I Am a Music Fan
We love to go out to music festivals or clubs. We listen, we dance, we connect with friends. And regardless of whether we use alcohol or other drugs, we know they’re a part of our scene.
We also know that zero tolerance policies don’t stop people from using drugs. We want practical changes so we can still go out and have fun while keeping people as safe as possible.
Drug Education at Festivals
The TomorrowWorld festival in Atlanta did something extraordinarily smart and innovative by giving festivalgoers access to safety information on everything from drug use to hearing protection. The promoters, ID & T, invited DanceSafe, which brought 18 workers to the festival to distribute information.
This was an important first step toward addressing the issue of drug use at festivals head on. And more than that, it was a model for prioritizing the health and safety of festivalgoers – even in the context of a “zero tolerance” drug policy environment.
Other Countries Leading the Way on Health and Safety
In the U.S., we are just beginning to embrace the idea that health and safety should be the top priorities, but other countries are farther along. New Zealand recently passed a law to make it safer to take drugs. The government there realized that people were using these substances whether they were legal or not, and that they would be less risky if producers were held accountable for safety and labeling.
The new law also keeps people out of the criminal justice system by removing the possibility of arrest for possessing or using these drugs. Because New Zealand’s government has recognized that locking people up for putting a substance in their body is a waste of time and money, New Zealanders will be able to use these drugs at clubs and festivals without fear of being stopped by police.
New Zealand isn’t the only place innovating around nightlife drug policies. Europe has a network of harm reduction organizations, nightlife professionals and local and regional authorities that have come together for the Nightlife Empowerment & Well-Being Implementation Project (NEWIP). This group promotes health and harm reduction in recreational settings, including by testing substances on-site at events and sharing information with each other. We’re still far from that level of sophistication in the U.S., but NEWIP provides a model for putting health and safety first.
Resources for Nightlife Fans in the U.S.
- Watch and share a video featuring A-Trak, Steve Aoki, Tommie Sunshine and other top DJs about staying safe when using MDMA/molly:
- DanceSafe, the oldest volunteer-run festival and rave harm reduction organization, provides accurate drug information and testing kits, and shows you how to start a chapter in your area.
- Erowid features curated “trip reports” that detail the experience of others using well known and new substances.
- Find out what’s in pills and powders that are going around with lab-tested results coordinated by DanceSafe and Erowid.
- Get testing kits for cocaine, ketamine, LSD, MDMA/ecstasy, mescaline from Bunk Police.
- Check out presentations from the Club Health San Francisco conference on protecting and promoting health in nightlife settings, held for the first time in North America in May 2013.
- Promote drug policy reform and provide harm reduction services at nationally touring artists shows and festivals by volunteering with the AMPLIFY Project, a side project of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
- The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) provides on-site psychedelic harm reduction services at festivals through the Zendo Project, and offers basic information about how to help someone having a difficult psychedelic experience.
- Dance music fans can support harm reduction efforts and other positive change within their community by joining the Electronic Music Alliance.
- Are you in charge of promoting or running nightlife in your area? Membership in the Sociable City network will give you access to planning and management best practices.