Despite all of HARD’s efforts over the years to avoid using the “R” word and distinguish themselves as their own breed of music festival, LA Times just called Rave on them in regards to the death of two women at their show over the weekend. I wasn’t even remotely shocked when I heard, my reaction completely devoid of empathy. This is highly unlike me and in an effort to get in touch with my feelings I’m writing this post.
My instinctual first response as a seasoned raver who’s already run through the drug gamut is, “These little kids are ruining everything.” That’s an easy feeling, it gets everyone off the hook except the victim. Holding on to that interpretation means I don’t have to think about what it would be like to accidentally ingest a pill that could kill me – those deadly UPS pills are still floating around out there. This is one of those things that could happen to any of us.
Looking up at that photo of the crowd gives me The Fear like a mofo, I can’t stand to be in a crowd of people that dense dead, sober much less drunk and on drugs. Find me in a tree or dancing on top of a folding chair alone, but you’ll never see me ass deep in a crowd like that – it’s like being in the zombie apocalypse. 10 years ago I went to massive festivals in Europe like Sonar, Primavera Sound and Optimus Alive and no one was pushing or getting too wasted. You could make your way through 20,000 people to the front of a stage just by saying please and thank you.
This proves to me that party crowds can be conscious, we don’t have to act like zombies. Maybe if the two women at HARD Summer could have gotten help quicker they would still be here. I’ve fainted in a festival crowd before when I was by myself at Coachella, no one around helped me. Just before I went down, I asked a girl next to me for water. She said, “Sorry, I’m sick” and legit did a fake cough. This makes me think maybe we’re not all taking care of each other on the dancefloor.
Also, as I sit here typing the word ‘dancefloor’, I know it’s a lie. Being in the the thick of a crowd at a festival feels much more like a death march than a dance party, of course people are dropping. On the other hand, as a consumer paying tons of money to see all your favorite music amidst this sea hell, getting lit AF feels like the most natural way to weather the harsh realities of GA life.
Rave culture in the US is starting to feel like teen pregnancy culture – no one is explaining or providing resources at the institutional level to prevent it so it just keeps happening. Promoters should be insulated from liability for providing information and resources to help prevent drug overdoses at their events, ignoring the problem isn’t working. I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the Times regarding the condition our condition as a culture is in right now.
The drug Molly is commonly seen as harmless, but doctors say it is dangerous and can cause body temperatures to soar to 108 degrees, causing organ failure, coma and death. “I am surprised. It is a little shocking when anyone dies … But people do drugs out here,” said Jackie Diaz, 19, of Irvine.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of tragedy happens. People get carried away,” added Oscar Mendez, 19. “People try to fit in and they don’t know their limits.”
Ernesto Lopez, 23, said the heat and crowded conditions, combined with drugs and alcohol, can take a physical toll. “Some people can’t handle it,” he said. “You have to look out for people. In heat, some people pass out. With all those bodies, the heat and, whatever else, it hurts.”