Scene of the collapse from Nathashi Wijesundera’s FB
Cantaloupe is an events management team that grew out of the old Colombo Nightlife crew, AFAIK. I’ve met a few of the directors and they’re nice enough, though those sort of events and nightclubs (Amuseum) are not my scene at all. They are, however, a scene which a lot of people seem to enjoy. Underneath that lifestyle, however, there’s always an undercurrent of violence and danger. This New Year’s Eve nobody shot off guns (which happens in Colombo), but an entire stage did collapse, injuring hundreds. There are limited ways to respond to such disasters, but not being prepared, not getting the injured to hospital as a priority and continuing the party have not represented Cantaloupe or the Hilton well.
Right now they’re getting hammered with comments on their Facebook feed, a lot of which they seem to be hiding. Their response is completely apologetic, promising compensation to anyone affected, but it may be a bit late. What mattered was their response in the immediate aftermath which, according to reports on FB and people I’ve talked to, seems to have been not really fitting to the urgency of the situation. By most accounts, the injured had to help themselves out and to hospital – with broken ankles, cuts, burns, etc.
The party was huge and a friend outside the VIP area said they only heard about the collapse via someone coming over the PA and saying that something had happened and directing people to get back to partying soon. Which is probably not the right response. With tickets going for Rs. 13,000 each
the organizers were reportedly clearing over 10 million each*, so they can probably afford to pay peoples hospital bills and offer refunds. The reputation damage from both the faulty stage and the weak response, however, won’t be bought out of so fast.
*I published a number based on complete hearsay which was nonsense and irresponsible. Sorry and please consider it retracted.