The Power of Raw & Unbridled Crowds
I remember my first real experience feeling the raw power and potential danger of a huge crowd.
You see, I was a huge Zepplin fan and like so many, I was very sad that I missed the opportunity to ever see them live. They broke up when I was very young.
After Zep broke up each of the members went their different ways to form their own bands.
The year was 1985 and I finally had the opportunity to see Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelins former leader, producer and guitarist. At the time, he was playing with his band The Firm along w/Paul Rogers, Chris Slade and Tony Franklin.
I was just 15 years old, I had the chance to see his band at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I went with a few friends. We were determined to be right up by the stage...
Now you have to keep in mind that these were the days when general admission gave you access to front and center of the stage. That section was standing room only. If you got there early enough, were assertive enough and could stand your ground, you could be right up there only a few feet from the band.
I was disappointed to see that the venue had barricades up in front of the stage. I was hoping to be right up to it.
The barriers created a perimeter around the stage that provided a narrow walkway for security.
We got up front early, it wasn't bad. It was a bit tight, but there was still breathing room.
I don't remember who the opening act was, but I do remember as the night went on, and it got closer to the Firm coming on stage, the crowd began to compress everyone toward the barricades.
By the time Page and his crew came on, I achieved my goal and was right on the barricade. I was as close to the stage and Jimmy as I could be.
As the night wore on I was soaked with sweat and pressed so tight to the barricade I could barely breath. We were packed so close that if you fell you would have been crushed. One of my friends feet weren't even touching the ground.
It was hot and hard to breathe because of the crowd pressing together so forcefully. I wasn't even claustrophobic and it was challenging for me, I can't even imagine if I was!
Every now and again a wave would come through the crowd that would move you several feet. It was everything you could do to stay standing and not get 'pulled out to sea' so to speak.
I could now appreciate why the barriers were placed like that. It allowed security to pull you to safety, out of the throng.
The first to go was a lady a few 'rows' back from me. At first she was speaking loudly asking for help, then more urgently... Followed by yelling as she began panicking.
We tried to make room for her, but it was impossible. The crowd was pressing too tightly. Security had to literally climb up on the barricade and lay out over the crowd to grab her by the wrist and forcefully pull her now limp body out.
As the night pressed on person after person was being pulled from the crowd. Including each of my friends. Leaving me alone with the brooding concert goers.
By the end of the concert I was exhausted and soaked from head to toe. It was an emotional endurance test that left a stripe of deep bruises along my ribs from being pressed directly on the barricade.
It was both frightening and exhilarating. I had the time of my life, but it could have gone very badly I suppose... Probably why they don't let you do that in concerts any more. Well, that and now, rather than standing there in general admission, they sell seats there, that close to stage for thousands of dollars.
Anyway, it wasn't a riot or protest, but it was my first real experience of feeling that amount of power of a crowd.
Protests, Unrest & Riots...
That was one of my first experiences of how large groups of people have a mind of their own and a sense of raw power. It was an exciting experience for me as a young man. Later, during some of my security details and travels, I had other experiences that weren't so positive with crowds...
Maybe I'll share some of those stories at another time...
Some of those experiences inspired my latest guidebook:
PEACEWALKER: The Social Unrest Survival Guide
It's a 21 page quick reference guide to keeping things together when the world's falling apart.
I discuss principles on, health, mindset, risk, surviving quarantine and more. The guidebook goes into the specifics on avoiding and surviving being caught in a protest or riot.
Discussions on coming across a blocked roadway or having your vehicle surrounded.
It even gets into things like how to protect your business, what to do if you have a home intruder and other important points of interest when it comes to keeping yourself and loved ones safe during these times of social unrest.
This timely reference guide is available exclusively to our private PeaceWalker.net members.
If you're a current member, make sure to check it out...
If you're not a member, sorry, this guidebook is not for sale at any price. It's only for our private members.
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In the meantime...
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