Using Drugs at EDC? Here's How to Stay Safe and Look Out for Others

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June 20, 2014 - By Oriana Mayorga

I am a non-problematic drug user and a proud electronic dance music (EDM) fan. And yes, there are many of us that exist. In fact, I’d like to think that we represent the majority of the EDM community.

With Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of safer drug use in the EDM scene, especially since I am also the big sister to a soon-to-be 18 year-old. Frequently, media coverage tends to portray EDM participants as a collective group of reckless drug users who regularly put their lives at risk for an evening or weekend of fun.

This of course is not true and personally, I know a lot of electronic dance music fans for whom public health, more specifically, responsible drug use is a major priority.

I began enjoying music shows in my late teens and now that I am in my early twenties, I feel strongly about giving back this community. I am currently an intern and volunteer for DanceSafe and the harm reduction education I have learned from DanceSafe has been very valuable to the enjoyment of my music festival experiences.

The bright yellow tee-shirts worn by the trained DanceSafe volunteers grabbed my attention almost immediately. Their booths are always filled with free, honest, fact-based drug information cards, condoms, earplugs, vitamins, water and sunscreen.  DanceSafe does not condone or condemn drug use, rather volunteers are there to help you out if you need a place to chill for a bit or want an informed person to speak to about harm reduction.

You don’t need to be a part of Dancesafe to practice harm reduction with others. Sensible drug use can take many forms, such as testing your substances before using or wearing ear plugs at shows. Even sharing your water with someone standing next to you might make a big difference in someone’s experience. We all have been that person who needs a little help before. And if you haven’t yet, you or one of your friends might be someday.

Trading kandi, the colorful beads given as a friendly gesture, comes second to aiding someone who looks sick. For those of you enjoying shows and festivals for the first time, do not idly pass by the stranger who looks ill. There is nothing wrong with asking someone how they’re doing.  I can assure you that missing the opening or closing of your favorite set is worth helping someone get medical attention. It could possibly save their lives.

Pasquale Rotella, who runs Insomniac Events, said just yesterday in a Reddit AMA that he won’t be having DanceSafe at EDC.  This is disappointing but until we all work together to change his mind I urge my festival veterans to look out for one another. Let’s continue to teach the importance of harm reduction to all concert goers.

I have faith that this community will learn from past incidents, and value the practice of safe, responsible drug use so that everyone may have positive experiences at music events.

Oriana Mayorga is an intern for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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