TomorrowWorld Teams Up with DanceSafe to Provide Drug Awareness & Education
Whether you are an experienced festival-goer, a novice on the “EDM” scene or a concerned parent, it is likely you are aware of the series of unfortunate events occurring within the dance music community. First, there was a highly publicized overdose at a Zedd concert at the House of Blues in Boston. Days later, Electric Zoo was cancelled due to two deaths from what was proposed to be molly (MDMA). After this widely circulated occurrence, reported even by the New York Times, it seemed as though stories about teens and young adults over dosing on this “new” drug called “molly” came out of the woodwork left and right, leaving little room for anything but criticism of the drug and the electronic festival experience. The upcoming TomorrowWorld festival in Atlanta has taken a different approach.
Rather than simply sweeping the situation under the rug, TomorrowWorld has taken steps to address the problem and provide the safest possible experience for its patrons. According to a recent Rolling Stone article, “The festival has partnered with DanceSafe, a non-profit drug education group that will have about 20 volunteers at TomorrowWorld this weekend … distributing fliers to the crowd about how to avoid overdoses and staffing an air-conditioned ‘cool-down’ lounge where they will offer information on drugs and alcohol to festival-goers who duck inside.” It goes on to explain that while the group cannot legally provide on-site drug testing, they do sell drug testing kits on their website to ensure maximum safety for those who choose to indulge.
This stands in stark contrast to Electric Zoo‘s decision to cancel the final day of the festival. While I have nothing but remorse for the families affected by tragic deaths of loved ones, and do not necessarily blame the Electric Zoo organizers or the city for doing what they had to do, it was far from a long term solution to an ongoing problem.
Essentially, what was said by simply canceling a festival is that they refuse to acknowledge the existence of recreational drug use at music events, when in reality, this is an extremely backwards and naive view akin to that of celibacy vs. safe sex. The bottom line is that drug use exists and will continue to exist, but will keep taking lives if demonized and not addressed properly. The truth of the matter is that if you were to compare pure MDMA to most other vices (alcohol, cigarettes, and many prescription pills), the dangers do not even come close. The major problem with molly arises when the substance purchased is cut or mixed with more dangerous substances, when users do not drink enough water, or take (way) too much — all things that could be avoided with simple, basic education and awareness. This is why I commend TomorrowWorld for being the first mainstream festival to acknowledge the use of drugs and take a more progressive approach.
TomorrowWorld has looked at the situation from a realistic standpoint and, in essence, said, “Hey, there are going to be drugs at our festival. Let’s do something to make sure people stay safe.” To me, this seems like the most basic concept that every festival should have adopted years ago, but of course there will always be legal issues to work around and an image to uphold. The fact of the matter is that the system in place in our country makes it so that festivals cannot technically acknowledge drug use, which makes it a sort of Catch-22 (how do you fix a problem if you cannot acknowledge its existence?). Perhaps TomorrowWorld’s embrace of DanceSafe will set a new precedent for these sort of events, rather than simply denying a problem because the media dictates it so.
In an earlier interview with Rolling Stone, Diplo spoke out on the issue explaining, “We’re such a conservative culture that we’d rather not talk about the things kids want to do, even though they’re going to do them anyway. We’d rather ignore it to solve the problem … It’s going to happen; you can’t control it. Persecuting a festival is not going to help it because kids are going to do them regardless.”
Having DanceSafe at a festival to offer drug education and awareness is not an all-encompassing solution, but it is certainly a huge start. Teach the Children Well, drink water and DanceSafe, y’all.
UPDATE: DanceSafe absolutely killed it at TomorrowWorld, hopefully setting a new precedent for festivals to come! If you support the organizers of TomorrowWorld for their approach to the situation, go ahead and thank them by signing this petition via the Drug Policy Alliance.