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The Pass Out Dance

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

Something I have run into more than a couple times at Speakeasy Tattoo in Los Angeles is when someone inevitably passes out while getting a tattoo. It seems to be pretty common place and nothing to be embarrassed about. I have seen the most bad ass of dudes go down in an instant and not even realize what happened till after the fact. It happens more than you would think, but there are a couple things that you can do to prepare yourself for getting a tattoo and keeping it together throughout the entire process.

First and foremost, EAT EAT EAT! When getting ready for your tattoo, make sure to eat a large meal before you head in to get poked for hours on end. Keeping a balanced blood sugar level is key. You will want to eat a big meal before your appointment and bring snacks to nibble on throughout the tattoo. Sugary things are great to keep you alert and you will want to stay very hydrated and drink lots of water. Also, remember to breath. I often see people stare down at the tattoo and they don’t even realize that they are holding their breath. Before you know it they are tipping over in the chair.  When watching the tattoo process, a person’s mind can begin to play tricks on them very fast. You are seeing the tattoo and processing the pain and the subconscious will then start to send messages to your brain that it is time to check out.  The most important advice I can give is, talk to your artist. If you start feeling funny, let us know. At that point we can take a break, get you some water or oj, and make you comfortable and ready to proceed with the art.

Now for the tattoo artist… There are a few things that you should know when dealing with people who faint. Number one thing is not to panic, someone will always go down no matter how many precautions you try to take. Pay close attention while preforming the tattoo. Skin can easily give away the first signs of when a person is getting woozy. The color of the skin becomes pale and chalky and usually sweat starts to form just before a person passes out. There is not much time once these signs start to take place, it will be best to get eye contact and lay the client flat with the goal of getting their head below their heart to get the blood back to the brain.  If the person does completely pass out, gravity will do this for you. You will be best to gently guide the person to a horizontal position and even slightly elevate the feet if possible. As soon as the blood rushes back to the brain the person will come too but may be frightened and often a little embarrassed. Keep saying their name until they become fully awake while trying to reassure them that they are ok. It will be best to keep the person in a reclined position for at least fifteen minutes because they will be very unsteady and somewhat shaky. At this point they may be nauseous and parched, just keep talking to them and try to make them as comfortable as possible.

The pass out dance kinda comes with the territory in any and every tattoo parlor.  Just know that this is a very normal occurrence going into it, and you will be better off when dealing with this situation when it inevitably happens. Once you have been around a studio for any amount of time you will see people fainting time and again, just be ready and stay calm.

“The floor scooped me up where I stood, and I blinked as it hit me.” -M. Beth Bloom-

Happy healing,


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