A Call to Ravers

On Sunday, my dream of attending Electric Zoo festival in NYC this year was shattered when the final day, the one and only day I had a ticket for, was canceled due to two untimely deaths, and other ‘health hazards’ in relation to ‘drug usage’, so the media says.

Although I do not think that the entire day-3 of Ezoo should have been canceled for thousands of fans, my own disappointment pales in comparison to the true issues regarding these circumstances.

On Sunday I went through a wide array of emotions. I woke up with excitement which was quickly replaced with a sick sensation in the pit of my stomach. At first, I was angry that the poor decisions of few cost the festival for all. But then I was overcome with a deep feeling of sadness for the two that passed. And finally, I was disgusted at the comments coming from both my own peers and other strangers, ‘ravers’, on social media.

Victim blaming is not the answer here. Saying someone ‘deserved to die because they took a drug’ is not the answer. Do not call yourself PLUR and then claim that a person deserved to die for a YOLO-influenced mistake that they made.

Our scene is being taken over by the mainstream, and we are well aware of it. We are aware of those that show up in “Where’s Molly” hats and only come to EDM shows in order to consume illicit drugs.  And we don’t like those people, for the bad reputation and images they portray us as. They are there for the wrong reasons. But that does not mean that they ‘deserve to die’.

So this is my call to ravers, to those who go for the music. To those who know that EDM shows can make the soberest of people feel alive, feel high on the beats and drunk off of the bass. To those who go for the peace, the love, the unity, the respect. To those who flock to the dance floor for an hour or two of a judgement-free world. To those who have truly lived in the moment, forgot the pain, misunderstandings, and hardships of the real world by getting lost in the melodies of their favorite songs. This is my call to you.

Have respect. The young man that passed away at Ezoo was a son, the girl was a daughter. They had best friends, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, just like you and I. They made a mistake that could have easily been avoided, and they suffered the ultimate consequence. It’s hard not to blame those who died for the cancelation, saying they don’t know their limits, or made a poor decision, or weren’t there for the right reasons, but keep in mind that was a person, a spirit, a human being. A life that was taken too soon.

Get back to the love. One of the reasons I fell in love with the rave culture was because of the love that engulfed me at every show. People should still be looking out for one another, making sure they are alright, have enough water, are eating or using the bathroom or sitting down if need be. Even if you think this person “is there for the wrong reasons”. If someone looks like they are in true danger, get them help. Do not assume their friends will take care of them. BE their friend. Be their savior.

Stop with the judgement. Listen, I hate the bros that go for the drugs as much as you do. But, maybe instead of hating on them, you could try and show them the reasons you rave. Teach them about your favorite DJ or tell them why you love the scene so much. If they don’t like the music, hopefully they’ll stop going to shows. But fighting someone with PLUR will hopefully change their perspective on things a bit.

And here is my call to society.

Instead of minimizing this incident as merely a ‘drug overdose’ because of some irresponsible decisions, one that could have been avoided if all drugs were avoided at all costs always, maybe we should start educating on drug usage.

The “Drugs Are Bad, Mmmk” tactic is clearly not working. If someone wants to experiment with drugs, they are going to do it. Abstinence is not key- protection is key.

So instead of preaching that drugs are always dangerous and addictive and cause deaths, how about we educate ourselves, our peers, and our children on drug usage in order to allow for ‘safer’ consumption. I am not advocating that illicit drugs are safe- I am arguing that there are ‘safer’ approaches to engage with these drugs.

We need to teach about how these drugs biologically affect the body, what to expect when taking them, how to avoid dehydration or over-hydration, what a lethal dosage is, what not to combine, etc.

And equally important, testing kits need to be made readily available. Why people would ever buy drugs from a stranger is beyond me. You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) take a drink from a stranger if you didn’t see the bartender pour it would you? That is the first thing we learn in college- how to avoid the roofie-colada.

I mean, your parents checked your candy that your NEIGHBORS gave you on Halloween to make sure you weren’t being poisoned- so why would you ever buy drugs from a stranger at a festival?

