Advanced search

using a fan at the theater, was I being unreasonable?

(121 Posts)
carlajean Mon 13-Jan-14 22:53:28

We were at the theater tonight and a woman two rows in front had a fan that she was using most of the way through the second half. It was a tense drama, but having a white fan constantly flicking backwards and forwards really put me off. Was I unreasonable to approach her afterwards and tell her (calmly) how annoying it was? She looked at me as though I was mad, and now I feel an idiot AND irritated.

Caitlin17 Tue 14-Jan-14 00:10:01

I usually have a fan with me for events in the Edinburgh Festival and Edinburgh Fringe as surprisingly it can get very warm up here in August, venues are packed and often venues are not air conditioned.

Whether I use it depends more on what others are doing. If there are other people fanning themselves with flyers ( which one collects by the bucket load at that time of year) then I will use it. I wouldn't if no one else was. The etiquette of fan usage seems to find its own level. Outwith the festivals I would take a fan if it had been a hot day but would only use it at the interval.

Caitlin17 Tue 14-Jan-14 00:11:06

I don't see the point of telling her afterwards. It won't undo matters.

Rosencrantz Tue 14-Jan-14 04:09:11

I take it that you've never had a hot flush OP!

Yabu. Just because you're not hot, doesn't mean other people are mad for being too warm.

kmc1111 Tue 14-Jan-14 05:58:53

That would seriously annoy me if it was in my line of sight. Much more than the light from a phone. It's the movement that's the problem, it would keep catching your eye, and it's almost impossible to ignore something like that.

TwatWeevil Tue 14-Jan-14 06:01:42

I've been in a theatre before that handed out fans to audience members on entry, because they knew the place got hot and didn't want people to faint. I don't recall all the fanning being distracting, sorry.

SiliconeSally Tue 14-Jan-14 06:25:00

Totally bad manners to sit in a serious tense drama flapping away with a white fan.

diddl Tue 14-Jan-14 06:50:55

"Totally bad manners to sit in a serious tense drama flapping away with a white fan."

Absolurely-she should have useed a black one!

coco44 Tue 14-Jan-14 08:09:08

So how conmea diabled child stimming in a theatre is OK, but a menopausal woman fanning is not?

SilverApples Tue 14-Jan-14 08:13:26

One is not under the person's control, the other is a choice. hmm

Caitlin17 Tue 14-Jan-14 08:15:28

twatweevil me too, but that's what I meant about the audience finding its own level of etiquette. If there is an assumption it's ok it will be ok. If only one person is doing it, then possibly not ok.

Caitlin17 Tue 14-Jan-14 08:18:33

coco not sure what you meant to say but anything which interrupts the performance/detracts from the experience is equally not ok as far as I'm concerned.

polythenespam Tue 14-Jan-14 08:20:53

My mum uses a fan in public due to hot flushes. She also suffers from anxiety and it takes her a lot of courage sometimes to go out into certain situations. If somebody told her she was annoying for using a fan, she probably wouldn't go out for about 6 months. I really hope that the woman you approached isn't as sensitive OP and has been able to brush off your rudeness.

How big was this fan if it was distracting you from 2 rows behind anyway?!

NotNewButNameChanged Tue 14-Jan-14 08:24:42


And I say that as someone who works in the arts. It's actually very hard to properly heat a lot of theatres because of their age and if they are listed. For example, I work in a listed theatre and we aren't even allowed to replace old cast iron radiators with modern ones, which means we cannot control each individual radiator, only the temperature of the boiler for the whole system. As a result, it can easily be very warm in one part and relatively cold in the other. This means occasionally some people will fan themselves - usually with a programme, occasionally they will bring a fan.

Flapping with a fan has been part and parcel of going to theatres since time began, pretty much. In Victorian times, you'd have seen the vast majority of the women using a fan. When people went to opera, they often used to be able to buy the script and follow along and you used to hear the sound of 700 people all turning the pages at the same time.

I find the unwrapping of sweets a far more annoying problem (which is why we don't sell wrapped sweets, but of course people bring their own) or the constant sound of crushing of plastic glasses underfoot now that more theatres are allowing people to take drinks into the auditorium with them because they can't cope without a drink for 60-90 minutes.

vixsatis Tue 14-Jan-14 08:26:53

Fully familiar with hot flushes; but any sort of fidgeting around in the theatre is completely unacceptable.

