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Let's Be Safe Out There

Updated on August 12, 2016
Christina St-Jean profile image

I am a mom of two awesome children who teach me more daily than I ever thought possible. I love writing, exercise, movies, & LGBT advocacy.

Music Festival Sees 3 Die At Hospitals

In 2015, two people died at the Hard Summer music festival, one of the premier electronic and hip-hop music festivals. That prompted founder Gary Richards to talk about fan safety in an interview that was run in The Los Angeles Times about a week ago. While Hard Summer organizers surely did everything they could, another three individuals who attended the festival have died in hospital.

After having people on site with ice packs and water, and ensuring safety at the gates and on the grounds, Richards remarked that in the long run, there was only so much he and festival organizers could do to ensure the safety of the patrons.

"But it comes down to the patrons," he said. "They have to be responsible for own actions. It all starts at the entrance of the festival — we have K-9 units, searches, you can’t bring in backpacks. We’ve got a system in place, but if people want to be stupid, they’re going to be stupid. We have to educate everyone, but there’s only so much you can do as promoter."

While that much is true, he also told LA Times that according to the law, he was not allowed to have an on-site drug testing company like DanceSafe at Hard Summer. He acknowledged again that organizers are doing everything that he felt they could feasibly do in order to ensure the safety of Hard Summer attendees.

"But our biggest thing is to keep (drugs) out before they get there — we have amnesty boxes, undercover agents, a thorough search," he said. "If you’re going to try to bring stuff in there, you’re probably not the smartest person on Earth."

Intelligence has nothing to do with drug use. There are some very smart people who use illicit drugs and they have thus far escaped permanent health problems. However, there are people who were quite young when they began attending concerts like Hard Summer. According to Rave News, which cites a study by the Montreal Institute for Urban Affairs, the average raver is 40 years old.

While not everyone who attends a rave might consume Ecstasy or some other illicit substance, drug use is a distinct possibility. No one can determine with 100 percent accuracy what the effect the particular drug they consume will have on their system. One time, it may just give you a buzz, but take just the right mix of chemicals and you might have a disaster.

In addition, you also need to examine the heat that several states and countries have been hit with this summer. Not everyone consumes enough water - in fact, odds are good that most people do not take in enough to stay properly hydrated. With 1,000 or more people packed into a stadium, dancing to music, heat will go up accordingly, but that doesn't mean people will take in enough water - not booze, which dehydrates, but actual water - to ensure they continue to have a good time. Add the potential for smoked drugs in the air and attendees may not be able to make healthy decisions to ensure their continued survival.

Ecstasy Doesn't Always Lead to Being Ecstatic


I'm not a doctor

I'm not a doctor, and I don't claim to be one by any stretch, but it seems to me that something needs to be done about people's lack of perception about the effects that hard drugs can have on their systems.

Young people in particular tend to take huge risks with their health and well being. A song by Travis Tritt, "Ten Feet Tall and Bulletproof," seems to encapsulate exactly the attitude so many seem to have about their survivability through everything. "It's not going to happen to me - you're worrying too much," is the line. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what the general attitude appears to be until something actually does happen and tragedy hits.

It's going to be easy for people to blame raves or EDM for the deaths that occur at these events, but the bottom line is, the people who have the idea that drugs and partying go hand in hand need a reality check. We could argue that people who drink alcohol at parties need a similar reality check, as well, because alcohol is probably one of the most common drugs, besides caffeine, on the market today.

There's a fine line between enjoying yourself and putting your life at risk. It's been the same argument that's occurred time and again about the consumption of alcohol - how much is too much? Some feels good, so a lot must feel awesome, right?


Ask anyone who's had their life ruined by overconsumption of anything that changes their overall perception of the world around them. Ask anyone who has become reliant on a substance that they were introduced to at a party that they now can't stop using because they are physically reliant. Ask anyone who's lost someone at a party - rave or otherwise - because they've consumed too many drugs or alcohol.

I'm all for a good time. I've been involved in a few parties as I was growing up, but I've also had some hard experiences that I still reflect on and realize I was lucky. Like any adult with kids, my heart aches for the families of the young people who continue to be lost at parties like the rave at Hard Summer. Sure, the investigation is ongoing, but odds are good that a combination of drugs, alcohol and heat may well have been the fatal blows.

We've got to start thinking, people. Why automatically associate drugs and alcohol with having a good time? Media messaging has been powerful about that over the years, particularly when it comes to alcohol use and relaxation or partying, but it seems that anti-drug and alcohol organizations are fighting uphill battles against powerhouses in the industry. We claim to be smarter than the messages that the media sends to us.

Why don't we start acting like it?

And now for some MDMA...also a party hit, apparently.


HardSummer 2016 news clip

Party On - But Be Careful


Partying is not evil

Partying is not evil, and it doesn't lead to evil things. Sometimes we forget that people have the power of choice, and sometimes, as is a human being's wont to do, we make stupid decisions. Pointing the fingers at everyone else besides the people responsible for choosing to not make a reasonable decision is equally irresponsible, though it is something that we as a society seem bent on doing every time something tragic happens.

I know it's hard, but we do have to remember that people will make bad choices regardless of what we do, and that's a bitter pill to swallow, particularly when younger people are involved.

Just take a breath, and stop and think before you do whatever it is you plan on doing, OK? Your loved ones will thank you.


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