July 7, 2012 12:13

London's Bloc festival shut down over crowd safety fears

The festival site was evacuated in the early hours of this morning and today's events will not go ahead

London's Bloc festival shut down over crowd safety fears
Bloc 2012 was shut down in the early hours of this morning (July 7) over fears for crowd safety - before a headline set from Snoop Dogg could take place.

The electronic music festival, which had been taking place at the London Pleasure Gardens, will not go ahead today (July 7).

A statement on the Bloc website reads: "By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns. We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early. Bloc will not open on Saturday 7th July so please don't come to the site. Stand by for full information on refunds."

In an earlier statement, London Pleasure Gardens confirmed that they acted on the advice of the Metropolitan Police and began a "controlled shut down" of the site at 00.45am this morning (July 7). Explaining their decision to evacuate the festival, organisers said: "Our number one concern is always public safety, and sometimes tough decisions need to be made by on-site security, but we always act as we believe is necessary at the time to best protect visitors."

NME's Louis Pattison, who was at Bloc last night, described the situation as follows: "The site was far too small for the numbers of punters who'd got in - all the tents were full with large queues outside, so festival-goers had nowhere to go but add to the queues. The security arrangements seemed inadequate and staff seemed overwhelmed."

He reported that, upon his arrival at the east London festival around 8pm, "There were plainly too many people and not enough security", which led to queues of up to two hours just to enter the site.

Inside the London Pleasure Gardens, scenes were even more chaotic. By around 9pm, every venue on the 60,000 square-metre site was surrounded by a huge queue. Two hours later, Pattison described the situation outside the Resident Advisor stage as "like a stampede". Around this time, the festival's main stage was shut down and word spread that a headline set from Snoop Dogg had been cancelled - although there was no official announcement from Bloc's organisers.

The other stages began closing down shortly afterwards, but in spite of the disappointment, Pattison reported that the crowd's reaction was "amazingly good-natured, considering". He witnessed a few angry exchanges with staff, but on the whole people were "pretty positive" and began to vacate the site as requested.

Today's second and final day of Bloc 2012 was due to include performances from Battles, Gary Numan, Ellen Allien and a headline set from Orbital. The annual festival, devoted to electronic music of all genres, began in 2007, but this is the first year that it has taken place in London.

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