Opinion: How Easy Is It To Ban Phones From Gigs?

I was told earlier today that there is no press access for Dave Chappelle's run of intimate shows in London this week so I went on the website for the Electric Ballroom in Camden to buy tickets and saw this interesting announcement:

"This is a strict NO CELL PHONES ALLOWED show. Please leave your phones in your cars or at home. Anyone who brings a cell phone will be required to place it in a locked pouch. Everyone is subject to a pat down or wanding. Anyone caught with a cell phone inside the venue will be immediately ejected."

Dave Chappelle has taken a hard line with regard to his gigs being filmed in the past. There was a strict no-filming policy at the Apollo last year too but as I was given a press pass that time I don't remember if there was a warning against actually taking phones in. Though I do recall a scuffle during the performance between security and a fan who was being ejected, which may have been connected to this issue.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Apart from anything else it is going to be time-consuming to do these checks and Chappelle is performing two shows in each venue each night so it will be a tight turnaround. Will people be able to live without their phones for a couple of hours? Will they mind handing them over if they can't bring themselves to leave them at home or in the car?

I mentioned this policy to my daughter who went into a slight panic about the prospect of being phone-free for two hours. What if she needs to contact someone about meeting at the gig, she asked. This reminded me of the old Micky Flanagan gag about how we managed to have a social life before mobile phones. "We made a plan and stuck to it," said Flanagan. Well Chappelle has a plan of a different kind this week. Let's see how that one works...

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