When we opened the Tucson Ritz-Carlton, we moved all 500 chairs by ourselves. At the Tucson Convention Center, we moved all 750 chairs every trade show we were featured. At the Westin Kierland we moved every solid wood table outside in 107 degree weather so we could set the room. Earlier in our career at county fairs, we moved every 5 row high bleacher. Moving chairs is extremely physically demanding, so why would we do it?
It’s strange but with experience you learn how to look at a room. Weeks before the event, even before the room is ready and there is no audience, you can look at your performing space and tell if it’s going “to work” or not. Most times you can’t change the room but most of the time you can adapt the room with one powerful “weapon”. The secret is… the distance between the stage and the audience.
We’ve had to move chairs numerous times and you have to be careful because you don’t want your client to incorrectly assume you’re doing this for your own comfort. (Couldn’t be further from the truth!) We do this to maximize the audience’s experience. Let’s face it, you’re only as good as your audience likes you, so you might as well help them have the best experience possible. So if you ask your client to move hundreds of chairs, it can sound demanding, it can be difficult for the banquets to manage in a timely schedule, or it can even sound ridiculous to a non-performer. Many times, the only way to move those chairs is to move them yourself.
The distance of the chairs between the audience and entertainers (as is the shape of the rows) can be a real support to the success of your show. Learning exactly where best to position them takes years of experience.