This past Sunday, the LA Times ran an article which was essentially an inflammatory pummeling of the EDM scene. It painted a picture of “Ecstasy-fueled underground” raves, bumped up into the mainstream, leaving a trail of dead, drug-addled kids being picked up by the “…coroner’s wagon rolling down desert roads.”
Please. I’m all for looking hard at things that need to change, but first the fiction has to be knocked out of the discussion. Let me set a few things straight.
First off, this article is irrelevant and outdated. Perhaps if these journalists had written this twenty years ago, when the truth was a little more ragged, they could have made an argument that wasn’t so laughable. Back when warehouses were being broken into, fire codes were ignored, dodgy generators were powering a massive sound system and restrooms were non-existant. This was a time that safety probably wasn’t exactly job one. Things were smaller then, though. There weren’t tens of thousands of people looking to gather in one place, not like now. This scene has grown, and in response to the people it serves, it has grown up.
Today, massive events are being held on terms that have been scrutinized by engineers, civil servants, fire chiefs, policemen, and all manner of bureaucratic safety hoops. As EDM’s numbers have become larger, we’ve become more accountable. No longer hiding in an abandoned warehouse, we’re paying taxes, paying dues, and stimulating the hell out of each cities’ economy that hosts an event. Before the doors ever open, there is a string of green lights that have to be run through by people whose business it is to keep these events safe. The same codes put into place for every other genre of music applies to EDM. To say otherwise is untruthful and adheres to dangerous stereotyping.
I wouldn’t dare say we ignore the tragic accidents that happen. I wouldn’t dare say they don’t happen. But it takes a rudimentary understanding of the Basic Laws of Probability to guess that the more people that show up to these festivals, the larger the risk is that something goes awry. This isn’t unique to this music. This is a universal principle. Can we hope to avoid it? Absolutely. Can we take every precaution and security measure to hedge the odds? Definitely. But can the promoter be held responsible for the actions of the individuals at his events? No he can not.
What it comes down to is this: The responsibility to address substance abuse and addiction cannot come down to people who are event promoters. Not only is it unrealistic to expect them to tackle such a huge problem, it’s an enormous insult to those who have made it their life’s work to do so. Clearly, if the US Government hasn’t come up with the magic bullet to quell the problem of drugs in this country, it is not reasonable to expect an event promoter to pull this kind of trick out of his hat either.
I am dug in so deep that articles like this one, smacking of uninformed bigotry fire me up in a pretty passionate way. To assign responsibility of regulating drug use to concert promoters is ludicrous, in the extreme. To paint a picture (bordering on hysteria) of a community of people as capricious and reckless drug users is irresponsible.
This is a conversation that has been going on for decades. I don’t expect it to end here. But know this: as far as a music culture goes, EDM is the one who will accept the kids on the outliers, the ones who get bullied, the ones who feel like they may not quite fit in. This community is exceptional in its ability to bond all types together, and I am not exaggerating when I say it saves lives. Our audience is intelligent and kind, discriminating only in regards to which sound they like best. Our audience is unprecedented in their drive to proactively support each other.
There’s your story, LA Times. Do the world a favor and dig into that for a change, punks.
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