Xcel Energy Center Announces Strict ‘No Phones’ Policy For Dave Chappelle’s Minnesota Performance
Comedian Dave Chappelle is set to perform at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday, September 23. A few days ahead of this show, the venue shared details about a policy for attendees you might not have heard of before.
In an Instagram post published on Tuesday afternoon, Xcel Energy Center staff shared detailed information about a strict no-phone policy for Chappelle's performance, which includes other personal electronics like tablets and smartwatches.
To be clear, this is not an Xcel Energy Center policy - it is just being enforced by the venue.
Chappelle is a notable performer who is pushing the trend of phone-free performances, though he is not alone in this new concept for an era when everyone is connected all of the time.
Here's what to know about the phone-free policy at Xcel Energy Center
In the Instagram post, the staff at Xcel Energy Center explained attendees for the Chappelle performance will want to arrive to the venue early, as they anticipate this policy will make entry slower than for other events.
When you arrive, all phones, smartwatches, and related accessories will be secured in special pouches from a company called Yondr. These pouches will allow attendees to keep possession of their devices, but not use them during the performance.
The policy goes on to explain that anyone seen using a phone or other, similar device will be escorted out of the venue.
Because of this policy, attendees are encouraged to bring a credit card for purchases inside the venue, as phone-based payments will not be able to be made due to this policy.
The message from the venue concludes by thanking visitors for their cooperation and wishing attendees an enjoyable phone-free viewing experience.
Some early comments include one person saying "I wish every artist did this", supporting the concept of a distraction-free show where the contents of the performance can't be captured.
What are Yondr pouches?
Yondr is a company that was founded in 2014 with the idea of creating phone-free spaces. According to the company website, the founder of the company believed that society needed protected spaces away from the distractions of increasingly invasive technology.
This led to the creation of a specialized technology pouch where cell phones and other devices (like smartwatches) can be securely stored to allow for technology-free experiences, without leaving your devices behind.
The pouches have been used in spaces like schools and event venues for concerts and comedy shows. Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, Jack White, and Donald Glover (Childish Gambino) are among the biggest names quoted on the company's website endorsing the product and idea of phone-free spaces.
How do Yondr pouches work?
When you arrive at a phone-free venue, you are given a Yondr pouch, pictured above. You place your phone, smartwatch, etc. into the pouch and then the pouch is securely locked by staff. You keep your device, in the pouch, with you during the event.
If you need to use your device during the event, you will be able to go to a designated zone for phone/device usage, where a specialized device (also pictured above) is used to unlock your pouch to allow you to use your device. You'll just need to package your device back up and re-lock it before returning to the event.
Once the event concludes and it's time to leave, unlocking devices at exits will be used to open your pouch and allow you to grab your device(s) to leave, leaving the pouches behind at the venue.
This will make for slower entry and exit to events, but proponents argue it is worth it.
Why are performers starting to use phone-free policies with companies like Yondr?
There are a few interpretations of why performers are getting behind phone-free shows and devices like Yondr pouches.
The overarching theme stated by proponents like Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, and others is to create an environment where people are able to truly be in the moment and fully enjoy the performance.
Even the most disciplined people will have the itch to check their phones at least once or twice during an event. Or feel the need to try to capture a moment, which leads to the other main theme proponents appreciate about phone-free performances.
Creating phone-free zones also creates an environment where it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to capture audio, video, or photos of the performance. Besides being distracting and a way to reduce your connection to the show, visuals or audio captured by people in the audience can create challenges.
As Forbes points out, issues of copyright violations/intellectual property violations and "misuse and misinterpretation" of content can stem from capturing parts of (or the entirety of) shows.
There is a sect of people that have generated money and fame from capturing moments at concerts and events, and then publishing them online. At a minimum, this can take away from the surprise of attending a show for the first time and can create situations where people can illegally financially benefit from attending a performance.
A columnist with the Palm Springs Desert Sun argued that phone-free events, while they may feel jarring to people the first time around, might not be as bad as they may initially seem.
Like it or not, this is a trend that is likely to grow. As performers continue to adopt policies like these, you will likely see messages when buying tickets for shows that caution you about the event being phone-free. Just know that when you click "buy" on tickets, you're accepting the rules both the venue and the performing act(s) are putting in place. So be sure to read the fine print.