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At least three die during Steve Aoki performance in Madrid

November 01, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • DJ Steve Aoki performing in Hollywood. The Madrid Arena, where he was performing on Wednesday, was the scene of three deaths.
DJ Steve Aoki performing in Hollywood. The Madrid Arena, where he was performing… (Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles…)

This post has been updated. See below for details.

At least three women died Wednesday night at a Steve Aoki performance in Madrid when a tightly packed dance floor turned into a dangerous crowd crush. The three were attending a massive Halloween party called Thriller Music Park at the Madrid Arena, and, according to a report in El País (via Spin), police were called around 4 a.m. after being informed of unconscious revelers. 

Aoki was the headliner at the Madrid festival, which was approved to be a 10,800 capacity event.

Attendees later told El País that there were as many as 20,000 on hand, and one photo of the party published on Spin's website showed a vast, untended mass of people on the dance floor. A recently uploaded YouTube video identified as being shot at the event showed Aoki coaxing energy out of the jubilant crowd by showering them with Champagne.

The Los Angeles-based Aoki is one of the top dance DJs in the world, and he has built a reputation for  ferocious live shows -- he stage dives and head-bangs along to the tracks he's playing. Last week in Puerto Rico he was hospitalized after he injured his neck while jumping on a trampoline during one of his concerts.

Aoki has thus far been silent on the Madrid deaths. His most recent tweet was from Wednesday, in which he reached out to his followers with typically frenzied enthusiasm: "MADRID!!!!! HOLA! IM HERE IN YOUR CITY! READY TO PARTY WITH U! SOLD OUT TONIGHT! WOOHOOO!"

Witnesses told El País that passages and exits became overwhelmed during Aoki's set as people tried to move on and off the dance floor. 

"There was a human bottleneck at the only exit, because all the others were closed, sealed," one person told El País. "There were people crying, crushed; security personnel dragging away those that were trapped." 

Such concert tragedies have occurred before. Eleven Who fans were killed at a 1979 concert in Cincinnati, and, in 2000, nine died during a Pearl Jam concert at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. More recently, 21 died after a similar crush overwhelmed the crowd during Germany's huge dance event the Love Parade in 2010.

Updated, 12:10 p.m.  DJ Steve Aoki has issued the following statement regarding the tragedy in Madrid: “After my performance last night at Thriller Music Park at the Madrid Arena in Spain, I was devastated to hear that three people had died during a crowd rush at one of the exits.  The safety of my fans has always been my top priority and had I known that there was any distress putting people in jeopardy within the venue I would have ended my show immediately.  My show in Bilbao, Spain tonight will be cancelled out of respect for those who lost their lives and those who are injured. I would like to express my deepest condolences and heart felt prayers to the families and loved ones during this difficult time.”

Update, 1:05 p.m. The promoter of the Thriller Music Park event has also issued a statement expressing condolences for the loss of life, as well as details about the apparent cause.  “The triggering of events was apparently launched by an assistant flaming a flare in one of nine vomitory access, not on Centre Court,” the statement reads (albeit in awkward English). “This action caused panic and isolation in this part of the venue.” The promoter stressed that the Madrid Arena was not filled beyond recommended capacity, saying, in part, “The capacity certified by the foreign company access control was below the required capacity for this event.”

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Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit

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