An Essay by MichaelM, a SoCal raver I met on PlurLife.com
Feeling the bass run through your body as you jump up anddown, you see your favorite DJ yards away from you creating and blending musicthat gives a rush of euphoria to his/her listeners. You’re at an electronicdance music festival, where some are considered to be massive raves such asElectric Daisy Carnival and Together as One.
Thejoy of electronic dance music in California is currently in jeopardy due tocriticism and unrelated tragedies. A bill titled AB 74 in the state has beenintroduced to ban raves by Representative Fiona Ma of Daly City because “Ravesfoster an environment that threatens the health and safety of our youth.” Assome of you may know, the most recent Electric Daisy Carnival was givenenhanced media attention due to the death of a fifteen year old girl whoattended the music festival. Her cause of death was of an overdose from thedrug commonly known as Ecstasy. Also in a music festival titled “Pop 2010: TheDream” on May 29th, 2010, two young adults died from the same cause.
Itis agreeable that these massive festivals lead to numerous amounts ofhospitalizations and injuries, but it is not the festivals themselves that should be blamed and receive backlash for thedeaths of three human beings. These raves should not be banned, because thenegativity they have received in the past year has been falsely connected tothem. The real issue at hand is drug use and drug prevention at these events.
Thedeaths that have been falsely connected to raves were due to drug overdoses,not because of something the music festival did. In no way do these raves andmassive music festivals promote drug use. They don’t sell drugs nor have abooth at events promoting the use of them. These festivals have strict entrypat-downs and searches in which it does all it morally can to check attendeesif they brought illegal substances. Drug use is an individual choice, and themusic festivals should not suffer for the choices that individuals make intheir events once they have done their usual protocol of drug search. Promotershave released drug awareness posters around venues when raves take place. Atthe most recent Together as One, there were posters explaining the effects ofEcstasy and what to look out for to be aware of anyone who might suffer fromthe harms of the drug. Actions like these will have a much stronger effect onthe health of attendees rather than banning the raves and forcing themunderground, where supervision is drastically low compared to commercializedevents.
Atthe most recent Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, there was a big problemwith fence jumping, in which masses of attendees rushed the fences of the LosAngeles Coliseum stands to get into the closed off field. During this process,a number of attendees were trampled and injured from the over-crowding. Althoughthere were 226 medical emergencies during this massive festival, it must alsobe known that upwards of 185,000 attendees were at this event. If that were putinto a ratio, then .0012 percent of attendees were harmed in the festival intotal. The notoriously crime-riddled city of Compton harbors a population ofover 93,000 citizens, but has a violent crime rate of 1,564 per year. That is apercentage of 0.016; higher than that of the Electric Daisy Carnival. That isjust a violent crime rate. Why don’t representatives put more of their focus onreal issues? The fact of the matter is that there are always going to be someforms of medical attention needed at massive events, so the best solution wouldbe to raise the quantity of security and medical assistants at these raves,rather than banning them altogether.
Thebill that moves to ban raves also infringes on the bill of rights firstamendment of right to free speech, assembly, religion, and petition. Section 2of the bill states that “Any person who conducts a public event at night thatincludes prerecorded music and lasts more than three and one-half hours isguilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of ten thousand dollars ($10,000)or twice the actual or estimated gross receipts for the event, whichever isgreater.” Since when has conducting a public event at night with prerecordedmusic been a crime? Denying our right to assemble is unconstitutional and will banother musical events other than raves.
Everygeneration has its own issue when it comes to music. The 90’s had controversieswith rap music. Woodstock had its issue in the late 60’s. Metal in the 80’sbrought an issue of Satanism and parental labels on album covers. With everyintroduction or mainstreaming of a type of music, people get scared. Now, inthis new upcoming decade, the popularization and blending of electronic dancemusic and drugs poses an issue for our generation.
Theculture that raves have created is a culture that ravers and rave attendeeshold dearly. Tens of thousands of people gathering in a crowd and dancing toelectronic dance music like House, Trance, and Electro with hundreds ofdifferent lights blaring in every direction brings a feeling of unity to them;where some have gone so far to coin the acronym “P.L.U.R” which stands forpeace, love, unity, and respect. In what other musical culture has there beenan atmosphere where massive gatherings are held year-wide with attendees lovingthe music and each other? In no other place than a rave have I come across somany happy, peaceful, and friendly people in unison. It is only a small numberof individuals that are tarnishing the image of raves, and only they should beheld accountable for their faults. The media should not narrow their focus tonegative aspects of the events; they should record the full essence of the ravescene so that people can truly see what it is all about.
TamieAdaya, a popular observer of pop-culture, art, history, and politics attendedthe most recent Together as One rave in Los Angeles. In her article Raves nRoses: Celebrating the New Yearin Los Angeles Adayalauds her experience at the rave and the Pasadena Rose Parade. She wrote “Togetheras One is such an apt name for an event that brings so many people together insuch a celebratory way, not to mention bringing the DJs together!” On her takefor how she spent her New Year’s Eve and day, she writes “… the perfect way tobring in 2011!” This is the true essence and image that raves promote, notviolence and drug use.
Banning raves is notthe solution to fixing the problem at hand. Neither is the unconstitutionalbill AB 74. If we want our attendees to be more secure at these events, we mustincrease awareness and security in order to make them a safer place.