thought it ever more appropropriate to make a post on the issue.
“The old guy who was there during Swim Deep starting touching this girl and she told us. Then we asked security if they could help. They said they wouldn’t remove him but said she could leave. Then he disappeared for a while, but reappeared and began to do it again. She was so upset that she went over the barriers because security refused to do anything. It was uncomfortable for a lot of us because more lads came and I think they were groping another girl. Then all of them starting causing a fight between us girls and then it kind of got broke up and then told us to get our facts right. Then the girl was holding my hand in case they came back. Wasn’t nice at all.“
It’s been made pretty obvious to most by now that sexual harrassment, groping or ‘feeling up’ people at gigs -especially when told to stop and without consent- is totally disgusting and not ok. Chances are if you’re reading this then that’s already been made clear to you, because it really is just common sense not to be a perverted prick. So despite this being a ridiculously important thing to keep in mind (it should be written into your subconcious mind frankly, but evidently some people somehow still need to work on handling the concept of respecting others), I’m going to focus on something that might have wound me up just as much- the security’s response.
It really is disgusting and scary how little help was given by security guards at the gig. Before we found out about the incidents of assault, a group of us were commenting how nice they’d been; handing out plenty of water and generally being friendly and easy to get along with. The security at The Great Hall has always been lovely in my experience, but after hearing of how they responded to girls asking for help after being groped I feel so unsettled, it’s almost sickening.
Given that their job is to keep people safe at the gig, dealing with illegal activity such as sexual assault effectively should be at the top of their agenda, in fact I’m surprised and quite appalled that it doesn’t appear to be. I saw people being hauled away for crowdsurfing, vaping/smoking and fighting, but once asked to do something by a girl who’d had a man rubbing his hands over or grabbing at her, they evidently were unprepared to take action. Telling girls that they wouldn’t take action against the perpetrators, that the victims should just leave if they wanted to is a response that could get them fired. Sexual assault is a crime, just like smoking inside a venue or starting a fight. Those guilty of it should have action taken against them and be removed from the crowd if necessary, or at the very least be recognised as a threat and given a very stern warning. A guard shone a torch onto a guy behind me with smoke above him, pointed and said “one more mate, and you’re out”. Security guards should be taught effective procedures to handle sexual assault, ones that don’t unsettle the victim even more by telling them the only action to be to be taken is their responsibility and ruins any chance of them enjoying the rest of the gig.
I can imagine how being a victim of all this could really affect someone’s attitude to going to gigs in future. The fact that fights broke out where girls standing up for themselves or others were apparently told to ‘fuck off and get a life’ is so messed up. If someone feels they have been violated then giving this kind of response is probably the worst thing you could do. It’s precisely why victims fear to speak out about their experiences and it needs to stop.
I could write pages and pages on this issue, but I’ll stop there for now.
I sincerely hope all the girls who experienced anything of the sort are ok and still enjoyed the gig to the best of their ability. There is so much support out there should any of you need it, and we are angry and upset with you. I also call upon The Great Hall to improve their safety procedures for allegations of sexual assault. The venue is a brilliant one that I have many fond memories at, so I expect that things are improved soon.