A rope line is a type of barrier intended to protect prominent celebrities or politicians from the general public. It is also used to organize crowds, especially in crowded clubs and other public places. When a rope line is used in a celebrity context, it is often covered in velvet and it may be decorated with ornaments like tassels to make it more elegant. The side on which one stands can be an indicator of social status or clout.
To assemble a rope line, strings of heavy cabled rope are strung between upright stantions, or poles that are stabilized with broad, heavy bases. Depending on its formality, the rope may be made from velvet, satin, or imitators of these luxury materials, although lines from nylon and less formal materials can also be seen. Typically, it is configurable with clips that can be used to open and close gaps between stantions.
Obviously, a rope line is not a real barrier; it is intended to serve as a deterrent, keeping people out of a certain area. As a result, it is usually attended by a security detail. Members of the security team keep people from pushing against the rope, and they are on the watch for people who try to cross or duck under the line to reach the restricted area. For security teams, it can be very stressful, since an open area presents a lot of risks.
For politicians, “walking the rope line” after an event is a useful publicity tactic. People who are unable to get into the event may wait at the line in the hope of meeting a politician, shaking his or her hand, and exchanging a few brief words. For high profile politicians like national leaders, access is tightly controlled to ensure the safety of the politician, and people may not be permitted to directly touch the politician.
At celebrity events like concerts, plays, and movie premiers, the rope line often lines a “red carpet,” a formal promenade to the entrance of the event. Celebrities on the carpet may be photographed and videotaped by news agencies, and they often perform short interviews as well. Prominent newscasters may be allowed to walk the red carpet with celebrities for the purpose of getting close-ups and sound bites.