Musicians and artists require perfection in every aspect of their performance, down to the floor on which they perform. That’s why you almost always see stages decked out with rugs. But why rugs?
Here are 5 reasons why musicians have rugs on stage:
- Rugs provide comfort.
- Rugs keep performers safe on stage.
- Rugs provide insulation and absorb sound.
- Rugs keep equipment in place
- Rugs on stage are for aesthetic purposes.
To the average Joe, stage rugs might seem important because of their aesthetic value. But a simple rug offers more support to your favorite musician than you think. To learn why musicians have rugs on stage, here’s an in-depth look at the benefits of having rugs on stage.
Rugs Provide Comfort
Being a musician or a performer can be physically demanding, given that most band members often dance and run around the stage during the 90 minutes or so to interact with the audience.
Having rugs on stage provides a sort of cushion for the performers. It gives their feet and legs a softer ground and offers them a clean, dry place to sit or stand. That’s why you often see musicians perform barefoot, as well.
Rugs also make the floor much cooler than normal, which can be helpful for outdoor stages.
The Emotional Comfort Clause
Many musicians and bands like to add similar rugs and carpeting to their stages because it gives them comfort through familiarity.
According to MentalHelp.net, surrounding yourself with familiar things keeps the negative effects of performing at bay. It gives them a sense of control of their environment, so they feel more empowered and confident when they step onto the stage.
Rugs Keep Performers Safe on Stage
The average stage floor is made from concrete or wood, which is then sanded and treated to be slick and smooth. And that spells disaster if you’re a performer who wants to use the whole stage. That’s why stages are typically fully covered with rugs.
Covering the stages with a rug provides more traction and helps prevent spills, slips, and trips.
Wires from the equipment, mikes, stage boxes, and such are taped underneath, preventing tangles and making it easy to rewind them after the concert is done.
Rugs are also super absorbent, which keeps people from slipping and falling if the stage gets wet or moist. Let’s not forget that while performing, the musicians and performers sweat a lot. Something cushy and absorbent underneath keeps the musicians safe from any puddle slips and prevents accidents.
Rugs Provide Insulation and Absorb Sound
Performing live can be very difficult if you don’t have the sound command you perform in a studio.
Considering the immense aural pressure that comes when you’re performing live—the screaming audience, the amplifiers, the instruments, feedback—it’s tough to stay tuned and hear the sound properly. That’s where rugs come in handy.
Rugs and carpets offer insulation and absorb sound. When performing in a venue with a carpeted stage, the reflections from the equipment get absorbed, creating better-sounding music.
With a reduced echo and dampened sound, singers and guitarists have a better time hearing the drums and the tech. In a way, carpets and rugs serve as cheaper options for dampening sound.
Of course, you could also invest in better in-ear systems to control the sound. But carpets and rugs are the best options in a pinch.
The fact that rugs offer a reduced noise level that allows the audience to listen to the best version of the song also works as a plus in the artists’ favor.
Check out my article on how to reduce echo in a room with hardwood floors.
Rugs Keep Equipment in Place
While some musical instruments are portable, other heavier equipment such as keyboards, drum kits, amplifiers, and more require protective places where you can’t push or pull them.
Again, stage floors can be slippery. And in a space where heavy vibrations may push things off their spots, you need something that creates enough traction, so nothing moves from its place. With the rugs absorbing heavy foot traffic, vibrations, and heavy equipment, everything stays protected, even the floor itself.
If something falls or is thrown to the ground, there’s less of a chance that the instrument will get damaged. It might fall and get scratched, but having a buffer in between creates a last-minute safety shield for any equipment that may fall face-first.
Rugs on Stage Are for Aesthetic Purposes
Using rugs on stage is as much for practical reasons as it is for aesthetic purposes.
Traditionally speaking, most artists use rugs on stage because it’s a habit passed down within the industry.
Jazz artists in the 1920s would perform live concerts while standing on oriental rugs. Sitar players from the East and the Middle East during the 17th century would perform while sitting on carpets. This tradition stems from the Middle Ages when fairground performers would use carpets and rugs as a “stage.”
During the late 1970s, musicians would host rug concerts, so the performers and the audience could sit back and relax.
So it’s not difficult to assume why many musicians were quick to adapt. As time passed, more musicians from different genres began using rugs to improve the audience’s music experience. As a result, rugs started becoming commonplace to the point that now, it’s strange not to have rugs or carpeting on stage.
Rugs also provide color and art to performance. Many bands use rugs as merch for their events. Some use the band’s logo on different rugs, using them on the stage floor to highlight their name. Others use different colors to promote a cause. For example, bands might use pink rugs for a concert for breast cancer awareness.
Why Do Performers Use Oriental Rugs on Stage?
Unlike machine-made rugs and carpets, oriental rugs stand out because of their handmade quality, design, and thickness, which can be useful for a band or musician.
Performers use oriental rugs onstage because they’re beautiful and sophisticated. Their unique design also promotes creativity. Being on stage and surrounded by creative prompts gives performers the push they need to think outside the box. That’s why they also use these rugs while practicing.
Performing on a familiar floor allows people to feel more comfortable. The familiar material underneath their feet gives them a smoother flow of movement because of its subconscious impact. What they practice behind the scenes stays in their memory more than what they’d practice on a smooth floor. It’s all about perfecting the routine any way they can.
Finally, performing on oriental rugs, particularly, prevents nerves and anxiety from taking over because of softer flooring. It’s a small step in a litany of moves that performers make, so they feel happier on stage. Any performer who feels right at home on stage do so because they have an element of “home” with them every step of the way.
Check out my article on the best flooring for home recording studios.
Can You Use Any Rugs on Stage?
While oriental and Persian rugs are the first choice for any musician or performer, these aren’t easy to buy.
Authentic vintage oriental and Persian rugs cost more because of their hand-woven designs and overall quality. If these are out of your price range, your best choices are non-slip rugs or non-slip drum mats specially designed to be used for onstage performances.
You can basically use any rugs on stage. You can also buy area rugs if you need something cheap. But if you want a rug for a specific area of the stage, for example, your drum sets, you can always buy smaller woolen second-hand rugs.
- Big Easy Magazine: Reasons Behind Using the Rugs On Stage by Musicians
- By The Barricade: Stage Rugs: What Are They And Why Bands Use Them
- Ask MetaFilter: Why do rock bands like Oriental rugs so much?
- Quora: Why do musicians put oriental rugs on stage to stand on?
- Ennui Magazine: 5 Reasons Why Musicians Use Rugs On Stage
- Indie Panda: Why Do Bands Have Rugs On Stage?
- Ultimate Guitar: why do guitarists have rugs onstage?
- MentalHelp.net: The Transitional Objects and Self Comfort
- The Mob Museum: Prohibition: An Interactive History: The Rise of Jazz and Jukeboxes: Duke Ellington (right at piano) with his band the Washingtonians, 1925.
- TIME: Instrumentalists: And Now the Sitar
- The New Yorker: Rug Concerts
- Allan Showalter: Questions Cohenites Ask: What’s With Those Persian Carpets On The Stages Of Leonard Cohen Concerts?