Since the FreakNight tragedy and subsequent cancellation of day two, there’s been much bemoaning of the new security policies in place at WaMu, especially the questionably legal decision to remove the stall doors at Resolution. However, increased security measures appear to be a growing trend in festivals around the nation, as the recent policies implemented by Ultra Music Festival make very clear.
Ultra’s rules begin with the old standards: no drugs, no weapons, no flammable liquids, etc. But, very quickly, things begin to get…restricted. Backpacks of any kind at an outdoor music festival? Banned. Face masks? Banned. Totems? Banned. It appears that despite the fact that face masks and totems have been key items of personal expression within the dance scene for years, they are now somehow dangerous.
Even if we ignore the hypocrisy of prohibiting harmless items like masks and totems while giving packages of cigarettes the go-ahead, many of the rules are just bizarre. While backpacks are not allowed, hydration packs are fine—so long as there are no containers to place them in. Totems aren’t allowed, but obnoxious view obstructers (aka flags) are perfectly acceptable. It’s almost as if the people behind Ultra threw darts at a chart to determine what’s acceptable or not.
While the festival hasn’t yet banned kandi creations like Mad Decent Block Party did, the same over sensationalism and fear-mongering towards drugs has clearly permeated the event. In addition to the standard pat-downs and police presence, the festival promises to have numerous undercover cops to ensure that no illegal behaviors occur.
Most ominous, however, is the line in all capital letters proclaiming: “if you SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING.” Apparently we’re back in 2002, and the threat of petty drug dealing warrants self-policing reminiscent of the Bush Administration’s war on domestic terrorism. It’s Orwellian, unnecessary, and creates problems out of otherwise benign situations.
So while Lucky’s rules are still pretty restrictive, especially the ban on hydration packs and sealed packages of gum, at least you can express yourself with totems and masks (so long as they’re not mentholated). And, you’re not being encouraged to spy on your fellow revelers in order to ensure they’re not drug dealers/terrorists, so that’s a plus.
At Dance Music Northwest, we understand that venues demand certain restrictions, and have accepted certain sacrifices in order to continue to be a part of the scene we love. But we also believe there’s a point when those restriction become ludicrous, and Ultra’s policies are walking a pretty fine line. We’d love to hear your input on venue security and rules, so let us know in our comments, Facebook, and Twitter.