Festival cut short after tragedy strikes two young audience members.
Electric Zoo might be considered the Mecca of the EDM scene. Since 2009, Made Event, a promotion and production company for electronic music concerts and festivals, has organized Electric Zoo in the exciting atmosphere of New York City’s Randall’s Island Park. Every year, Electric Zoo hosts some of the best names in the EDM scene, such as Flux Pavilion, Skrillex, and Deadmau5. The 2013 Electric Zoo festival last weekend was no different, except for a devastating tragedy resulting in two deaths.
On Friday night, a 23-year-old male was rushed to the hospital after what appeared to be a drug overdose, and died. On Saturday, a similar situation happened to a 20-year-old female. Four other Electric Zoo attendees were hospitalized in intensive care, according to the New York Police Department.
The tragedies resulted in Electric Zoo management cancelling the last day of the festival, Sunday September 1st. “The founders of Electric Zoo send our deepest condolences to the families of the two people who passed away this weekend. Because there is nothing more important to us than our patrons, we have decided in consultation with the New York City Parks Department that there will be no show today,” the management posted on Electric Zoo’s Facebook page.
The cancellation caused very mixed reactions from the festival attendees. “Why do the bad choices of two people have to ruin everyone else’s weekend?” commented multiple attendees on Facebook. “Electric Zoo made the right decision to cancel today to possibly have the opportunity to bring you a show next year,” another attendee said, responding to the negative attitudes of the commenters.
Unfortunately, the tragedy at Electric Zoo provides the opportunity for ignorant media outlets to create unnecessary paranoia, and for people in power to restrict the appearances of future electronic music festivals. ABC News, The Huffington Post, and the New York Daily News all reported that the two victims “possibly”/ “allegedly” overdosed on the drug MDMA, however no official toxicology or cause of death report has been released. Nonetheless, articles abound on the Internet about the dangers of electronic music festivals and raves that are supposed hotspots for drug users. Geoffrey Croft, President of NYC Park Advocates, told the New York Daily News, “These events are out of control, and they shouldn’t be happening on park property.” Electric Adventure, an annual electronic music festival at Six Flags New England in September, has already been cancelled due to the events at Electric Zoo.
I anticipate there will be more negativity towards the EDM scene, and therefore want to emphasize that the EDM scene is based on a philosophy called PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect. While drug use may occur among some, just like in any youth culture, drugs have nothing to do with EDM’s values. This summer, I attended Camp Bisco, a three-day electronic music festival outside of Albany. I met some of the most kind, generous, open-minded people in my life, and it was an amazing experience.
At Camp Bisco, just like any other music festival, my friends and I were dependent upon each other and no one else; it was our individual responsibility to make sure we were well fed and hydrated. As long as Bisco provided me with ways to obtain food and free water, I could not ask for anything else. At Electric Zoo, there was access to free water and a medical center, along with hundreds of staff. I find it extremely devastating that two people died and that fact will never be justified, but every guest to a festival enters at his/her own caution. To condemn an entire group of people, such as the EDM scene, would be completely unfair. It is essential for promotion and production companies like Made Event to require waivers for guests in order for these festivals to continue without liability.
While we still do not know what exactly caused the death of those two people, let this awful tragedy serve as a reminder to consider all the risks before we make certain choices. Most importantly, we can never make assumptions about a group due to a few isolated incidents. I believe one Facebook commenter on the Electric Zoo page sums it up perfectly: “I hope the families [of the victims] understand that it was not the party that killed them. It’s the lack of knowledge in their experimentation that did.”