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How To Really, Truly Prevent Deaths At EDM Festivals

Preventing EDM festival deaths

The Tools For Survival Aren’t Available To Us

We all know what’s coming following yet another death. Harsher security measures. More drug dogs. Invasive pat-downs. An army of undercover law enforcement. Events in the Northwest and across the country are quickly beginning to feel more like police states than places of love and acceptance. All the while, organizations like Dance Safe and Bunk Police aren’t legally allowed to act as an alternative. Why? Because of one outdated bill from the long-since failed War on Drugs: The RAVE Act (formally known as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act).

“Too many young people are dying, and the 2003 RAVE Act is part of the problem because it is preventing the implementation of common sense safety measures at these events. It is time for a ‘safety first’ approach to drug use that emphasizes harm reduction alongside current law enforcement efforts.”

Dede Goldsmith, Mother and “Amend the Rave Act” Advocate

Essentially the law makes it so any promoter, venue, or event company allowing testing kits and harm reduction literature into their events is implicitly promoting illegal drug use. “Crack house laws” that before were limited to — you guessed it, crack houses — were expanded to encompass concert venues, making it so the government could prosecute any venue or promoter for trying to keep people safe. A law that was meant to prevent rampant and irresponsible drug use has been responsible for killing the very same people it was written to protect. It’s a shameful, horrifically ineffective bill, and as long as it remains in play as written, people will continue to die.

We don’t have to accept this though. Already, there’s a movement out there to garner support for amending the RAVE Act to allow better access to harm reduction measures. As of publishing for this article, a petition to Congress is approaching 10,000 signatures, and we need more. This is an issue that matters to every single person who’s ever found a home in raving. This transcends genres, regions, and borders. This right here is our chance to leave a lasting legacy on our scene: To put our names on real, actionable change. Imagine the speaking power of a million signatures. Or two million. Or ten. Let your voice be heard, and sign the petition to amend the RAVE Act here.

The Choice is Still Ours

“But then doesn’t that mean it’s the RAVE Act’s fault, and not ours?”

We keep hearing this kind of blame shifting, and it’s flat-out wrong. It’s easy for us to think outward, but in the end we are the only people in control of our decisions. Without the tools to properly educate and inform ravers, all that’s left is us, the attendees. With that, our attack needs to be multi-faceted and sincere.

First, as a community of ravers we need to aspire to be better in every sense of the word. At least consider the possibility of not railing that strange white powder the guy with huge pupils handed you. Simply put, go for the music, not the artificial experience of drugs. If that doesn’t sound like something you can do, maybe stop and reconsider why you’re here in the first place. And if you feel it absolutely necessary to imbibe, for the love of Christ, test your drugs.

Second, we need to scream from every mountaintop, amend the god damn RAVE Act. We know legislation doesn’t sound like the way you’d spend your weekend, but we need to make amending the RAVE Act sexy. Until DanceSafe and others are allowed inside our events, tragedy will be an inevitability. Our rave scene dies with the people who make poor, uneducated, or underinformed decisions, and the longer the RAVE Act remains the law of the land, the more chances brand new festivalgoers have to make potentially fatal mistakes. Without immediate accessibility, harm reduction simply doesn’t have a fighting chance.

In the past, we’ve been committed to helping our local community function with the resources that are currently available. There’s a veritable treasure trove of online resources that’ll tell you exactly how and how not to use virtually every drug in existence. Hell, you can order your own testing kit on Amazon and it’ll arrive your doorstep 48 hours later. And yet, people are still dying.

Unless these resources are practically shoved in front of people everywhere they go, the majority aren’t ever going to utilize them to stay safe. We even have real, tangible data telling us that a staggering 50% of people won’t take a drug if it tests as something other than what they bought. Based on that alone, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be doing everything in our power to bring DanceSafe and others into our festivals and events to provide testing.

Our message is simple: Amend the RAVE Act. Control what you put in your body. Try raving sober and let the experience speak for itself. Whatever you do, remember that you are the only person ultimately responsible for your own safety. Our scene shouldn’t…no, our scene can’t be defined by a body count. It’s time you asked yourself: Are you really serious about saving lives at festivals? You can bet we are. Now will you join us?

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