One of the country’s top electronic music festivals, Electric Zoo, recently cancelled its third day of programming after two concert goers who attended the first two days of the concert died due to what appear to be drug related issues. Four other concert goers are also currently being hospitalized and are in serious condition after using drugs at the festival. The decision to cancel the last day of the festival was made by the event’s producer, Made Event, in conjunction with the New York City Parks Department. Festival passes, which carried a relatively hefty fee at $179.00 a day will be refunded to ticket holders who were intending on attending the last day of the festival.
The drug that seems to be responsible for the deaths and injuries at the festival seems to be MDMA, which is often known by its street name Ecstasy. MDMA was developed in Europe at the turn of the century and was popularized in the United States in the 1970’s by experimental psychiatrists and therapists who initially used the drug in an attempt to help patients find answers about themselves and their relationships.
It was soon found, however, that MDMA was not in fact the constructive tool that therapists initially believed it to be. The drug was found to have serious risks associated with it, including dehydration, overheating, and heat stroke. Even attempts to avoid overheating and dehydration can be fatal when a person is under the influence of MDMA, as the drug can cause the body to retain water, and injuries caused by excessive water intake can be fatal.
Drugs and Electronic Music
The drug Ecstasy has long been associated with the electronic music scene. The Electric Zoo is not the site of the first MDMA related fatalities. Over the last decade, there have been a number of drug related deaths at electronic music parties, often referred to as raves. At an electronic music festival called the Electric Daisy concert in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2010, a fifteen year old girl died of an apparent overdose. The drug is popular among young people and electronic music concert goers in particular because it alters the way a person experiences music and may compel them to spend all night dancing.
Drugs can be particularly dangerous in the context of a large concert or festival because due to the nature of the event, it can be difficult to notice in a large crowd when someone is exhibiting signs of overdose or heat stroke. Young people are often unsupervised at these events, and extremely large crowds of people are difficult for security to monitor effectively. Most venues and producers do make an effort to curtail drug use at their events. Drugs are prohibited, and there is generally signage outside of events reminding concert goers of this. Security checks are also par for the course at most large venues.
What Can Be Done?
As Ecstasy deaths and injuries continue to occur in growing numbers, parents and government officials are searching for ways to stop the spread of this dangerous drug. Some cities have banned raves altogether, and there is currently legislation being drafted in California that would make raves illegal throughout the entire state. While this could potentially reduce MDMA related fatalities, laws like this may also be met with opposition, as many concert goers legitimately attend concerts for the music and do not abuse drugs.
The most effective way of reducing Ecstasy injuries may lie in parents educating their teens about the dangers of MDMA and in young adults to make wise decisions about the way in which they enjoy a concert.