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I’ve been going to gigs by myself for 20 years — here’s why you should too

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Almost 7 in 10 women (73%) have never been to a concert alone (Picture: Getty Images)

An avid music fan, Nat Arney has been attending gigs alone for almost a decade.

Fed up with missing out on seeing bands and artists that she liked, but no one she knew wanted to see, she decided to take herself to her first solo event – to see rock band Ash – in 2015.

‘I just started getting tickets myself and going on my own – and if people wanted to come, they could get their own ticket and meet me there,’ Nat, who is 41 and lives in Worthing, tells Metro.co.uk.

At the beginning, she was nervous, but she quickly realised that other people were also going alone, which made her feel ‘less weird’ about it.

‘As a woman there’s always a fear about going to gigs alone, but I think this is the case whatever you do unfortunately,’ she adds.

Nat Arney has been going to gigs alone for almost a decade (Picture: Supplied)

‘When I was much younger and went with friends, I felt a lot less safe, but think that was because I was a teenager and had been targeted a few times,’ noting that she now feels much more confident flying solo.

The natural next step is going to festivals alone, but she doesn’t quite have the confidence to do that yet. So, for now, she’s worked on her own personal protocol, emphasising the importance of always having a ‘plan’ and letting someone ‘know where you are.’

‘I also recommend looking up to see if the venue has any safety procedures for people feeling uncomfortable or if there’s poor behaviour towards you, and also Safe Gigs for Women have some great advice for attendees but also, more importantly I think, for bystanders to act on,’ she details.

One in five (17%) feel nervous about travelling alone to a show (Picture: Getty Images)

Elsewhere, Sam Espensen has been attending gigs by herself since she was in her thirties. Now 50, she started doing it because, at the time, her friends were settling down and having kids, and so she found herself ‘missing out’ because ‘people weren’t always available’ to attend with her.

‘Now I make a deliberate choice to go alone, although I do also still go to gigs with friends,’ Sam, who lives in Bristol, shares. ‘I was definitely nervous at first, but actually, it’s a game changer.’

Being neurodivergent, she feels that it’s actually easier for her to attend alone, as she doesn’t like ‘feeling too crowded’ and can easily become overwhelmed.

Nat does occasionally still attend gigs with friends (Picture: Supplied)

‘I like arriving really early to scope out the venue, and usually leave before the end to avoid too many crowds. Going on my own means I can do whatever I like without impacting anyone else’s good time,’ she adds.

‘And in my experience it’s a great thing to do, because no one is judging you, and if you are feeling chatty there’s always people there happy to strike up a conversation.’

And, for 29-year-old genderfluid Lake Faith, they’ve found a community in attending gigs solo, connecting with other queer and alt-metal fans at shows. Their favourite band is The Wonder Years, and they wanted to ‘see them enough to get over my nerves about going somewhere alone.’

‘I’ve been going to them alone for years now – it feels like a way of treating myself; some time to be alone indulging in something I love. It helps me reconnect with myself,’ Lake, who lives in London, explains.

‘I also find it easier to get out of my head and just enjoy the music and atmosphere without worrying that people think I look silly. No one is looking at you if go by yourself to a gig. I have cried at gigs by myself several times – it’s very cathartic.’

Lake continues: ‘I now have a little routine where I get there, go to the bathroom, get my bearings, and then treat myself to a pint of cider and make my way to a good spot in the crowd. I have been known to do Duolingo or eat a protein bar between sets!

‘I never grew out of my emo phase and my taste in music is bad. A lot of my friends don’t like the bands I like, so if I didn’t go by myself I’d miss out on a lot. I’ve now joined a WhatsApp group for queer alt and metal fans.

‘Alt women have adopted me into their friend group on several occasions when I’ve been gigging alone and on other occasions me and other women and trans/non-binary folks who are there alone have grouped together – it’s a great way to make friends.’

Sam Espensen loves attending gigs alone (Picture: Supplied)

But not everyone is as confident attending gigs solo. A new study by Viagogo has found that almost 7 in 10 women (73%) have never been to a concert alone, and they’re twice as likely as men to avoid going solo on account of feeling unsafe or lacking confidence.

The research asked 2,000 Brits about their attitudes towards attending gigs alone, with the data finding that almost a quarter of fans lacked confidence in their own company (24%), wouldn’t feel safe (24%) or felt too anxious (22%).

Meanwhile, one in five (17%) confessed that they felt uneasy about travelling alone to a show, as a further one in seven (13%) said they’d feel ‘judged’ by others for enjoying a gig by themselves.

The results showed a clear gender divide, with half of men reporting going to a music event alone, compared to just over a quarter of women (27%).

In 2018, a YouGov poll uncovered shocking levels of harassment at music festivals specifically, with almost half of female festivalgoers (43%) under 40 reporting that they had faced unwanted sexual behaviour while at a festival.

Likewise, 22% of all festivalgoers faced assault or harassment, as did 30% of women overall.

Unfortunately, while these new statistics show that women continue to face gendered barriers to attending gigs solo, the future is certainly moving towards a world where we feel more confident doing so. As Taylor Swift’s Eras tour embarks on its European leg, Swifties the world over are sharing safety tips and making friendship bracelets to swap, and in doing so, making friends.

Likewise, there are myriad Facebook groups dedicated to solo festivalgoers, allowing them to connect with a community before attending.

But, for many, the point remains: everyone – regardless of gender, sexuality, race or anything else – should feel confident, safe, and happy going it alone.

So, grab your cowboy boys, your glitter, and perhaps even your friendship bracelets – because solo gigging is very much in.

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