Monday, September 30, 2013

...wasn't the best laid plan

Last night The Hubs and I went to see Jack Johnson in concert at E.J. Thomas Hall on the University of Akron's campus. We've never been there before so I was all giddy with excitement to see it.

Concert halls overall interest me. While growing up I was always on the stage, singing, dancing, name it. Then I started doing the set designs (thankfully I had an amazing drama teach in high school who understood where my passion was) and then one day I remember standing on the stage in my high school. I was the only one in the auditorium. It was so quiet. I looked around at all the awful wooden chairs (that couldn't have been more uncomfortable...honestly, it was like sitting on a piece of plywood with a matching seat back. And they wondered why attendance was always low...just sayin')

ANYWAY, as I stood on the freshly painted black stage, I looked into the auditorium and really took it in. The way the lights were hidden from the audience. The acoustic panels that lined the walls. The carpeted aisle ways. I mean, it wasn't going to win an award for best theater design, but what it did was open my eyes to the why of design. Why did they need to use those panels on the walls? Why didn't they have carpet under the chairs, only down the aisles?

Looking back now, I can easily answer these things...but then, at the ripe ol' age of 16 I stood there and just wondered. And that started my affair with the way concert halls/auditoriums were designed.

So we walk into the hall and first thing we noticed were these GIANT silver weights hanging over our heads in one of the lobby areas. The Hubs said, "what the heck are those?" and I casually said, "suspension weights!" (Honestly, sometimes I hear the words that come out of my mouth and can't even believe I know this stuff!) So then my mind started ticking...what are they holding up? Where do those cables go to? WHY, WHY, WHYYYYYYY?? (You might be wondering, "why didn't you take a picture, Erin?" Ohhh, that's simple. Because I forgot!)

Then we walked up about 10 steps to our door. Once inside the door, there were three rows in front of us. One row that you needed to take a step up to get to. One row that was level with the doorway. And one row that was a step down. We were on the stepped down row. So we meander to our seats, 34 & 35. Which, lucky for us, was almost center stage (woot!) bad part was that there were no aisles. Meaning, once we walked down that step, you had to walk in front of each chair to get to your chair. Each row of seats ran the width of the auditorium- about 60 seats.

We amble past the 33 other seats and make our way into our chairs. I notice right off the bat that they are comfy and how much leg room we had...and then it occurred to me WHY we have so much leg room. Because people will be walking past us. Possibly stepping on our toes (depending upon how many drinks they've had...) but definitely making us bend our legs awkwardly to the side and sucking in our breath (because that helps?!) as someone passes us.

Almost immediately as I sit down, I realize I'm trapped. And what happens next? The URGENT need to pee. (Prior to feeling trapped, the bladder and I were cool. I look around and realize there's no way out,all of a sudden- its a water balloon ready to explode. Damn!) Thankfully the opening band was awesome, for the life of me I couldn't understand what the name of it was...but it was a guy with a guitar, a drummer and two lady singers. One song he sung was called Hockey Teeth- referring to a girl he dated who had huge front teeth. (Awww.)

When his set was over, the house lights rose and The Hubs and I read each others minds, got up and walked to the restroom. Nooooooooow, let me preface this with this:
This is NOT my first time going to a major event (concert, sporting event, any place with lots of people). I understand there will be longer lines for the ladies room then for the men's room. I GET THAT.

However, there was ONE entrance to the restroom. ONE. You know what this has in common with that boy band, One Direction? The word ONE. Singular. Uno. Almost nada.

The Hubs and I decide, since taking one look at the cluster f*&^ line to the restroom, that he would be done before I would be. He would probably have enough time to knit a sweater for me too while I'm on my expedition. I make my way to the top of the steps and look down the U-Shaped staircase at a mob of smartly dressed, overly tanned (its the end of September, in Ohio- I'm sure their tans are natural. Cough), carrying-too-large-a-purse-for-a-concert women and I just want to weep.

I know I'm a girl. I know this kinda thing should be second nature to me at this point. But here's the thing. I purposefully left the house last night (as I do most nights when we go out) without my purse. I hand my ID to The Hubs, put my strawberry Chap Stick in my pocket and I'm good. I don't feel the need/urge/desire to lug a purse with me. So, as we are standing like cattle being lead to slaughter, I'm being poked in the back by a big purse, but I can't take a step in front of me, or else I'll be stabbed with a Coach purse being worn on the shoulder of a woman who must not have a nose that works because GOOD LORD, its like she went threw a car wash of perfume. It was just awwwwwwwful. (Yes, I'm totally complaining. In situations like this, I would prefer to be a man. Go in, pee, wash my hands, leave. Simple.)

Ok, I'm going to stop complaining for a second because here is my point. This was a BAD DESIGN CHOICE. I immediately tune into my designer frequency in my head and start a list. It went something like this:
- Only one bathroom? Really?
- You locate the bathroom in the basement, so you have to take the stairs to it. Most women wear high heels when getting dressed up. Couldn't this pose a problem for some? (I wore my new Nike's...gotta break 'em in good, right?)
- The carpeting that was chosen to line the many staircases was dark purple (which, dark colors show EVERYTHING that lands on them). The cleaning crew either needs a vacuum with more sucking power, or they need to replace the carpeting. It looked like a large, fuzzy cat that never gets brushed lives on each stair.

Now, let's talk about safety for a second. At the end of the concert (which was totally fab, by the way!) we stand up to leave. As we are waiting to walk up that one step and out the door, I realize something. Each side of the rows has one door that feeds three rows of seats. There's about 60 seats in each row...split that in half, 30 seats. 30 x 3= 90. So about 90 people, at one time, are trying to leave out of the SAME DOOR. Do you see where, if there was a fire or some other accident that this would cause major panic? 89 other people trying to fit through a 36" wide opening, and then fighting your way down the stairs, to an exterior exit. As I'm thinking of this, I start getting a little frantic (only in my mind of course. I didn't start hyperventilating or asking for a paper bag to breathe through...) but doesn't this seem like it wasn't the best laid plan?

And on top of that, there are no other exits. Meaning, there are no center aisles for people to move through. You sit on that middle balcony section and your trapped. The only exits are those six doors (there might have been more, math has never been my strong suit)...or you could always jump down?

Bottom line, my brain never turns off. This is a bad thing at when we are trying to leave the concert hall and I'm planning my emergency exit route. I know everyplace I go to won't be perfect. I'm not asking for perfection. I'm just asking for more common sense? One bathroom just seems dense to me. Knowing that people are only getting taller and not having an aisle to move through- but instead asking Lurch to slide his legs over, doesn't seem like a great way to make new friends.

So, while I ended up finding out that the suspension cables are used to move the ceiling grid in the concert hall to accommodate the acoustics of the performance...I wasn't really impressed.

(Man, should I start writing an opinion column for a newspaper?? Wait, they still print newspapers, right?)