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Put the Cell Phones Away – Yondr is Here to Stay

(Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Cell phones. There’s nothing more irritating than shelling out your hard earned money to see a show, then end up staring at the back of someone’s iPhone all night. Well, except for one thing. Looking up and seeing an entire crowd full of them. You could just move, but oh look … thanks to some strange white glow you can literally see there’s no end in sight. Guess you’ll just have to watch your favorite DJ through a four-inch screen, shaking around as it dances three feet from your face. Well fear not, cellular curmudgeons, because help has finally arrived.

In 2014 we introduced you to Yondr, a San Francisco-based company with the goal of creating phone free spaces in public places; whether it’s at a concert or a recent string of standup comedy shows. Yondr works by requiring attendees to place their cell phone in a provided case, which automatically locks when you’re within a phone-free space. Should the need arise to take a selfie, or call the babysitter, a simple walk outside the no phone zone is all it takes. Last year, Yondr celebrated their first full year of operation. And as the reviews trickle in there seems to be a general acceptance, of course not without some expected hesitation.

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At first, people were weary of not having immediate access to their cell. We’ve grown so attached it seems like we forget we lived in a time before everything existed at our fingertips. But as patrons reluctantly locked their phones and stood unplugged from the rest of the world, they found themselves enjoying their time just that much more. Sure, there’s the odd report of someone sneaking in a phone, or even getting escorted out. But the mob mentality alone will pressure most people into forgetting about the screen and capturing those amazing moments the way they were meant to be.

“At the end of the whole experience, I liked it and I wished they had done it with (other) shows. … To be honest, the fact that nobody got to use their phone was nice. You got to focus on hanging out with your friends.” – Rommel Paraiso, show patron. 

Besides, when your general focus is on the performance and not what’s in your hands, it creates a better environment for everyone involved. A picture with your friends is one thing, you could still bring a camera for those moments, but the days of staring at the back of someone’s cell phone may be numbered. And that’s not a bad thing. No cell phone, or any phone for that matter, can emulate the actual sights and sounds you experience live. Leave the video clips for the people that are hired to be there and do what you do best. Just dance.

How do you feel about the use of cell phones at EDM events and festivals? Are companies like Yondr necessary? Let us know on social media or comment below!

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Part man, part buffalo, part maple syrup. Pretty much the Canadian version of Grizzly Adams.

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