Amidst all the outcry over ineffective security, a postponed refund, and countless other maladies plaguing the return and possible demise of Electric Zoo, dance music legend Tommie Sunshine took to Twitter to call out the ‘sting experiment’ being carried out at Electric Zoo. A full write up on Tommie’s thoughts can be found at Dance Music Northwest, and I encourage everyone to read it.
Interestingly enough, I was approached by several individuals on premises who asked for assistance in finding ‘mdma’, ‘molly’, or ‘e’ on festival grounds. In each case, the person asking was extremely direct and targeted me exclusively because of the beaded mask, kandi, and fluffies I was wearing. In each circumstance, the person or persons asking cited my appearance as the reason they chose to ask me, and once I admitted I did not have any drugs they proceeded to target another patron dressed in a similar fashion.
In each situation I decided to go a step above simply saying “no I don’t have any” or “no i don’t do that” and tried to disarm their incorrect assumption that my kandi, my mask, and my fluffies signified that I was dealing drugs. This was my response to every undercover that came my way:
“The way I am dressed does not signify that I am a drug user or dealer, and I apologize that stereotypes perpetuated by Mad Decent and HARD Summer have led you to the conclusion that kandi-wearers are drug users. I do not have any drugs of any kind for sale today, and I would encourage you to not approach other kandi-kids in regards to drugs. In my experience, it is the normally-dressed patrons that sell to others inside, not those in festive masks and outfits. It has also been my experience that the kandi-clad ravers are the first to offer water, assistance, and seek medical help for those in need in festival, club, and underground situations. I feel extremely disappointed that you would accuse me of being a criminal based exclusively on my creative expressions, and I sincerely hope you come to understand that all of us here aren’t drug addicts and deviants. We’re all patrons here to enjoy the show in our own way, and I specifically have chosen to enjoy it in an outfit that expresses my creativity; my outfit today is not an advertisement for drug solicitation, and I would highly dissuade you from purchasing anything illegal on the festival grounds. Thank you.”
How do you handle being asked for drugs at festivals? Share your responses in the comments!
In the days after the cancellation of Electric Zoo 2013 discussions centralized around the tragedies of the two deceased patrons where media outlets flocked like moths to the funeral pyre of EDM’s public reputation, shedding a dark light on the industry and vastly overlooking some positive outcomes of festivals like Electric Zoo.
I’m here to report on one such positive outcome largely overlooked by the mainstream media.
Amid a sea of more than 110,000 people, two individuals shared a unique moment they will remember for the rest of their lives. Known on Twitter as ‘DJ Boyfriend’ and ‘DJ Girlfriend’, Chris and Ashley have been lovers of music ever since they met at the State College of New York’s Albany campus. Ever since their first date at Webster Hall, the pair felt a strong connection to dance music, and felt a strong connection to their fellow patrons who they affectionately refer to as their ‘family’.
I’ve been pretty vocal lately: about the impact Electric Zoo’s cancellation and the effect that mass ‘molly-scare’ is having on our scene and on our community. But I thought today it might be pertinent to touch on something I rarely bring up in editorials: perception.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to have met several of my favorite DJ’s and producers face-to-face, often making incredible connections and in some rare cases even staying close friends. Without naming any names, some have even come up to me and instantly recognized me at show (yes, ME, a tiny little twittersona in a mask).
While musicality is most of what draws me to a performer, and stage presence often affects how I enjoy the bulk of a performance, interacting directly with a musician of any kind often has a strong lasting effect on how I enjoy their music.
For example, I was very much still in the discovery period when I first met ‘crunkstep’ DJ Crizzly on my birthday. Having only taken a quick glance at his Soundcloud and curious to hear what it would translate to live, meeting him and his hype man Cool simply added a new dimension to their understanding of their music. Chris himself, though boasting a big sound, is refreshingly down-to-earth and comes somewhat quiet; whereas Cool is brilliantly intellectual, fills a room with energy, and while larger-than-life on stage is incredibly humble off-stage.
Similarly, meeting some of the New York local DJ’s has proved an incredible experience: having met Tyler Sherritt, Hyperbits, and 1/2 of Live City has added a more personal connection to their sound whenever one of their tracks pops up in their playlist: I understand a bit better how their individuality comes across in their production and arrangement choices.
Even HUGE inspirational DJ/producers whose tracks have been my support system and my anthems in times of need have managed to add dimension to the tracks I so dearly love. After winning a ticket to see Dash Berlin after EDC NY I somehow managed to see him face-to-face and shake his hand. Though very few words were spoken, and he now wears my ‘Silence in Your Heart’ kandi…I feel that whenever that track comes on, I am even more in love with it and him than ever before.
