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 messy aftermath of various tragedies at electronic festivals and club events, mainstream media seems to be a unified parrot trained to squawk the word ‘molly’ in hopes of grabbing the attention of readers and scaring sheltered soccer moms everywhere. Despite DJ’s, festival organizers, and members of the community coming forward to speak out and stop the onslaught of scapegoating of the electronic music industry (and scene) it would appear that the mainstream has found a prized scapegoat to sink their chupacabra-like smear-campaign fangs into until they’ve sucked the industry dry.
It is not myth that drugs are present at festivals of all kinds, not just electronic. It is also not a myth that sober patrons of these festivals exist. When 11 Alive News decided to seek out patrons using ‘molly’ or drugs of any kind viewers witness the archaic and journalistically unsound practice of ‘muckraking’, as defined above. Where other reports spoke to the music, the partons, and went out of their way to present diverse opinions it would seem that the staff of 11 Alive willfully ignored the music, and decidedly opted not to show any patrons who were enjoying TomorrowWorld sober: A regrettably biased decision.
What shocked me most about the report was how focused the reporters were on montages of ‘Molly’ apparel (it should be noted, such clothing was publicly banned and should not have been allowed to enter the premises) and pestering anyone they met about if they were ‘looking for molly’ or ‘found molly’. The entire report almost felt like a set-up: no matter what the only concern these reporters had was that they ‘found molly’ and slandered everyone as thoroughly as possible.
That isn’t reporting.
While the full written transcript made mention of ‘amnesty bins‘ (which they seemed unable or unwilling to locate) and bag pat-downs, it was clear that the author had little to no interest in anything but painting the picture of ‘yet another drugfest’ just like every other mainstream news source. What shocked me, is in the preview for the event where they spoke about preparations being made to accommodate the event, ‘molly’ wasn’t mentioned. Leading me to wonder if their insistence for harping on the drug’s presence was some weak attempt to keep pace with the demand to demonize electronic music across the country.
Curiously enough, there were no articles after the local ‘beer fest’ commenting on drunk and disorderly patrons, nor was their any mention of marijuana users at their local Midtown Music festival. Yet somehow, the clamor to hear about another drug-fueled concert scene to further demonize EDM gave them reason to go ‘undercover’. Thirsty for a chance to increase web traffic and scare the locals into protesting TomorrowWorld (more than likely the sheltered mom demographic), they pounced on an easy story and went out of their way to present a one-sided “this festival is only about the drugs” picture that made a mockery of the practice of journalism. This, my friends, is muckraking at its very finest.
Had they BOTHERED to interview a DJ, or talk to a sober raver, or even just stop for a moment to enjoy the waves of sound, a more unbiased and equally hard-hitting report could have taken shape. What a tragic pity.
Perhaps if they applied the same jaded lens to their stories about country music, hip-hop, and rock concerts (where I am CERTAIN ample amounts of marijuana and other substances can be found) I would be more inclined to take their article seriously.
I wanted to gather my thoughts and take time to fully address this post’s subject matter before officially releasing the statements I am about to make.
As you may know, in the past my posts have mentioned drug usage and how ‘wild’ I party. I don’t deny that I have used substances in the past, and may choose to use substances in the future (and yes, I count alcohol as a controlled substance).
In the past, I have started light-hearted, but in retrospect hurtful hashtags such as ‘#mollyslutting’ that have added to the problem; I will not in the future. Whether is be a metamorphosis or a mass retraction, I am shortly approaching the anniversary of the day I started @Ragehound. The first tweet. The first bandana. The first event where I was someone new, and could take refuge by an identity I constructed.
And as part of this ‘anniversary’ I have taken time to reflect on the music I love and the people within the ‘scene’ that I adore. And upon reflection I have decided to issue an ultimatum to DJ’s, to Apparel companies, and to other anons I associate with.
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?
It’s not often that the people around you surprise you. I’ve been fairly new to this scene, and have even been shocked by how open and accepting the EDM community and PLUR believers have been to me; it’s genuinely shocking in this day and age.
Where those around me in other walks of life are still jaded with the negativity of what our society has aggressively forced us to accept as ‘realism’, the vibrant kandi-mask clad faces of my Twitter followers and newly made friends remind me that there is a generation that has managed to break free of this perpetuated defeatist nonsense.
Some may knock on familiar faces in the scene like Lady Casa for trying to break out and use EDM to platform ideals that are more complex than just feeling the music and embracing the scene, but in her creed of ‘namaste’ and unity of spirituality I see a glimmer of hope in the scene.
The stigma perpetuated by mainstream media would have us believe that raves, festivals, underground DJ sets, and DJs who do not occupy the top 40 on most radio stations preach a creed of drug addiction and social deviancy. Perhaps we need the ultra-spiritual faces of Lady Casa to combat this negative stereotype.
This will come off ranty and I apologize, but I think its high-time we took a moment to analyze what specifically about our scene makes it so deviant to the outside world.
- Is it the costumes? They are simply a free expression of who we are in that moment.
- Is it the kandi? These have been banned at some venues, but what is the harm?
- Is it the glovers? Though they are often there to entertain the eyes of those rolling, no everyone who asks for a lightshow is on drugs.
- Is it the drugs? Weed can be found at nearly all concerts, and molly has begun to appear at rap venues and even some rock venues as well; and even then, it’s not exclusive to edm…and edm does not exclusively promote it, nor should it be defined solely on one aspect.
- Is it the message? Tell me, would you rather a message of ‘express yourself’ and ‘free your mind’ or a message of ‘fuck lots of women’ and ‘spend your money lavishly and foolishly’? The message behind most EDM songs are not extensively about degrading women and abusing alcohol.
As we move forward as one united family of like-minded individuals, I just wish we had more voices for this message of acceptance, and more receptive ears to combat the negative stigma prolifically injuring the EDM scene.
Im am not Lady Casa, nor would I ever dream to compare myself to her, but as RageHound I want to express my love for a scene that has chosen to love me, and my gratitude at their acceptance. I just wish this acceptance was more recognized by the masses.