During the protracted to-and-fro in the wake of Bloc Festival’s well-publicised collapse earlier this year, one party have been conspicuously quiet: Bloc.
Bloc have broken their silence with a lengthy statement on their Facebook page, and it offers their side of the story in unprecedented detail.
As expected, the statement reveals that Bloc had been instructed by their administrators to refrain from passing comment. It goes on to explain that the festival, although not oversold, was blighted by difficulties managing crowd intake:
“The area that was set aside for queuing before tickets were checked became overcrowded at around 21:00. This began to put potentially dangerous pressure on the searching lanes leading into the festival. At 21:27, following a breach of these lanes, ticket scanning was suspended to ease the pressure. Comprehensive ticket scanning was not properly resumed beyond this point. Knowledge of the suspension of scanning combined with ticket touting enabled people to gain entry to the event without having purchased a ticket from our website. We’ll never know exactly how many people this was.”
The statement also points a finger in the direction of the now-defunct London Pleasure Gardens, claiming that it was “no secret” that the site suffered from “non-completion of groundwork, venues and general infrastructure”, all of which “severely compromised” the festival. The overcrowding was blamed on the fact that missing infrastructure forced festival-goers to congregate in the northeast corner of the site. Bloc go into detail about LPG’s failure to adequately prepare for the event:
“Despite our frequent requests for an up-to-date build schedule, it was confirmed just two weeks before the festival that ‘The Hub’, a 2,800 capacity high-spec venue that we had contracted to host one of our main stages, was not going to be ready for us to use. Furthermore, the large area in the south east of the site where it was to be built remained shut so that construction works could be completed in time for the Olympic period”
The statement ends with a straight-up mea culpa: “All of you who bought tickets, travelled from afar and have supported us through many years of festivals, and parties and clubs before that, deserved better. Following five successful editions of the Bloc festival, this year we could not deliver what we had planned – we cannot stress enough how sorry we are for this. We’ve learned from these experiences and have humbly taken on board the criticisms levelled at us”.
To read the statement in full, head to the Bloc website. Resident Advisor are also running a revealing interview with Bloc founders Alex Benson and George Hull, in which the pair touch on issues raised in the statement. It makes for an interesting read, describing the “painful” process of calling time on the festival and their initial confidence in the LPG site. The interview also suggets that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Bloc: in Benson’s words, “We don’t think this needs to be the end”. Read the full interview here.