There has been a lot of things said about an event that took place on the 11th November 2012 at Westfield London Shopping Centre. So here’s an account of what it looked like from within the 500 as seen by a father. Kardashian sisters Khloé, Kim and Kourtney were in town for the launch of the Kardashian Kollection at Dorothy Perkins. My daughters a bit of a fan and with past experience of a Tom Daley book signing fresh in our minds we headed up early. Unlike the Tom Daley signings this was to be the only UK event and many people were taken by surprise with the numbers that turned out. The lady in front of us in the queue was with her daughter and friend. They’d travelled the 200 miles down from Manchester!

The Westfield web site gave some details for those wanting to come along, which include: The queue will open from 7.00am – no overnight camping is recommended. 500 wristbands will be distributed on a first come, first served basis and you must be the holder of a wristband to enter the signing queue in The Atrium.  Did you notice the key word recommended? Not the “allowed” that many posting nasty comments on Dorothy Perkins Facebook page thought they’d read.  In the FAQ further down the page it stresses the point with: Q. How many wristbands are available? 500 wristbands are available on a first come, first served basis.

Westfield had a duty of care. A lot of the fans there, like my daughter, were in their early teens. Rather than turn everyone away to fend for themselves they allowed them to stay in an ordrely, dry and secure queue in their underground car-park. A UK paper sensationalised it with “Thousands of teenagers slept outside overnight in the Westfield London car park” when in fact the numbers were smaller.  There had been some confusion over wrist bands. Knowing how Dorothy Perkins were to give out 500 wrist bands around 09:00 Westfield management controlled numbers by using their own coloured bands. There was no point allowing thousands to queue for hours in the car park only to disappoint many of them later. Once they’d got to the 500, which by coincidence was close to 05:00, they tried to disperse the remaining people. From inside the car park it wasn’t clear what was going on outside but there were reports coming in of hysterical fans going over the top and throwing punches. With things getting heated outside the car park shutters were lowered to keep the 500 safe from those wanting to break into the group. Fights over already attached wrist bands would have got nasty.

Over all I’d say Westfield security did an extremely good job.  They opened a second separate car park zone allowing people that would fill the second half of the The Atrium to come inside. The staff communicated well with people and more importantly listened to what was said. When I spotted a minor issue in the early morning that impacted the welfare of the girls it was passed up the ranks and something implemented immediately.

We were escorted in small groups upstairs and were allowed to use the rest rooms. I’d expected the balcony around the atrium to be reasonably full, and numbers grew quickly. What I’d not expected was Sir Philip Green being flanked by three senior police officers, one of which joined him onto stage to say he’d come to the event with the view of shutting it down, saying 6 people had already been taken to hospital. The back half of the atrium crowd kept surging forwards, crushing the people in front.   I could have done with ear plugs for when Khloé, Kim and Kourtney came on stage, the crowd went crazy

Unfortunately for the fans a wall of photographers was allowed to stand in front and get the images that would be in the official press. The fans could only tell what was going on from the video walls to either side.

Once under-way, the event organisers, Khloe and Kim took turns to stop the proceedings and tell everyone to take two or three steps back.  Thankfully the crowd got the message after a while and the rest of the event didn’t need interrupting.

Fashion wise for me Khloe stood out from the group with her knee-high boots and Kardashian lace trench coat. I’d have loved to be one of the official photographers but I was there for Sophie. I had planned to go with the dSLR but had a last minute request to keep it behind, so only had the G11 to shoot with as both of our iPhones had gone flat.

Sophie was over the moon to get the signed photos and find that I’d been given double the goody bag gifts by mistake. More goodies to share with her friends that hadn’t been able to get into the 500.

To sum up, it was clear that they took the event very seriously. The mass of radio mics in use, the numbers of security staff on duty, the type of barriers that had been installed for crowd control, the way things were organised, it all showed that they’d invested a lot of time and money to get it right. Congratulations Kardashians, Dorothy Perkins and Westfield, I think you did a fantastic job.

To the “fans” that got hysterical, violent, shouted at staff or posted nasty messages early morning when they realised they’d not got in, You let yourself down. Learn from the event and go to the next one, whoever it may be with, better prepared and with a more mature outlook. It’s a numbers game, there are no guarantees in life. Do what it takes to make the odds more in your favour but in a socially acceptable way.