How to De-escalate Tension in Large Crowds: Advice from Music Festival Producers

Justin Moss, our Founder & CEO, has been producing music festivals for 20+ years, and it’s safe to say that he’s learned a lot about large crowds. Whether you are planning on attending a demonstration or supporting Black Lives Matter in another way, here’s what we would do if we could be right there with you:

  • First and foremost, come from a place of empathy, support, kindness, and love. 
  • Keep calm and alert at all times.
  • Be aware of your surroundings – take note of possible exits, first aid tent, officers in uniform, etc. 
  • Respect personal and private property. 
  • Consider handing out free water/food – it improves the overall mood of the crowd. 
  • Do not respond to taunts, threats, or agitation.  
  • Understand the context of agitated behavior – you can try and address the source of the problem.
  • Maintain an even tone of voice and do not try to “out shout” aggressive individuals. 
  • Maintain eye contact as a way for the agitated person to realize that everyone is human. 
  • Allow angry persons a chance to “vent” their feelings verbally. Actively listen to the person while waiting for them to pause for a breath and then take advantage of the opening to guide them towards calmness. 
  • Try to find common ground.

If de-escalation is not possible, get yourself and others to safety as quickly as possible. Keep calm, avoid running, and don’t turn your back to the situation until you are at a safe distance. 

Our team is here to help. If you’re interested in chatting with one of our team members about managing crowds, events, or ideas for experiential marketing, just say hello!