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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ball State chapter.

It’s a Saturday in August 2022. I’m sitting on the hot concrete, playing Uno with two of my high school friends and two girls I had just met earlier that day. Surrounding us are makeup bags, backpacks, water bottles, and greasy Five Guys’ bags.

We’re lined up to see The Driver Era, a band consisting of Ross and Rocky Lynch. We had general admission tickets, meaning that we did not have assigned seats, and our section was standing-room only. Fans of the duo lined up hours before the show in an attempt to get as close as possible to the stage. The goal is to get (to the) barricade, touching the barrier between the stage and the audience. I arrived that day around 11 a.m., but my companions set up camp around 7 or 8 a.m. We were taking part in camping culture, which is when fans of an artist arrive early for a concert to get their spot in line to solidify a closer spot to the stage.

Sometimes, fans will arrive days before a show. This has been commonly seen with bigger artists like Harry Styles and BTS. Fans will sleep overnight in the streets, which can be an unsafe practice, especially in the big cities where concerts are often held. Some artists or venues have even asked concertgoers to not camp outside the venues, but that does not stop some fans.

In December 2022, the night before their show, fans of Louis Tomlinson huddled together outside PRYZM in Kingston-Upon-Thames. A wristband system was used: “Wristbands. Red: People camping/queuing very early. Silver: Others who turned up before 8:00. Blue: Others in the queue at 8:30. We are letting in blue wristbands first, then silver, then red.” This angered fans who camped at the venue overnight, as they were sent to the back of the queue. This concert was in the middle of winter in the United Kingdom, where they have cold winters. This is obviously unsafe which is why the venue put this wristband system into place.

Why risk your health for a good view? Some fans find the reward to be greater than the risk. Leah White, a 24-year-old avid concertgoer, has camped for eight concerts, five of which were overnight. When asked about her coldest camping experience, she said, “I remember it like it was yesterday… We were laid up on the street, and it was in the 40s with awful wind.” She was lined up for Harry Styles, a show in Chicago in September 2021. She was outside for a total of 19 hours before getting into the venue. Despite the cold temperatures and wind, she did not get sick afterward. “We actually had quite a few blankets with us, and we dressed really warm because we had no idea what to expect. My eyes watered a few times from my face being cold, but I didn’t get sick or anything,” White said. She and her friends ended up getting barricade. 

Besides the fact that cold temperatures can potentially cause health issues, camping for long periods of time often involves not leaving a single spot. Thankfully, most queues will have an unofficial leader (usually the first to arrive) who puts numbers on people’s hands to indicate their place in line. This way campers can leave their spot in line to use the bathroom, freshen up, or get food without having to worry about losing their spots. People also often camp with friends, so they can take turns leaving the line, which is what White said they did.

Concert camping is not only potentially dangerous but also potentially unethical. Is it fair to allow concertgoers to sleep in the streets when some cities are enacting anti-homeless laws and building anti-homeless architecture? The Forum, an arena in Los Angeles, has actually banned homeless individuals from setting up their camps across the street; however, they allowed Harry Styles’ fans to do so for his 15-show residency at the venue.

Camping also has its perks. I got to meet Riker Lynch, brother to Ross and Rocky, who also performs with them. I got a new story to tell as it was my first time camping. My friends and I got pretty good spots in the crowd, one of us eventually getting barricade. I also got some pretty great pictures and videos. Some make friends through their camping experiences. 

In my experience, concert camping does not have to be a bad thing. With moderation, it can be a good experience and not totally ludicrous. My advice is to take care of yourself, the people around you and your environment, and make sure you are following the artist or venue’s queuing policy. Maybe instead of showing up the night before a concert, show up early in the morning. I arrived at a Blackbear concert around an hour and a half before the doors opened, and I was one row away from the barricade. I promise you, you’ll enjoy the concert no matter where you’re standing.

Gracee Hedge

Ball State '25

Gracee Hedge is a Public Relations major with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is the secretary of Operation Black-Out, a dance club on Ball State's campus, and a member of Delta Sigma Pi, a co-ed professional business fraternity. Some of her favorite things include reading, dance, photography, Gilmore Girls, and 5 Seconds of Summer.