Sunburn Festival Controversy Highlights EDM Stigma
Yesterday I was scrolling through Facebook (and realizing the extent to which my news feed is dominated by EDM-related pages) when I stumbled across an article by YourEDM. The link mentioned something about a major festival in jeopardy, and following the demise of EDC New York, Mysteryland and several other festivals this year, I was immediately concerned.
The article (click HERE to read it) was a piece about Sunburn Festival in India. I almost discounted the article as irrelevant to my North American festivals, when the phrase “I will not allow [EDM] to malign the state’s image” caught my attention. It was this phrase that gave me pause and made me pursue the article in its entirety. I came away from the piece feeling sad and more than a little disappointed.
The crux of the article was that the Minister for Water Resources openly opposed EDM festivals and did not want to let Sunburn Festival take place in India. His logic was that “In the past we witnessed deaths due to drug Overdose at the EDMs. As a true Goemkar, it’s my duty to oppose a festival of this kind, tooth and nail. At any cost, I will not allow [EDM] to malign state’s image.”
This statement is a neat little package combining patriotism, ill-perceived civic responsibility and sheer ignorance. To Vinod Palyekar (the Minister for Water Resources), EDM can be boiled down into a neat little equation. EDM = drug overdoses = bad.
I won’t go out there and say that Palyekar has never raved (maybe he has, maybe he hasn’t) but his blanket phrase that all EDM causes drug overdoses and all EDM is bad is wrong. Whether that statement is born out of political necessity, ignorance or fear really isn’t the point. EDM and EDM festivals have become a scapegoat in the discussion about drugs and safety.
EDM does not kill people.
Alcohol has killed more people in a month than EDM-related drug overdoses have in a year, but we don’t see anyone trying to ban bars and nightclubs from serving liquor. Why not? Because no one forces you to slam 10 shots of tequila and then drive home. In the same way that no one forces you to drink yourself into alcohol poisoning, no one forces you to consume lethal amounts of drugs. Understand what you put in your body, understand how it affects you, and understand how to be safe. Whether it’s liquor, drugs, or medicine, you are responsible for your own safety.
This is the conversation that needs to be had with folks who perpetuate a negative stigma on raving. People like Palyekar read the headlines like “1 Fatality at Popular EDM Festival” and automatically assume that EDM causes deaths. That EDM is the catalyst for fatalities. EDM is not evil, it does not cause deaths and it is not to blame.
My fingers are crossed for Sunburn and its attendees. For those of us who love EDM, let’s all do our part to end the negative stigma behind raving. We were all brought together by love, raving is more than lights, pounding bass and plastic pony beads. We are all one family and one PLUR community, let’s be safe and show non-ravers that EDM is not a bad thing.