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Bloc: Met Blame Rain, Organisers Apologise
The Quietus , July 9th, 2012 06:45

The fall out from Friday’s disastrous events

As many of you will doubtless be aware, this weekend’s Bloc festival - set to be one of, if not the biggest event on UK dance music’s calendar - met a sticky end on Friday evening. The Quietus was present at the London Pleasure Gardens as the whole thing unravelled in spectacular fashion - you can read our brief account of it here.

It’s still not wholly clear where the fault lies for the disaster, but there have been a few developments over the weekend. Firstly, Bloc’s organisers, Baselogic, issued an updated statement yesterday - which is an improvement on their initial missive not least because it includes the apology many attendees had been waiting for.

The full statement, taken from the Bloc site, is as follows: “We are currently gathering information about Friday night's events. We are also working to ensure that everyone will be refunded for their tickets. Please bear with us while we do this. Thanks to all of you, as well as the many artists and crew who travelled across the world to come to Bloc - we are so sorry that we couldn't deliver the experience we had planned. And thanks so much to the event control, security, stewards, police and public who worked together to ensure that no one came to harm during the peaceful evacuation. This is far and away the most important result of the night. For those of you who are frustrated and angry - we hear you. For those sending love and support - thank you. More news soon. The Bloc team x”.

Secondly, Dummy managed to speak to somebody at the Metropolitan Police Press Office on Saturday afternoon. They confirmed that nobody had been seriously injured at the event, and stated that “the decision to close the venue was the festival organiser’s – though the Met were there to advise on the implications of either staying open or closing.” More puzzingly, the Met’s spokesperson blamed the disaster on rain, suggesting that “people hiding under cover during the showers, creat[ed] huge ‘pinch-points’. [This created the issues], rather than any over-ticketing.”

It's the Quietus' opinion that this is a totally inadequate explanation - not least because attendees report only minimal rain for the duration of the evening, but also because, given that all of the stages were enclosed, clearly people would have been trying to get inside to see music regardless of the weather. Many have suggested that the site’s layout was ill-considered, with all of the stages clustered at one end of the site, and that this could have resulted in pinch points - nonetheless, the severity of overcrowding suggests some underlying blunder on the part of either the organisers, the venue or ticketing company CrowdSurge.

In trying to understand the Met’s spurious explanation, some have suggested that they and Newham Council may have a vested interest in keeping the Pleasure Gardens open due to the custom it will bring to the area during the Olympics this summer. For their part, the venue’s organisers have issued a pretty unhelpful statement in which they seem more keen on advertising upcoming events rather than addressing what happened.

In the meantime, promoters and artists did a heroic job of organising last minute replacement events on Saturday, making it one of the most extraordinary nights of clubbing so far this year. XOYO hosted Flying Lotus (with an unexpected guest appearance from The Weeknd), Oneohtrix Point Never, Factory Floor and Oneman; Martyn and Jacques Greene appeared at the Peckham Palais; Hyperdub took over the Rhythm Factory, hosting the majority of their current roster along with another appearance from the ever-energetic FlyLo; even Venus Williams, fresh from her Wimbledon Doubles win, was reportedly out on the town. The Quietus, meanwhile, made the journey down to Peckham to see Plex host Surgeon and Perc at the Bussey Building.

Even so, the weekend’s events will no doubt leave many with a deep sense of dissatisfaction. Although it’s not yet clear where blame should be placed - and speculation at this stage is largely unhelpful - It’s difficult to see how the reputation of Bloc and its organisers won't be damaged by the debacle. Not least, their response - deleting irate comments on their Facebook page, waiting an unnecessarily long time before issuing an apology - has left something to be desired. More information as we have it.