On the Job: Exodus from Labor Day Experience VIP area unruly at best | AspenTimes.com

On the Job: Exodus from Labor Day Experience VIP area unruly at best

Anna Stonehouse
The Aspen Times

Weeks later, I keep reliving it in my head: the VIP-pocalypse the night of the evacuation of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience Lionel Richie concert.

I like to think that I see the good in most people, but that night — that night — some of the worst traits of humanity were unveiled (at least over in the VIP shuttle area).

First off, Lionel Richie, what the hell? Announcing an evacuation due to lightning and then running off the stage? You instilled panic in an audience filled with thousands of people when everyone needed to remain calm to evacuate the Snowmass venue. Aren't crooners supposed to be pretty slow-paced and relaxed?

Secondly, nothing like some rain to bring these VIP or "very important people" down to the level of us common folk. Watching the line for the VIP shuttle when the downpour started and people were frantically trying to get into the CME vans or find shelter reminded me of a scene from the movie "Titanic." The boats were filled with the upper class with room to spare but no one would budge to create space to save lives, or, in this case, just stay dry. Vans filled immediately and drivers had to close the shuttle van doors while reassuring people more shuttles were on the way. Some of the VIP guests were completely aghast their demands weren't being met. Guess what? We're all humans and we're all stuck in this situation together, you aren't any more special than the person next to you.

I happened to be photographing the concerts that night and since The Aspen Times is a sponsor, I had a VIP parking pass available to me. I made it into a shuttle relatively quick because I left the concert early after I filed my photos and was in line before the masses arrived. I sat in my seat grateful my camera equipment remained dry. Unfortunately, the evacuation plan, or somewhat lack of plan, for the JAS concerts led to mega traffic jams where shuttles were gridlocked in front of the lines of wet concert attendees desperately wanting a ride. People were clawing at the shuttle vans amid the downpour. I feel like I lived through a zombie apocalypse in my shuttle seat that night. A woman opened our shuttle door and pleaded with the people in my shuttle to give up their seats for her and her two frightened children. I was wedged in the very back corner of our shuttle completely ashamed no one would give up their seat. From what I saw, gentlemen don't exist in VIP when it rains. I felt guilty not getting out, but I had camera gear and needed to protect my livelihood. But I cannot get the visual out of my head of the men sitting by the door sheepishly looking away from this woman and her children. Another woman banged on the driver's window, which he rolled down, and reamed him out about people cutting her in line and him accepting them in the shuttle.

VIP, please check the weather forecast and pack the appropriate attire. A fur coat in the rain won't do you much good (which I saw) and if you do get caught in the rain, remain human and just get a little wet.

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You still could've been dancing (in the rain) "All Night Long." Shout out to the shuttle drivers and security that night — you endured a lot.

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