In rare cases where I met performers whose shows I attended as a discovery experience, I was met with incredible acceptance and kindness: Dirtyphonics stayed behind to sign a poster from their Irreverence tour and took a moment to meet me and thank me for coming. Le Castlevania was even kind enough to offer me water: though his music is aggressive and wholly immersive, the man himself is incredibly shy, yet down to earth.
If you ever have the chance to attend a meet and greet, or even score the rare opportunity to meet the maker of your personal anthem, DO IT. It can add such a rich dimension to your appreciation of their work.
What DJ/Producers have you been blessed to meet? Tell me in the comments 🙂
Within the first few seconds of receiving news that Sunday of Electric Zoo was cancelled, I was devastated. Distraught initially because I would once again be missing Armin and would not be seeing Vicetone. And like many, I took my fury to Twitter, lashing out angrily to every corner of the internet, blaming irresponsible people for single-handedly ruining my weekend.
That was incredibly selfish, and I’m sorry.
There were multiple factors in the cancellation of Electric Zoo, the most prominent and most reported being the two deaths due to drug overdoses. However these were not the only problems present at the festival itself. As I go on to list these issues I want to make it VERY VERY CLEAR that I am of the opinion that it was in NO WAY Made Event of the Electric Zoo 2013 officials’ fault for these problems:
- Security was not sufficient.
- Medical staff, while available did not check surrounding areas for fallen ravers.
- Certain volunteers / staff not only endorsed frequent ‘molly’ use, there was an incidence of a ‘we want molly’ tip sign at one water station.
- Certain ‘rented’ security staff was not only discourteous, they made unwanted flirtatious advances on female ravers such as myself.
- Apparel promoting drugs use was permitted at the event, only contributing to the ‘hype’ of drug use.
- Excessive shoving and general misconduct from attendees exacerbated already dehydrated ravers, only adding tension to already negative situations of crowding and overheating.
- Songs about ‘Molly’ including Tyga’s ‘Molly’ and Cedric Gervais’ hit song were dropped, only adding to unnecessary hype of the drug
Again, none of these are Made Event of Electric Zoo’s fault. It is important to note that in 2012 Electric Zoo had no deaths. As pop stars and rappers have begun to bolster the hype of drug use and wild partying, our festivals are getting inundated with unsafe expectations that tons of drugs and drinking are required to make the EDM scene enjoyable…encouraging newcomers to create their own ‘Project X‘ at shows like EDC and EZOO instead of simply coming to enjoy the music.
Spoiler Alert; You Don’t Need Drugs To Enjoy EDM
DJ’s such as Bassnectar and Brillz have released official statements about the situation, pleading with their fanbase to be safe and take accountability for their actions. Videos such as the the vimeo clip featuring major acts like Kaskade, Tommie Sunshine, Steve Aoki, and A-Trak have been circulated begging those who do partake in substances to be extremely careful of their actions.
Actions such as taking “6 hits of molly”, leaving a friend by themselves if you know that they are intoxicated or impaired, and buying illegal substances from someone you’ve never met without testing it are just a few examples of unnecessary risks that were taken and contributed to the deaths of these two young individuals. Preventable actions.
While some have made the argument that shutting down the zoo because the poor decisions of 6 people should not affect thousands who have shelled out hundreds of dollars to enjoy their favorite musicians, its important to understand that the decision was ultimately Mayor Bloomberg‘s. While it angered many, like myself it was a wake-up call: if we do not tackle this problem head-on more and more EDM events will be cancelled, banned, and characterized as ‘death fests’, ‘drug sprees’, and ravers like you and me will be labelled ‘drug addicts’. While you can’t convince major news networks to undo the damage they are doing by stigmatizing us with each and every false depiction of all ravers being drug abusers who yell ‘popped a molly I’m sweating’ every 2.5 seconds, what you can do it this:
- Don’t buy anything endorsing ‘molly’, ‘mdma’, or drugs of any kind
- Demand that your favorite DJ’s stop the endorsement of drug usage of any kind
- Demand tracks promoting ‘molly’ and other hard drugs be removed from their set lists; Heck, even walk out as soon as they come on
- Demand harsher security that ACTUALLY checks for drugs THOROUGHLY
If purging molly from our shows means we can continue to have our major festivals and enjoy our favorite acts free of stigma and death, I say let’s do it. Who’s with me?
Electric Zoo is Friday. Don’t pretend like you’re not freaking out and losing your shit in your chair. I see you internetz.
At any rate, a considerable portion of my rave family is no doubt driving, flying, training, and running into New York for their chance to go buck wild and rave like rockstars. Some things you may want to do before you go full apeshit however:
- Easy as 1,2,3…A,C,E. Familiarize yourself with the Subway system & download the HopStop app if you have a smartphone.
