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Banning raves in California won't save lives

But empowering promoters to educate ravers just might

  • Ross Gardiner
  • 13 August 2015

Things started to go wrong for me at around midnight on Saturday at EDC Las Vegas. We were stuffed deep into the neonGARDEN for Disclosure. The temperature must have clocked in at around 125F on the floor. As I was deep in the groove with sweat pouring from my brow, I suddenly started to shiver with cold. Common sense and a panicked scan around at the drenched and panting bodies told me that this was not how I was supposed to feel.

I knew immediately that my night was over. I certainly wasn't a gurning mess, but my body was sending me very strong warning signs that it was overheating. I calmly let my friends know, we waded out through the crowd, and headed to the medical tent where I spent the rest of the evening drinking Powerade, chatting to the volunteer staff and reflecting on the situation I had placed myself in.

I don't believe that I was in grave danger that night. But had I not possessed an understanding of the ups and downs of drugs, and a knowledge of the available on-site facilities I might have left that festival as a statistic used to demonize the community that I love.

Insomniac, the promoters of Electric Daisy Carnival, did everything they possibly could to make sure that all those in attendance were safe. The security presence was enormous and approachable, the medical staff was responsive and non-judgmental, and free water was abundant. The festival's positive promo video 'We Are Dance Music', which was released a few days before the event, sought to marshal ravers behind a positive message of community – for example, if someone's struggling, let security know immediately. EDC Las Vegas recorded only one death out of over 420,000 total attendees in 2015. Though many would argue that that is still one too many.

This debate about drug use in dance music is back in the spotlight once more, this time in response to the deaths of 18-year-old Tracey Nguyen and 19-year-old Katie Dix at HARD Summer last weekend. While toxicology reports could take up to six weeks, both deaths have been attributed to complications following ecstasy use. The festival, which was held at the LA County-owned Pomona Fairplex, has come under intense scrutiny in the light of the tragedies. The LA Times ran an opinion piece from local ER doctors calling for "a moratorium on raves on county-owned property", while the deaths immediately prompted a motion fronted by LA County's First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to prohibit "these kinds of events". This harks back to the movement that very publicly drove EDC from its home at the LA Coliseum following the death of 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez in 2010.

 
 
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