Spread awareness = #EveryDeathMatters
On November 12th, 2015 a young woman walked off the deck of a cruise ship during a festival hosted by Diplo's label: Mad Decent. An astonishing lack of media coverage surfaced from the reporters who were actually on board, to the extent that rumors of a media embargo began to spread. The most accepted explanation for her death was drug use leading to inadvertent suicide. In a few months, the story wasn't catchy anymore, and publications shifted back to their regularly scheduled programing about twitter debates and award nominations.
The EDM scene has a problem. It's one that we don't like to admit, because any attempt to quantify the rave scene as different from other music scenes is scary to people who have spent decades trying to legitimize electronic music as an art form, but if we don't admit our problems, we will never be able to work toward solutions. Ultimately, we have to confront the fact that a huge portion of people at festivals are not there for the music; they're there for the unregulated and easily available drugs. I'm not speaking as an outsider here; the rave scene is one that I spent 4 full years fully immersed in, and I've spent 7 years of my own life trying to explain to people that electronic music IS real music.
I attended my first festival when I was 15, and was high for almost every one I attended throughout my raving years. Getting pills at these events is almost comically easy, and I never once heard of anybody I knew getting caught at a show with drugs. At the level of security, festivals don't care if their patrons are using illegal substances, because it's a big part of the draw. At a government level, the war on drugs has been proven to be almost totally ineffective at preventing addiction, use, and deaths like these. The result is an abundance of varied, unmonitored, and dangerous drugs that are sold openly in the rave scene, in a way that I have not seen in any other music culture.
My own drug addiction was developed through my involvement. I took ecstasy at event after event, with no knowledge of the content of the pills, and I wasn't the youngest person I knew doing so. I had friends as young as 13 who were being fed unknown substances in the company of thousands, with virtually no fear of consequence for the people responsible. Dealing drugs at raves is easy. It is profitable, has very rare repercussions for the dealers, but it can be deadly to the users. The most notable publications that claim to cover EDM almost never draw attention to this problem. It's as if we've accepted that people will die, because the idea of trying to solve the problem is too scary, and parties are too fun.
Don't misunderstand me; I don't mean to condemn EDM entirely–far from it. I've spent almost my whole life raised by this scene, and it has defined me. I simply mean to call attention to the potential that the rave scene has to be completely hollow, and turn a blind eye to our very real drug problem. Musicians in the scene do not address these issues. Publications are even less likely to do so. Festivals are making no public effort to tighten security or prevent these deaths. I hate the idea that this weekend, a pre-teen may take several pills with no clue as to exactly what's in them: pills that walked right by the alleged security checkpoints and were openly sold by a man who had nothing to fear. Something needs to change.
Every death matters.
released February 12, 2016
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