By: Charlie Westrick
Back in November, my friend made an interesting observation while we were covering “Wayhome for the Holidays”. Despite it being an all-ages show, I may have been the only one in the room still in my teens. I didn’t make much of it at first, but then I remembered my friend was a huge fan of the first band, The Beaches, and would’ve loved to come with me.
About a month later, Solaris, a two-day EDM festival, was held at the nightclub Rebel. This festival, along with another show, were all-ages and thus derided by the majority of the Toronto Rave Community — a Facebook group with over 55,000 members that spreads information about upcoming EDM events in Toronto. Since then, I’ve started to wonder why Toronto is hostile towards all-ages shows.
Venues such as the Silver Dollar, Danforth Music Hall and Lee’s Palace only allow patrons who are 19 years old. That means most all-ages shows take place in DIY venues such as Soybomb and Faith/Void. While DIY shows are important for cultivating scenes and cultures, they’re not exactly safe spaces. Last year, Ghost Ship Warehouse, a DIY space in Oakland, California, burned down and killed dozens because it did not follow safety precautions set by the fire department. According to NOW Magazine, the DIY space Johnnyland was accused a year or so ago of not doing enough about allegations of sexual assaults that occurred at events. What makes all of this worse is that all-ages shows tend to be seen as illegitimate or less cool by bands in Toronto.
This stigma also extends to all-ages patrons. During Solaris, the animosity towards the underage crowd became somewhat unbearable. Group shots of high-schoolers would be mocked and ridiculed. Here’s the thing though: ravers, regardless of age, are listening to the same ear-splitting music, doing the same drugs and engaging in the same risky behaviors. Just because a photo of minors doing something objectionable appears on the internet doesn’t mean those above 19 years old aren’t also acting the same way. Age does not equate wisdom. Torontonians seem to forget that when they become adults, they start mocking kids who are in the situation they used to be in, and this malice often comes off as hypocritical.
I moved to Toronto from Washington, D.C. Every concert I attended was all-ages and it was never a problem. It’s why I personally feel like I was thrown a curveball when I saw the way all-ages shows are viewed here. It’s moronic, not just from a cultural standpoint but an economic one too.
A jointly-conducted study by the Entertainment Retail Association and the British Phonographic Industries last year found that millennials consume more music than any other age demographic. By dropping the age limit, concert venues would boost profits by catering to the population that wants to see their idols live. Frankly, it’s foolish to turn away showgoers just because you can’t serve them alcohol. If you’re worried about underage drinking, buy an ID scanner to catch fakes, frisk everyone at the door for both weapons and flasks, or at least get a black marker to put an X on the hands of minors. It’s really not that hard.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-opinion/let-the-kids-have-their-fun/.