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Teenage Wasteland
December 3, 2004 11:07 AM   Subscribe

25 years ago tonight, 11 people died in a horrific crush outside the doors of the Cincinnati Coliseum before a concert by The Who. "Every square foot of that room (the Coliseum’s first aid room) was covered by bodies," recounts then-police lieutenant Dale Menkhaus. Pete Townsend took it hard: "I dealt with it, … by sitting and getting drunk." Lessons were learned, but it happened again. This city’s resulting ban on festival seating was repealed just this year. As Jerry Springer, who was a Cincinnati city councilman at the time of the Who concert tragedy, would say, “Take care of yourselves, and each other.”
posted by tizzie (9 comments total)

 
Repealing the festival seating ban is interesting. I know U2's last tour had GA seating on the main floor, which probably meant they wouldn't play Cincinnati. It is undeniably scary getting caught in a mob of people, though -- even when the mob isn't in a frenzy.

(welcome, tiz ;))
posted by pardonyou? at 11:18 AM on December 3, 2004


See also: WKRP episode, which aired Feb. 11, 1980. From TV Tome:

The final caption at the end of this episode was originally supposed to read something like:

As of today, the following cities have passed ordinances against festival seating:

Cincinnati


...Followed by blank space.

This would have called attention to the fact that, at that time, no other cities had banned the dangerous practice of general admission seating at concerts, despite the disaster at Riverfront Coliseum. However, CBS rejected this caption, fearing that representatives of cities would demand equal time to go on the network and explain why it was a bad idea to ban festival seating.

posted by kurumi at 11:31 AM on December 3, 2004


A lot of shows passed Cincinnati by during the ban. The city waived it once for Springsteen in 2002, and some of the family members of the people who were killed at the Who concert were quite upset.

My husband at the time was at the Who concert, completely unaware of what had happened when the doors opened - since the show went on as planned. By the time he got home, I had heard that something terrible had happened and had no idea if he was alive or dead.

And the pictures of the kids who lost their lives - at the task report link - god, they look so young.

(thanks, pardon you, my friend)
posted by tizzie at 11:54 AM on December 3, 2004


Just to nitpick...

From the article: Two hundred fifty-pound men recounted being lifted off their feet, not being able to find the floor as they were swept along in the wave of people.

Where did they find 200 50-pound men??
posted by m0nm0n at 11:58 AM on December 3, 2004


They weren't just young - they were really, really, skinny.
posted by tizzie at 12:10 PM on December 3, 2004


I was a senior in high school in Cincinnati when this happened.
The next school day, one of my classes was spent listening to a classmate tell his horrific story of his attempts to enter the concert. He said the screams were awful to hear as they were screams of terror, and not generated from anticipation of the show. He had a friend die that night and the helplessness he felt as he heard her screams and the inability to help her was devastating.
I remember seeing a photo of piles of shoes in the local paper from folks who had been separated from their footwear in the crush of people.
posted by mikeinclifton at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2004


A couple of days after the tragedy in Cincinnati, some friends and I camped out all night to get some Rush tickets (December in Michigan). They only opened up one door to the box office and there was a huge crush to get in. The cops were holding people back with long batons as we shouted "Cincinnati! Cincinnati!". God we were stupid, 16 years old and feeling immortal.

I saw the Who on that tour a few days later, December 8 I believe, I can't believe that was 25 years ago.
posted by marxchivist at 1:29 PM on December 3, 2004


"Lost nine friends we'll never know, two years ago today."

It's still happening.
posted by quarantine at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2004


I remember this happening, as I was in the heyday of my concert going days in Nashville, TN. I'm surprised my mom still let me go to concerts after that, especially since I'm a small dude.

I do remember a couple concerts where the crowd started getting rowdy as we waited for the doors to open. It was scary.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:06 PM on December 3, 2004


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