Motion has long been crowned the best club in Bristol. More broadly than that even, one of the best things about the city. People travel here to browse the Banksy’s, stroll the suspension bridge, and then, when night falls, sweat it out for 10 hours in the ex warehouse that is Motion.
And who can blame them? The club is known for its huge names, its stellar production and, perhaps most importantly, its inclusive crowd; a crowd who are there for the music, not to pull, fight or take a photo with someone from Love Island. It’s less of a night out and more of a spectacle.
So naturally when Bicep, one of the biggest new names in electronic music, were announced for the 2017 In:Motion series, tickets went fast. We planned ahead though, we bought our tickets three months in advance, we were excited, we were going to see Bicep.
Except we didn’t.
Let us explain. When we first arrived (at 11:15pm) the queue was bad, not horrendous, but objectively bad. The usual process began. Half an hour into the queue, men were breaking off to piss against walls whilst girls looked to the direction of the portaloos in anguish. Fortunately, however, by midnight, we were passed the barriers, through the security check, and into the club.
Sounds tough, but we were the lucky ones. After bumping into a mate, he informed me of his queueing situation. Perhaps however, ‘queueing’, may be too generous a term for what he described. He waited two hours to get into the club, the originally half orderly line had dissolved into a crowd, ticket scanners were welcoming people in, ticket or no ticket. To put it bluntly, the queue was fucked. But, ah well, at least we were in early. We got to see the main act, right?
Wrong. We got to the main room at 1 (Bicep were on at 2), we found ourselves a space, and got dancing. But as the clock ticked closer to 2 and the room started filling up, dancing became head nodding, which became fighting against the push of the crowd, which became desperately keeping an eye out for our friends in the constantly swaying, tightly packed room. With 10 minutes to go, movement was almost impossible so, in the eternal pursuit of the dance, we decided to head to the back for a bit more space. .
The further back we got, the more tightly packed it became. People were constantly pushing in every direction, fruitlessly searching for space. We were struggling for breath, constantly being battered from all sides, at this point people were less interested in the music and more concerned about getting out the room. With no direction from security, the atmosphere was frantic.
A door at the very back of the main room was opened and we managed to escape through the riverside smoking area, thinking we could get in to see Bicep from the Marble Factory. When we got there however, security were screaming at people to get back as no one else was allowed in the main room. Hearing ‘Just’ through a wall to a chorus of ‘Get the fuck back’ wasn’t quite what I had waited three months for.
But not seeing the headliner isn’t what’s important here, this isn’t just irritating, this isn’t just two pissed off students who didn’t get their money’s worth. It was genuinely unsafe. In light of the recent tragedy at Motion where only a couple of weeks ago a teenager died at the venue, the assumption would be that the nightclub would respond with a heightened sense of how best to care for its (admittedly risk taking) customers. If there had been a medical emergency on the dance floor that night, there is no way they would have been able to reach the individual effectively. More than that, the environment itself was a health risk. Everything was high intensity - the elbows to your face, being shoved from side to side, the general atmosphere of escalating panic. Dotted through the crowd were those suffering with panic attacks, at the back of the room bar staff dragged those who were being crushed over the bar, people were simply just trying to get out. This wasn’t the Motion we’ve come to know and love.
If you’re doubting the objectivity of the piece and maybe fancy an entertaining (if slightly jarring) read, then check out the comments on Motion's apology post. Or, if you can’t be bothered to scroll through hundreds of angry comments, we’ve selected some of the highlights for your reading convenience.
Speaking of Motion’s apology, some things just don’t hold up. They say the queue was slow due to security measures being ‘stepped up’. Speaking from personal experience the opposite was true. It was a case of the usual 10 second pat down and wallet search and in fact, unlike previous nights at Motion this year, there was no drugs dog. So, in actuality, security was more relaxed than ever.
The ‘main room issue’ apparently was because it’s ‘difficult to balance the two rooms when it comes to headliner[s]’. Fair enough, but having not been able to get into the main room to see Bicep, we headed to the second room which was at least three quarters full. Obviously we cannot say for sure but it seems obvious to us, and others, that the event was hugely oversold.
Motion has long been a cultural centre point of Bristol, bringing the biggest names in electronic music to our doorstep. But it seems that last Friday Motion’s management chose money over music. The death of Drake Morgan-Baines a few weeks prior, or the 'incident’ as they so deftly put it in their apology, should have been more of a reminder than was ever needed that Motion needs to be able to effectively care for their crowd.
This isn’t us moaning about not getting to see Bicep (although that really did suck), this is a condemnation of prioritising ticket sales over human lives.
JESSICA BLACKWELL & DANIEL BRASHAW
Photo: Time Magazine