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When attending events, the most important and actually the only rule is: show consideration for other visitors and respect for the performers. Please find below some helpful guidelines on social etiquette:
Code of Behaviour
Remember to turn off your mobile phone and other signal-emitting devices before the show. As illuminated screens can be disturbing to other theatregoers in a darkened hall, visitors are requested to refrain from texting or browsing the web during events. It is best to leave the phone safely in one’s pocket or purse and focus on what is happening on the stage or the screen. If suffering from a cold, it is advisable to stay home and offer the ticket to someone else. Sneezing or coughing can be disturbing to other visitors, as well as performers. When accessing your seat, it is courteous to face the people who have risen from their seat to accommodate you. Let us show our appreciation for their courtesy by thanking them. Etiquette suggests that you use the right armrest and leaving the left one for your neighbour.
Chatting or commenting should be avoided during events. It is best to keep discussions for the intermission or the post-event socializing. At concerts, refrain from tapping rhythmically on your armrest, or humming along with the music. This also applies to classical music concerts, whilst you can let yourself go at rock and pop concerts, where performers often encourage audiences to sing and clap along. It is advisable to inspect the programme note before the event, and show courtesy to other visitors by not rustling the programmes during the show.
It is inadvisable to bring small children to classical music concerts, or late-night and thematically challenging performances. It is highly probable they will get bored, become fidgety, tired and sleepy.
Clapping etiquette at classical music concerts requires that you wait for the others around you to start clapping if you are not familiar with the evening’s programme. It is not customary to clap between movements because a symphony (or concerto or suite) is conceived as a whole.
If it is acceptable to applaud an aria in an opera, even if the music is continuing. It is considered well-mannered to applaud after each artist has completed their extended improvised solo when attending a jazz performance. The rule for rock music and related genres is that there is no rule. The sounds made by the audience are far more tolerated here.
When attending a theatre performance, it is customary to applaud at the end of the show, at curtain call. However, it is very flattering for the actors to receive applause during the show.
If attending a ballet or dance performance, applause is offered after well-performed solos and pas de duex. When the dancers line up for traditional bows at the close of the performance, it is time to join in the applause wholeheartedly. Usually, audiences applaud after the performance is finished and when the conductor makes his entrance. Also, an invitation to offer applause is a conductor turning and facing the audience.
Out of respect for the performers, let us be moderate in showing both our enthusiasm and dissatisfaction.
Let us create a sense of occasion by dressing up. We show respect for the performers and other members of the audience by our attire. In the past, a theatre occasion was an opportunity for men to air that dinner jacket, black tie or starched collared shirt. Ladies wore elegant long evening dresses. While dress standards may have relaxed somewhat over the decades, we should still see a visit to the theatre as an occasion with an implicit dress code. However, casual outfits are common sights and perfectly acceptable these days.
Headwear, especially hats that restrict the view of people behind us, should be left in the cloakroom. To enjoy the show in greater comfort, it is recommended that outer garments be left in the cloakroom as well.
All galleries and museums have set rules so visitors can have the best experience possible. Visitors are not permitted to touch the exhibits to prevent damaging them or even harming themselves (e.g. various working models). Even if artefacts do not have a case, they are still part of the exhibition and should not be tampered with. However, some exhibitions (e.g. contemporary art) specifically invite visitors to touch the art.
Visitors should stroll quietly and slowly from one exhibit to the other. From discreetly marked lines on the floor to various barriers, there are all types of things to watch out for in galleries. Please avoid shoving others and stay a few steps back so that people behind you can also see the piece. Refrain from blocking the art and thus interrupting someone’s gaze.
When attending a guided tour, the etiquette requires we listen to the guide politely and ask questions only when we are invited to do so or after the tour has concluded.