Long before the Interweb made it increasingly easy for the scalpers to scoop up the majority of great seats to a show, you only have a couple of options.
The only ways to secure those seats for yourself was to either hammer the box office’s phone lines in the hopes that you managed to crack the wall of busy signals and were able to talk to a human being to pick your seats (with the help of the seating chart found in your local yellow pages). That was a method that is still employed to a limited degree today, but the Interweb is still the preferred choice. The other method was far more challenging and required some planning and willingness to lose a solid night’s sleep. That method of course was the Camp Out, this was the way you ensured your spot at the front of the line when the box office opened.
For many the Camp Out was an integral part of the concert going experience, you staked out your spot, set up any chairs, tents and coolers you had with you and settled in for a long interesting night ahead. It wasn’t hard to spot the pros, they packed light and didn’t have much more than a folding chair, blanket and book, knowing that when the line compressed, they didn’t have to struggle with their supplies. The rookies were equally easy to spot, tents, blankets, big coolers and a lot of gear that would serve them well out in the wilderness, but not so much waiting for concert tickets (the tear down was fun to watch as you walked away ,tickets in hand).
Inevitably you would make friends, swap stories, much like you would around a campfire, but the only glow here was that of the overhead lights of the arena/grocery store. Someone usually had a guitar to serenade the group, there were always the obligatory assholes who didn’t know proper etiquette and pissed the majority of people off when sleep was clearly lacking. It was ultimately a typical party and was always an adventure.
Sadly though, it has taken a backseat to a bed, alarm clock and a warm notebook. People log in, queue up and play a game of ticket roulette, maybe getting somewhat lackluster seats and tossing them back in with the hopes of improving their station, sometimes achieving that goal, other times ending up in the nose bleeds. Some would argue the Camp Out is a rather antiquated way to secure concert tickets, others would say it’s a rite of passage.
Sadly you don’t see these lineups when a major concert is announced, instead people head to their computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones to try and secure those perfect seats. If the promoters were to permit a 15 minute head start to the box offices to allow those dedicated souls who braved the cold hard night a better chance at great seats, you may see less Scalping as those who really wanted the great seats could get them. You would also see the return one of key parts of the concert going experience.