Cotillion Concert Halted

A Latin concert at the The Cotillion in Wichita, Kan., was halted March 10th after a melee broke out between concertgoers and nearly 100 law enforcement officers.

Fans were forced to file out one by one midway through the concert – which was to feature Mexican band Patrulla 81 – after a city fire inspector demanded a head count. Fire Marshal Ed Bricknell said he received a complaint that the venue might have surpassed its 2,000 capacity.

“In responding to that complaint, we went down to the Cotillion and did a rough count and saw that it was overcrowded,” Bricknell told Pollstar. “We quit counting at 2,060, and there were about 200 or 300 people left inside the building.”

Cotillion owner Richard Leslie said he pleaded with the marshal to do the count after the concert was finished, but Bricknell insisted on doing it right then and there by himself. The main act hadn’t even stepped on stage.

“We’ve had two count-outs in our history of 45 years,” Leslie told Pollstar, adding that on the most recent incident, the fire department waited until egress to do their count.

Meanwhile, Leslie said the venue did its own count of the mostly Spanish-speaking March 10th crowd and came up with only 1,952 fans in attendance.

“I think it’s pretty underhanded for them to now be saying they quit counting at [2,061] and that there were still more (people) in the building,” Leslie told Pollstar. If that was the case, he could’ve quit at 2,001.”

Leslie said 2,000 tickets were printed for the show, which was promoted by Tulsa, Okla.-based Azteca Promotions. During the head count, the owner walked to the box office window and staffers told him there were 70 ducats still unsold. Tickets ranged from $35 to $40.

Leslie said fans waiting in the venue’s parking lot were getting restless after being promised the show would continue after the count was completed.

“We were told that all [Bricknell] wanted to do was count them out and that we would let 2,000 back in,” Leslie said. “So that’s what we had been telling the crowd.”

The concert never resumed and, at that point, fans apparently started throwing rocks and bottles, reportedly injuring three officers.

“There was an ‘officer down’ distress call issued, then about every law enforcement officer in the county responded. At that point, they called off the concert,” Leslie said. “There was no way it could’ve been continued at that point. It was over.”

The minor riot resulted in seven arrests, according to The Wichita Eagle.

“We had some T-shirt security and off-duty police, but not near the amount of people to provide security in the parking lot,” the owner added.

Bricknell said that in all the club inspections he’s done, he’s never seen anything quite like it.

“There’s been angry people but not to this extent,” Bricknell said. “We’ve never had a riot because of that.”

The fire marshal blames the incident on the venue’s management, and said, “If they come to the 2,000 number then they need to stop letting people inside because they’re violating fire code.”

Meanwhile, Leslie isn’t sure whether the concert will be rescheduled or if concertgoers will get a refund. His understanding is that Azteca Promotions is planning a free concert with Patrulla 81 at the city’s downtown Civic Center.

“I don’t know if it’s been confirmed or not,” he said. “[Azteca] said that if they do it, they’ll let the first 5,000 people in and the band will perform a free show.”

A call placed to Azteca was not returned at press time.

– Mitchell Peters