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This open letter has been circulating around the internet this past weekend as fans in EDM culture begin to cope with the tragic passing of two festival goers due to drug overdoses at this year's Electric Zoo held in New York City.
While this does not necessarily express the views of Magnetic Magazine, it provides perspective from the standpoint of a fan of dance music, and addresses important issues that need to be discussed-
A Letter To My Fellow EDM Fans-
As the media, politicians, and everyone else try to find who best to blame for the awful incidents that occurred yesterday, Saturday Aug. 31, 2013, at Electric Zoo on Randall’s Island, we all know the answer: It wasn’t the city of New York for hosting the festival, it wasn’t Made Event for organizing the event, and it wasn’t the lack of available water (which was everywhere), it was us.
We, the collective group of dancers and music lovers, are responsible. By buying a ticket and walking through those gates we silently acknowledge that we are responsible for ourselves, our friends, and each other. When tragic incidents occur at festivals, it’s a flashing sign that we let each other down.
I’d like to say with the most sincere tone possible that my thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of the two people who passed away and the four still in critical condition.
But then I have to ask myself, are we doing the memory of our fallen [fans] justice by using their deaths as signs that these festivals are out of control? If you were to attend a festival and overdosed, would you want the rest of your fellow attendees “punished”? Would you want your death to be the reason a festival is cancelled or a whole culture massively affected? The loss of any raver is horrible (and we, as a culture, all feel it), but when that death is then used to further the political rhetoric we’re all fighting against, it becomes down-right offensive to their memory.
Perhaps the media and everyone else is right; we’re unable to govern ourselves. And if that is the case, then we deserve to be treated as drug-addled hooligans and searched and scanned upon entry. But I’m unable to accept that. Not because I have an issue with extreme searches, but because I still have faith in my fellow fans. Perhaps it’s blind faith, but we look out for each other and we help each other when we see someone in need. That’s just what we do.
As a photographer who has frequented many of these events over the past year, I’ve met some of the most interesting people sitting off to the sides by themselves. I’d approach them to ensure that they were alright, and 99% they were fine. Maybe they were “rolling” a little too hard, and if that was the case I’d give them water, some gum, and sit with them for a while to ensure they were okay. Of the hundreds of people I’ve gone up to, only two truly required medical assistance (which I alerted the proper staff to).
I got into the music when I was a junior in high school, but I didn’t join the culture until I was a junior in college. EDM, Electronic Dance Music, whatever you want to call it; is not just a genre of music, it’s a collective of like-minded people that for 12 hours of a day want to forget the daily stress our lives place on us and enjoy making new friends, dancing, and watching cirque-du-soleil-esque productions. It’s a mindset of acceptance of anyone and everything - a world without judgement that you can’t under- stand until you’ve experienced it yourself.
Our lives are ours to make, and all we have when we leave this world are our decisions and the resulting memories. If you’re going to take drugs (whatever they are), please, do so wisely. Don’t buy them from a shady guy walking around mumbling “rolls, molly, x.” Don’t take a massive amount at once, like all good things in life, enjoy in moderation.
Our culture is ours to make, and just as easily to break. It’s on us whether we can continue dancing and making friends and enjoying this one life we have. So, from one raver to another, please be careful, make new friends, smile at everyone and always reach out to those around you.
And lastly, to the friends and families of any one who has passed away due to overdose (or anything preventable) at a music festival, I’d like to say I’m sorry. While I may not have seen them or had been able to help, I take responsibility that I failed them.
(For those of you who read this and scoffed at how “ludicrous this philosophy is” or how “hippie liberal” it may seem, the fact is: you’ll always be welcome. You may judge this culture as you will, but you’ll forever be accepted by it.)