The fan sounds irritating; but sweet-eating is worse- all that rustling and chomping, as is sipping from a bottle of water throughout. Have a drink before you go in and one in the interval: no play is so long that one needs to drink during the performance. I also cannot stand couples who fidget with one another at the theatre.

It goes without saying that talking and phone checking are completely beyond the pale

carlajean Tue 14-Jan-14 08:27:16

So i'm not allowed to say (quite calmly, as I said) to your mum polythenespam that she spoilt my enjoyment of a tense drama by using a fan in case I upset her! I spent £50 on my ticket and it was so distracting having it flickering away at the periphery of my vision. Thanks to all who get my point. It wasn't the size of it, it was just the constant flicking that was distracting.

chemenger Tue 14-Jan-14 08:35:40

It would annoy me to have something white constantly moving in my visual field at the theatre. Maybe she now might at least buy a dark coloured fan, ie think about others around her and their (expensively bought) experience. If I was sitting next to her I would have asked her to stop and if she didn't I would have complained to theatre staff. From two rows behind I would have been annoyed but wouldn't have done anything.

I would think there are more effective ways of cooling down in a theatre than vaguely moving warm air around. Maybe take a cool pack (those frozen wine cooler things or lunch box cool packs), wrap in something and apply as needed. Maybe I will take one to the theatre in future in case I have to ask a fan wielding person to stop. Maybe it's a business opportunity....

whois Tue 14-Jan-14 08:35:52

I have been in a situation when someone a rows in front was fanning themselves. The movement was distracting, and the breeze she created was much worse. Really bugged me.

I don't think you were U for saying something OP.

Agreed that sweet eating, drink sipping, looking at phones are all annoying too and shouldn't be done in theatres.

So how conmea diabled child stimming in a theatre is OK, but a menopausal woman fanning is not?

If I was had paid £45+ (probably more like £80) to see a tense drama I would be fucked off if someone was stimming near me. Its not cool to be making noises or arm movements at something like a tense drama.

GlassCastle Tue 14-Jan-14 08:46:44

I had hot flushes and I did make decisions about where I went because of them. I had no desire to sit trapped in a theatre seat looking like somebody had emptied a bucket of water over me.

Some places and events are unavoidable (work) but i did avoid certain pubs and restaurants because they were heated to subtropical temperatures and changing rooms of shops were universally ruled out.

Shitehawke Tue 14-Jan-14 09:00:39

Why couldn't she use a discreet electric fan!? At least you hold that still.

choceyes Tue 14-Jan-14 09:18:10

YANBU at all. I think a tense drama is quite different to musical theatre too. A drama needs concentration and silence. At a musical with all that music going on, these things don't really cause much distruption, but in a drama it's not on. Whenever I've been to see a play/tense drama etc, nobody ate, drank, fanned themselves or whatever, and it would have been extremely odd to start doing so.

longjane Tue 14-Jan-14 09:46:33

What would happen if she had fainted ? Or got up and walked out and walked back in again .

What should have done if she was feeling hot /faint seeing as like you she had spent 60 quid on ticket .

Please tell us what she should done?

chemenger Tue 14-Jan-14 11:07:16

What should she have done - since she clearly anticipated that she might need to cool down she should have thought of a solution that was less likely to disturb other theatre goers. Booking an aisle seat so that she could leave and return with minimal disturbance might have been a better idea. Now that someone has pointed out to her that her fan was a problem she has the opportunity to find a better solution.

NotNewButNameChanged Tue 14-Jan-14 11:16:16

Chemenger - I know some women who take a fan IN CASE it may be warm. But you don't actually know until you get to the theatre. And when you book there may not be any aisle seats available. A venue with 400 seats could have as few as 20 aisle seats. Regardless, what about those people who don't anticipate they might need to cool down? They will just fan themselves with a programme (if they happen to bought one). There will be VERY few front of house staff who would ask a patron NOT to fan themselves and it is not something they could throw you out for in the same way they might ask you to leave if you had a phone that went off and you answered it, or didn't take out your screaming child, or got up and pissed against the wall (yes, it's happened).

Crowler Tue 14-Jan-14 11:20:25

I think it's a bit strange to bring a fan into a theatre. Do people really do this?

NotNewButNameChanged Tue 14-Jan-14 11:24:33

Crowler - yes, some do. Although I have to say it's more prevalent at opera and musicals than plays. And certainly something that regular theatregoers are more likely to do and, by the same token, regular theatregoers are more likely be used to seeing people fanning themselves and therefore not find it distracting.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now