It has been no secret that 2016 has been rife with drug-related deaths in the music festival circuit. Well in the very least it has been rife with media reporting on the drug related deaths of dance music event attendees. This has been a common theme in the media since 2013, when a disastrous series of events resulted in the cancellation of the third day of Electric Zoo in New York City. That event was the first which media outlets across the nation started their mainstream tirade against dance music events. Many cities have chosen to attempt to ban EDM events due to the belief that they carry a higher risk of drug overdoses and deaths among attendees. Even though any concert from country events to rock n roll concerts statistically have similar if not larger ratios of hospital transports for substance overdoses (including alcohol related incidents).
Why does the media chose to focus only on dance music as the problem when American drug policy and refusal to implement harm reduction techniques are of course the culprit? There is no clear answer but one can only deduce this is because dance music is currently the voice of one of the largest counter cultures in America. Are we not going through the exact same thing Rap and Hip Hop went through in the 90's with violence or what Rock faced in the 60's with the destruction of social norms. Hell even what Jazz faced in the 40's when African Americans started to become popular artists! Yes, these are all different causes of media outrage but at the end of the day do they all not share the same theme of this outrage being widely unfounded?
The LA Times wrote one of the more ignorant News articles in recent memory; blindly throwing around statistics about deaths at dance music festivals around the nation. I understand that this entirely an issue but at the same time, talking about these deaths with no reference point is absolute fear mongering. Kaskade wrote a brilliant response to this article which highlights so many important facts and helps bring reference points to the LA Time's irresponsible reporting. Kaskade mentions that, “According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, every day in America 27 (TWENTY-SEVEN!) people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.” The conclusion can be made…it is not an issue of dance music. Just as violence had to be addressed outside the idea of Hip Hop in the 90's to lower the murder rate, we need to look at irresponsible drug use (alcohol included) as an issue independent of dance music to help lower overdose rates.
There have been several other articles written about clubs being shut down for being “drug havens”. The closing of the landmark institution of Fabric in London is the one example still fresh in everyone's memory. Well then I am sure the closure of all of these “drug dens” will without a doubt stop drug usage. I wish we had something to compare this logic to in recent history…oh wait we do…remember the 18th amendment to the constitution? Yeah prohibition was shockingly similar logic: ban alcohol, ban bars and then our nation will just comply. Well that went to shit, just like every single one of bans imposed by cities. Kaskade points out this logic as well, “But this is a world-wide problem, something that is not even close to being unique to dance music. Part of the problem is people trying to simple-size it. Raves = drugs. So close them down. […] Not going to work, and we all know it. ”
We need to start educating our population about drugs and start taking a treatment rather than criminal approach to substance usage. Since man first crushed grapes, people have been getting intoxicated. It is not going to stop, but the dangers of substance use can be greatly diminished with harm reduction techniques. This includes education, testing kit distribution and community outreach programs which offer help to those who want it. It is no secret I am in recovery from drug addiction, I am entirely sober, but at one point in time I used all the drugs one could imagine. I cannot help but to think what might have happened if harm reduction and education was part of my teen years rather than shame, guilt and ignorance of what drugs involved. We have voices like Kaskade, willing to give our movement and ideology legitimacy from his respected spot atop the dance music community, now we just need the media to open up their ears and shut their mouths. Reporting on the deaths and banning EDM is not going to save lives, just as reporting on a fire and banning only candles is going to put out a blaze.