- Secure Home Base. Check into your hotel and write down the address on a post-it. Your phone will die, and you will forget where it is. Also write down 2 numbers of anyone you know in NYC JUST IN CASE something goes wrong with the hotel and you need to couch-surf.
- Know the cheap spots. If you’re hungry as a hippo and leaving EZoo with an empty stomach (and a weakened wallet) do your budget a favor and locate the nearest cheap pizza joint (cough, 2 Bros Pizza, cough), Gray’s Papaya (hotdog stand), or halal cart so you can fill up on the cheap.
- Familiarize Yourself With Makeup Heaven. Ricky’s NYC is the best beauty shop in the city and has a buttload of locations. Make sure you hit them up if you need ANY last minute fixes (word to the wise, their brazilian spa clay is BOMBASS <3).
- Don’t hit up the familiar. If you have time to kill and arrive a few days early, DO NOT go to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. Try swanky (and same-price) coffee shops like Culture, Gregory’s, and Birch Coffee. Culture has THE BEST melty tasty chocolate cookies on earth, and Birch has a melty grilled cheese with fontina that will make your heart swoon.
AND FINALLY, TWEET AT ME! If you get here a few days early let me treat you to a “true NY dinner”…..at Chipotle.
Sorry for the big fat lag in posts (OOPS!) anyways the last project I wanted to start does appear to have some kinks that I need to work out (video conferencing is rather tricky). However, I’m not letting that stop me, and I have one project I want to launch specifically for Electric Zoo participants!
I’m calling it ‘The Unicorn Project“, and here’s why I’m launching it: ‘PLUR‘ as a buzzword has been largely skewed since its inception. I’ve mentioned plenty of times where its true origins come from (but if you need a refresher, click here), and its inception came at a crucial moment when there needed to be a shift in the scene. With drugs references damning the scene and god only knows how many inaccurate protrayals of the scene as a whole, I felt I should at least try to offset it as best as I can. Icons who are already ‘battling’ these negative stereotypes like Lady Casa (changing form Molly Casa, to cleanse herself of the possible drug connotation) have made an impact, but I feel there needs to be a more tangible impact on a experiential level.
What It Really Means
PLUR when demonstrated doesn’t mean winning free stuff, getting discounts, rolling face on drugs, or even dressing up; on a more basic level the truest demonstrations of the concept are when a someone (even a complete stranger) gives you that last sip of water, helps you get to the font of the stage, or even helps you get home safely. It’s not about ‘partying with sluts’ or ‘freeing molly’…its truest manifestation is in the uncommon kindness of like-minded souls you may have never even met before.
The first phase of The Unicorn Project will be small-scale, very simple, and is intended to be a ‘test-run’ to see how people respond. My ‘testing ground’ will be Electric Zoo. What I wanted to do, was to create an undisclosed number of temporary tattoos with the specified design to be given to those (and only those) individuals that demonstrate what I personally feel to be true acts of what PLUR embodies. However, I realize that EZoo ends up confiscating anything they deem ‘promo material’…so that’s kind of out. Instead, what I will offer to do is draw the specific design onto anyone’s shirt/hat/butt/boobs/etc that wants it. I can draw in puff-paint leading up to the event per request for NYC residents (or anyone in the city before the event), and will (hopefully) be able to bring a sharpie or other drawing apparatus in the day of.
I’m not asking for money, I’m not asking for sponsorship or recognition: I am just asking people to be decent to one another, for which they will get a pretty doodly design. That’s it. It’s not some big crazy contest, it’s just a small token of recognition. Down the road, I’d like to expand this little project to be more in-depth and cohesive, but on a small budget and a big dream, this is what I can do for now.
I wanted to create something that had significance to me, and unicorns have always been a favorite subject for me to draw; they may not truly exist in our lives but their elegance and grace has captured the hearts and minds of poets, artists, and many others for centuries. The particular unicorn I’ve chosen isn’t a pretty rainbow-and-butterfly design; It’s an undead unicorn, a stark skull with a crooked horn and a tattered mane. This is intentional, as I feel it represents the ways that this concept of PLUR has been misused, defiled, and desecrated. But skulls have always held a special place in my heart: they are beautiful in their own simple way, and serve symbolically as a basis for a fresh start (or fresh slate if you will) on which we can reclaim and refurbish the ideology behind PLUR. I didn’t want to simply write ‘PLUR’ on the design, it would be a disservice to the design on the whole. So instead, I chose a personal mantra that I live by daily, “True compassion never dies”. On my own tank, which bears the unicorn, I do not have these words, as they have already been internalized, but I’d be happy to add them to yours. To those who show compassion, spread peace, nurture love, foster unity, and show respect towards fellow ravers and first-timers alike, this will symbol (doodled as best as humanly possible on whatever you wish) be your small token of my gratitude.