Reevaluating EDM Culture: Reflection of Tragedy at Electric Zoo

Reevaluating EDM Culture: Reflection of Tragedy at Electric Zoo

Social media buzzed with disappointment Sunday morning on labor day weekend because the third day of Electric Zoo was cancelled.  The festival was shut down after the second day resulted in the deaths of 20-year-old Olivia Rotondo and 23-year-old Jeffrey Ross and left multiple patrons hospitalized.  It was first believed that these victims overdosed on Molly (MDMA) but now it seems that the two may have mistakenly taken bath salts or methylone.

When news broke that the last day of Ezoo was not happening, upset ticket-holders began posting selfish comments about how angry they were that they could not rage.

Check out #ezoo on any social media site and you’ll get a taste of the viscous, spiteful raver.

Such reactions on my newsfeed included, “Why does their bad decision ruin the fun for all of us?” or “why can’t people handle their shit?” or straight-up “this is bullshit.”

I can understand how it is a bummer to not be able to attend a festival you were looking forward to.  What I do not understand is how anyone feels fine about being so thick-headed and insensitive towards the two victims.

The dance music scene once found pride in their sense of community and understanding.  Concepts such as PLUR were created to focus on the peace, love, unity, and respect in the EDM scene before it turned into just wearing/trading a bunch of stupid friendship bracelets. What is respectful about talking badly about people who died saying they just couldn’t handle their shit?

Anyone that attends music festivals and partakes in hard drug use or heavy drinking is at risk to a similar fate.  Entertainment writer/editor Kia Makarechi said it best in his opinion piece for the Huffington Post:

“Of course ‘all’ dance music fans don’t use drugs. It’s unclear what percentage of fans do and how that compares to other genres. The second assertion, that ‘plenty’ of EDM fans ‘do drugs responsibly,’ is the type of thought that keeps D.A.R.E. counselors and parents up at night. It’s impossible to do drugs — particularly those in powder, rock or pill form, like MDMA and ecstasy — responsibly. In the absence of on-site pill testing, it’s virtually impossible that the vast majority of fans have any reasonable idea what’s in their drugs. That’s to say nothing of latent health conditions which can cause serious injury and/or fatalities when revealed by drugs that put additional stress on the body.”

No one should be pointing fingers or passing judgment on how these two died. It is not the festival promoters or the medics fault and no one should ever blame the genre of music.  Each genre of music has had dark points with the rise of popularity.

As a patron of a massive music festival you are solely responsible for yourself and majority of individuals who take drugs at events like this are very aware of the possible outcomes. We are not invincible. People make mistakes.

With that said, the EDM scene needs to reevaluate why they go to music festivals like Ezoo and become more educated after this tragedy.  Are you really there for the music? Do these experiences with your peers compare when sober? If the scene regained care and truly embodied the sense of community it had originally promoted, maybe attendees would not feel the need to take a drug to capture that emotion.

In the end, Mayor Bloomberg knew the words to describe the current Ezoo catastrophe, “people doing drugs that shouldn’t be doing drugs, and you see the fatal consequences.  And when people want to go down that slippery slope and say oh it’s just fun, it isn’t just fun.  There are two families that are not going to have their children come home.”