Like a sick version of VH1’s Where Are They Now, AP is reporting that at least 39 people died [Update:
54 65 96 dead] last night after a fire broke out at a Great White concert in West Warwick, Rhode Island. The nightclub fire comes less than a week after 21 people were killed in a stampede towards the door of a dance club here in Chicago. This is absolutely horrible, not in the least because these deaths were entirely preventable.
Having spent more than my fair share of nights in overcrowded clubs with dubious emergency exit strategies, I consider myself damn lucky today. Waiting to file out of a bar next to someone with B.O. will never bother me again. I will probably start paying more attention to emergency exit signs. I might even think twice about sticking around at those shows where visual evidence tells me the club has doubled or tripled its occupancy limit.
That is, if the sorts of small clubs and locally promoted concerts I usually frequent are even around anymore. In the wake of these two awful incidents and the resultant media attention, it’s a safe bet that life as a small time club owner or concert promoter just got ugly. Insurance rates will go up. Code restrictions will be more aggressive. Enforcement will be taken more seriously. These are good things, obviously necessary steps. I just hope they don’t result in a whole slew of small venues being wiped out.