THE BEGINNING

Stuart Stubbs on gig etiquette for the larger gentleman.

tall-at-gig

I’m a tall man. Inescapably so, and much to the relief of strangers in search of small talk. If I meet a friend of a friend who happens to be female, at some point in the evening, just as we’ve become a little more comfortable in each other’s company, and before we’ve become so comfortable we’re freely talking complete horse shit, they will say, “Oh God, I feel so small stood next to you.” Guys don’t say that so much, but they might ask me what I’m drinking, “big man.” When my dad introduces me to his friends, he says, “This is my son… and he’s the little one!” People love that gag, either politely or perhaps not realising that what he means is that my brother is older than me, not twice the size.

All of this tall-talk has never bothered me. When somebody says, “Bloody hell, you’re a bit tall, aren’t ya?”, I might wonder what else I can say other than, “yeah, I am”, but it’s not as if they’re calling me a prick, I don’t think. At gigs, though, they usually are.

I’m tall, but I’m not completely stupid. If some 6ft 4” bloke slinked his way in front of me just before a band came on, I’d be pissed too, but I’ve always had a rule against that anyway – no snaking is to be done fifteen minutes before the curtain; a common courtesy that all heights should stick to, unless you’re 17, in which case, press on. Instead, I either root myself early, like that tree at Glastonbury that’s brilliant for shade but terrible for a view, or I make do with the back wall. If you’re in position early, people can’t choose to stand behind you and then complain, you’d think. They do, of course, with grumbles and sharp exhalations. When I have gone rouge in the past, burrowing past the 15 minute curfew, I could almost hear the prayers of “please don’t stop, please don’t stop” as I passed. And then, when I do, a collective heavy sigh that sounds like a hundred people deflating. Nice one, lanky! I get it, but what’s a guy to do?

It’s getting worse, too. Earlier this year, at a Sleigh Bells show, I was cutting it fine so headed for the back of the room where there was still enough space to swing a lion, and where it was 3 deep between my back and the bar staff at most. “You’re not fucking standing there,” bitched a waspy, circular girl in a flash, oblivious to the wonders of a sidestep. I’m guessing if we were on a bus and I’d been twice my own width she’d have held her tongue rather than snapped at the fatty. It’s why the svelte lot naturally gravitate towards each other at shows, like a herd of self-conscious giraffes. It might be that we feel less guilty if we’re blocking each other’s views, but really that’s a bonus to safety in numbers against the mob.

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