Bringing Cameras to a Bob Dylan Show
A 19-year-old's trial at the Fox Theater.
By Jon Edwards
For three sold out nights in a row, Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways tour hit the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. I went to two of the performances with my dad and brother, both of whom intended to sculpt Dylan's portrait out of wax. Despite Dylan’s rules, as well as the venues policy about not allowing cameras or phones inside during the performances, I attempted to bring multiple cameras in the first night.
Immediately my DSLR camera was sent to coat check by security, but I managed to sneak a disposable film camera in. After a night of successfully taking photos, I was eager to find a way to bring my professional camera in and get the good shots. Having conjured up a plan to get it in, the second night came, and I was ready.
As I walked through the security, I put my camera bag on the table anticipating them to have me take it to coat check. However, the worker slid it to the other side of the security checkpoint, telling me “The right things happen to the right people.” In disbelief, I thanked them and continued into the venue.
Having already enjoyed the amazing performance put on by Dylan the first night, I was completely focused on getting the right shots. My seat was at the top balcony, quite far from the stage. I sat there frustrated that I wasn’t getting the quality I wanted in my photos, so with 20 minutes left in the show, I headed down a floor to get a better, closer angle.
Still eager to push my limits, I walked down to the bottom floor, where tickets were over three times the price of mine. I found a crack in the velvet hanging behind the viewers and there I took the winning photos.
As I was snapping away, I was approached by some workers confused as to why and how I had a camera in the event. One of the workers who claimed to be security walked me outside to the metal detectors to interrogate me. At the time, I had taken photos with a disposable film camera as well as my professional DSLR camera, but I had a couple other cameras in my bag as well.
I told them that I was let in by a worker, making sure to keep their identity hidden as that worker was my savior. Suddenly I was surrounded by workers who claimed to be not only security but management and owners of the venue, all of whom hounded me to delete my photos and hand over my disposable cameras. I refused it all, knowing that the only legal thing they could do to me was kick me out of the theater.
Things got out of hand when the show was over and audience members left. The Fox Theater employees held me there against my will, threatening that I would spend the night in jail and that they would drag me back inside if I did not comply to deleting the photos.
My brother and dad had not known what was happening until leaving the venue when they saw the workers scream in my face, cuss me out, and grab at me.
A woman who claimed to be the owner continued to physically and verbally harass me while asking for my ID, which I knew I would never have to give her. It was then that she decided to illegally reach in my bag and grab my wallet. She walked away with it and went through my credit cards and cash. My brother, dad, and I were trying to bring attention to the fact that she was actively committing a crime, but her workers stood around and watched it all happen.
I heard some wild things. The woman who took my wallet said that I needed to get strip searched. She also threatened to bring me to Bob Dylan himself to hear what he had to say about it! It was complete chaos.
The moment I knew that they wouldn’t let me go without having me delete the photos I hid the SD card with the Dylan photos in my pocket and traded it out for a blank one while they were distracted with my other cameras.
After thinking they had won, they let me leave, but not without robbing me of $150 worth of my equipment, including two cameras and three SD cards, all without my knowledge until after leaving the venue.
In the end I got the photos and got to see almost two full Bob Dylan performances. Although I am very upset about how bizarrely this was handled, I was happy to walk away with the one thing I came there for. It may not seem like a huge deal to have these photos, but they are some of the only photos, and the only decent ones you can find from this tour, and it didn’t come easy.