Boomers’ Latest Cause: The Right to Bear Chairs

A music festival sit-in might be the ticket to taking a stand against age discrimination

Gather up your folding chairs, boomers. It’s time to stage a sit-in. The cause: your right to party even though your knees aren’t what they once were.

In an opinion piece for Alternet titled “Boomers Shouldn’t Stand for the Music Scene’s Age Discrimination,” writer Peter Dreier slyly suggests that a sit-in at the Beverly Hills mansion of Jay Marciano, chairman of AEG Live, would be the perfect way to protest “the bait-and-switch scam” orchestrated by the organizers of the Desert Trip rock festival.

The fest, which has been dubbed “Oldchella” for a lineup of 70-plus rock legends including Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who and Neil Young, is happening in October but has long been sold out.

Standing Room Only

AEG Live, he writes, “lured fans to spend $424 apiece for general-admission tickets to the three-day event with the understanding, posted on the festival’s website, that concertgoers could bring their own seating. Then, after the event sold out — to 75,000 fans a day over two weekends in October — AEG Live posted this notice on the site: ‘No chairs or blankets will be allowed in the show.’”

Dreier, who teaches politics and chairs the Urban & Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College, is the author of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.

“Like all protest movements, the tactics have to match the issue. The baby boom generation has used the sit-in many times for many causes,” he goes on. “So it would be entirely within boomers’ protest comfort zone to haul their folding chairs and occupy the area in front of Marciano’s home.”

His suggestion smacks of satire, but he’s making a serious point about ageism.

“More and more music venues have removed most or all of the seating in order to pack in larger crowds. This might be a lucrative business practice, but it is also a form of age discrimination,” he concludes. “If today’s baby boomers want to fix the problem, they have to demand that clubs, concert halls and festival sponsors provide adequate seating. No ifs, ands or butts.”

By Heidi Raschke
Heidi Raschke is a longtime journalist and editor who previously was the Executive Editor of Mpls-St. Paul Magazine and Living and Learning Editor at Next Avenue. Currently, she runs her own content strategy and development consultancy.@heidiraschke

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