For 97 people to die in a nightclub fire requires heroic effort all around. There’s the band, who neglected even to get permission for a pyrotechnic display they shouldn’t be putting on in a low-ceilinged room in the first place. There are the owners, who didn’t bother to supervise the stage set. And then there are the unfortunate patrons themselves, who, being Great White fans after all, didn’t concentrate in the right tail of the distribution. When the display caught fire, most of the fans just stood and cheered; all part of the show. The place held 300 people and wasn’t filled to capacity. All four fire exits were open and clearly marked, and there were at least two minutes to find them before there was too much smoke to see. Nonetheless nearly half of the patrons managed to die, with most of the bodies found piled at the front door, where the “victims,” if that is the term, stampeded and trampled each other to death in a panic. Sometimes stupidity is criminal; sometimes it is fatal.

Aaron Haspel | Posted February 25, 2003 @ 9:40 AM | Culture

3 Responses to “Confederacy of Dunces”

  1. 1 1. Henry

    Neglected to get permission? Depends on who you believe. Yes, I agree that even if thay HAD permission, was pretty stupid to have pyrotechnics in that building. But to say that the people who died were stupid, is tasteless at best. One’s first inclination when something like this happens is to exit the way they came in. Do you routinely scope out all exits when you go to a club? These people had mere minutes, and panicked. That was tragic, not stupid.


  2. 2 2. Aaron Haspel

    Since other club owners seem united in their belief that Great White never asked permission, I find it hard to believe they made an exception here. It is always tasteless to point out how someone contributes to his own demise; but two minutes is a long time to find a fire exit in a small club, provided you don’t spend it gaping at the fire on stage and cheering.


  3. 3 3. Henry

    "Yesterday, a Massachusetts man said his former band used pyrotechnics routinely during gigs at The Station — including on April 27, 2000, when the club was under the Derderians’ management.

    Guitarist Rev Tyler, 35, of Methuen, said he has video footage of his band, Lovin’ Kry, playing The Station on that date using showers of sparks, as Great White did in the ill-fated show Thursday night.

    Tyler said the band always asked someone at a club before using pyrotechnics, and he presumed someone with his band asked permission when they played The Station in 2000. Pyrotechnics are "one of the things we were known for," he said, along with skimpily clad women dancing on stage with the band. The special effects gave the show "glitter, glam, flash."", taken from http://www.kmsb.com/bits/KMSB_bits_clubfire_022403.12f3099.html. It is easy to say that because other clubs are claiming to have had pyrotechnics used without permission, that it is true. But by same logic, since other bands have said they got permission to use pyrotechnics at The Station, that Great White must have also gotten permission. As I said, it all depends on who you believe. And 120 seconds is not a long time. What happened is a tragedy, it may even be a crime, but what it definitely was NOT is a "confederacy of dunces"


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