However, people do. And therefore they should have a way to test what they buy to make sure it is not something more powerful, addictive, or dangerous than they think.

Education is key. This could have been avoided if the poor girl at Ezoo knew that 6 pills is a dangerous starting amount.

Looking out for one another is key. You could save a life simply by being a helping hand if you notice someone falling ill.

Love is key. Stop the disrespect. Do not blame these two for their mistakes. Do not judge them. Instead, teach others what you know, fill up their water bottle, send them to erowid.org, show them how fun sober shows are- help this be avoided in the future.

It was not the victims’ faults Ezoo was canceled- on a societal level, it was ours.

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Kaskade: A Man Who Truly Loves His Job (HQ Beachclub)

Alright. I tried not to do this. I tried to keep this blog general, relatable, humorous, inquisitive or whatever, and not full of reviews of specific events, but it’s now almost been a week and I feel the need to write about the wonder that was June 1.

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Last weekend Kaskade graced Atlantic City with his presence by playing at the Revel’s HQ nightclub on May 31, and then again at the new HQ Beachclub on June 1.

While I was unable to attend his nightclub set, I made sure to find myself a little spot on the dancefloor at the Beachclub to witness for the first time one of my favorite DJs do his thang.

And boy did he do it well.

Behind the DJ booth, Matt Goldman started the party at this Vegas-style club, complete with a pool, bars, views of the Atlantic Ocean, and VIP service if you so choose.

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From the beginning, you could tell that people were there to get down. Dancing was already occurring in the shallow end of the (what I can only assume to be) heated pool, drinks were being served…and spilled… and the music was only getting louder.

As time passed, I soon found my way to my desired spot for the afternoon: right near the front. Usually at shows I stand off to the side or near the back. But not for Kaskade.

As 3 pm approached, you could sense the anticipation in the crowd. We were ready for some Summer Lovin’.

Kaskade began his memorable set with a tease, playing the song Atmosphere before its actual release. Finally seeing Kaskade behind that booth after waiting hours in the hot sun mixed with hearing an amazing new song live made the crowd go wild.

I briefly glanced around behind me to see everyone singing along to the moving lyrics, jumping out of excitement, and smiling widely. There was not a still nor silent person in that crowd.

Kaskade moved along his set by playing some crowd favorites (and/or mash-ups) such as Eyes, Lessons in Love, Turn it Down, Last Chance, 4 a.m.,  and Room for Happiness.

While I was hoping and somewhat expecting to hear some of these songs, what really made the crowd ecstatic was his insertion of multiple genres, including some (but not too much) trap.

Kaskade even incorporated a mix of Zedd’s hit tune Clarity (although playing such an, in my opinion, over-played song shocked me a bit, but I suppose he was trying to appease all members of the crowd by playing something they know.)

Whenever the crowd was starting to slow down or lose energy, Kaskade would change it up in order to bring us right back to our dancing feet! Signs of a great DJ!

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What impressed me the most about Kaskade’s performance was how much you could truly tell he enjoys his job. Not only was he into his music, but he was dancing around, jumping up and down, smiling, interacting with the audience (I swear we shared a moment during Turn it Down), and singing along.

Knowing he enjoyed what he was doing made it that much more enjoyable for us, the crowd.

He even ReTweeted my compliment about it later that night.

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One of the most memorable moments was during No One Knows Who We Are, when everyone’s hands were high to the sky and voices were singing loudly along with the words, including, of course, Kaskade.

There was such a sense of camaraderie and unison among the crowd at that time and space. We were one, living in that moment, brought together by Kaskade’s music. “We are right now”.

As time passed way too quickly, Kaskade left us with the statement, “I think I convinced these guys to let me come back”, and I tell ya, Kaskade, I sure hope you do.

This may have been my first time seeing him, but it will definitely not be my last.

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*Pictures from instagram : @dtam09

*Follow me on Twitter: @Dat_assh