Pop-guns drawn as Promenaders fall out

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The Independent Online
LIZ SEARL

It promises to be a memorable Last Night of the Proms. The battle lines are drawn - but will the Promenaders keep quiet tonight when panic sets in?

The request for silence from Sir John Drummond, the retiring director of the Proms, during a specially commissioned piece by Harrison Birtwistle has set Promenaders against Lastnighters.

Several dozen regulars, who have been queuing since Wednesday, have promised that they will help the stewards control rowdier Promenaders who turn up with klaxon, pop gun and balloons . They have come to an agreement with stewards to help with the confiscation of banned 'prom accessories'.

The informal promenade battle plan against those who the regualrs believe 'play to the television cameras" will include the discreet surveillance of concert-goers in the standing area,.

The decision follows the Promenaders' welcome of this year's clampdown on auditorium noise, ordered by Sir John while Birtwistle's Panic is played. In the concert programme, he asks that the audience should "leave all those balloons, klaxons and pop-guns at home".

Promenader Emma Dalton, 23, said they had all agreed the time had come to take action against the 'not-so-serious' Last Night of the Proms attenders. "Last year it got out of control - there were balloons being handed out by a sponsor, and the whole thing just got ridiculously out of hand. ," she said.

Helen Sibthorp, 40, explained that the group felt a duty to help to prevent a recurrence of last year's disturbances which had distracted from the quality of the music: "Because we are always at the front, the balloons invariably float down towards us, so we asked what we should do. It is still a celebration for us. It is almost like the end of term at school. But for us, part of the celebration is the music, and when all's said and done we are still at a concert," she said.

But this will not rule out silent movements like waving or bobbing, she said. "If we do anything at all during the music at the Proms then it is quiet. We will still be bobbing up and down and we will have a multinational flag."

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