Breaking The Concert Camping Stereotype In 5 Days


Kiara and her newly made friends posing with a sign they made to grab Louis Tomlinson’s attention. Photo provided by Kiara Zabala/ The Runner

Kiara Zabala , Staff Writer

Camping out for concerts has a very toxic stigma around it, but after this past weekend I have a new outtake on it. Within these past several days, I discovered some of the kindest souls on the streets of Los Angeles as we all came together to support our favorite artist, Louis Tomlinson. 

In this day and age, concert-goers no longer arrive an hour before the concert starts, but instead will camp out in tents days before the concert with a hope of getting the very best view of their favorite artist. Whether it be rain or shine, die hard fans are willing to sleep on the streets in front of the venue in order to secure their spot. Although this was an extremely tiring situation and my back is still in pain days later, I would do it over again a thousand times. 

When I first got my Louis Tomlinson tickets back in late 2019, I had no intention of camping out for days on end. However, I found myself driving up on Thursday night and did not come back into town until late Monday afternoon. Camping out for a concert was certainly not what I expected, but I wouldn’t change the experience for the world.  

My friend and I first arrived at the venue around 7a.m. on Friday morning. You would think that we were the very first people in line; yet we were numbers 23 and 24. The numbering was fan-made in order to keep the control and spots of people. The numbering was actually quite helpful when situations arose of fans trying to cut their way to be further up in line.  

The crowd waiting in the streets for the concert to start.
The crowd waiting in the streets for the concert to start.
Photo provided by Kiara Zabala/ The Runner

Although my friend and I brought various blankets, snacks, and sweaters, we were not prepared for the next several days of sleeping on the streets of LA From getting sunburned to having to get an uber to use the restroom in the morning to driving somewhere to use the showers. Camping out for my concert was certainly not to be taken lightly. 

This was my first time doing anything like this. By the time the first concert rolled around on Saturday night, I was sunburned and sleep deprived. My feet were hurting from standing and I was just ready to give up and head to the back of pit. However, when we finally were let inside the venue, I was number 24 which allowed me to get barricade on that first night. I stood there in awe and then proceeded to cry at the fact of my favorite artist would be standing right there in front of me and might even notice me. And I was correct, he did in fact notice me several times that first night. He even sent a wink my way that I fortunately have on video forever.  

When the second concert came around, I was number 109 in line which led me to believe that my chances of getting barricade were shot. Yet again, I was able to get barricade where Louis noticed me once more. I was losing my voice and was beginning to get sore but seeing him in the flesh after years of being a fan was worth it all. 

Fans sitting in chairs waiting in the streets for the concert to start.
Fans sitting in chairs waiting in the streets for the concert to start.
Photo provided by Kiara Zabala/ The Runner

Black Squirrel Radio wrote an article back in 2019 that read, “Camping culture hasn’t been much of a problem until the last couple of years… In current day, these people flock by the dozens, arriving days before the show is supposed to take place.” Camping for concerts was not always a thing but some bands, such as One Direction and BTS, have such a huge following that they are so passionate about them, it causes camping to occur for longer than average timespans. This is not a bad thing, simply this just shows how truly dedicated some fans can become.  

Since One Direction was Tomlinson’s old band, a lot of his fans have followed him as he begins the journey as a solo artist. LTHQ (Louis Tomlinson Head Quarters) Official wrote an article on Feb. 5, “Louis Tomlinson’s tour stopped in Louis’ namesake city – St. Louis. Fans camped out in the snow before the show and Charlie, Louis’ videographer, was seen filming the tents!” Fans of Tomlinson surely are dedicated, not even a little snow can keep his fans off the streets. 

Overall, my review on camping? Sleeping outside on the streets of LA where a coyote ran past while we were sleeping. Having to wear two hoodies and blankets, yet still shiver. Applying sunscreen in the morning even though you will still get burned by the sun. Worrying that you will pass out because you haven’t yet been able to get your hands on something to drink. 

Would I do it all over again? Will I be doing this in the future when Tomlinson comes back to California? Of course. 

Although camping isn’t for everyone, I have never felt more accepted and safer in a crowd of people. We all looked out for one another out there, by doing food runs and taking turns buying cases of water. Sleeping on the concrete was not the most ideal, but waking up to smiling faces as we moved closer to the venue was more than worth it. Meeting people who cared to listen to what I had to say about him as I spoke and did not just brush me off as some crazy girl because they too felt all that I felt for him. Making eye contact with Louis Tomlinson after following his overall journey throughout the music industry he’s made in the world for over the past ten years. Yes. It was all worth it. 

If I had the chance to do it all over, I would not do anything different. My back still does hurt and the sunburn is finally fading away. Although my body will forget the effect the elements had on me, the memories I made the past few days will last me a lifetime.