Friday, July 2, 2010

Electric Daisy Carnival - two coins of the same side

Electric Daisy Carnival – two coins of the same side

Ryan Xristopher

I’ve been sitting on my heels for a little while, letting the Electric Daisy Carnival experience sink in, and also watching the news coverage of its aftereffects work their way through semi-mainstream consciousness.

First off, EDC was an amazing event. The people, the music, the art, the vibe, the lights – the show. I’m incredibly glad I had the opportunity to go, and though I have already experienced enough electronic music and festival atmospheres that this specific one was not going to change the course of my life, it definitely reminded me of why I care so deeply about the electronic music culture. The people, the music, the art, the vibe, the lights – the connections.

The production value of the stages, the carnival theme, the quality of the performances – all world-class, and I can’t give enough thanks to the promoters and visionaries who brought the party to life so that I could be a part of something so surreal. Above all else, I believe that human beings are unified as creatures of god, and there’s nothing like a kick drum to get us all dancing to the same universal metronome.

That said, most of the coverage of EDC as it stands right now is about the death of a 15-year old girl. Whose fault is it? Who can we blame? The culture, the promoters, the girl, her friends, her drug dealer, the police, her parents? It is her fault, because she went to an event full well knowing she was underage, because she took a drug that is known to have a potentially side-effect of death? Is it the gate guard’s fault for not checking her ID? What about whoever gave her the drugs – was it their fault for not giving her guidelines for safe use?

Those questions don’t really matter that much now, do they? Every death is a loss, regardless of how many people were at the show, regardless of statistics about injuries at rock concerts or equivalent European massives. Every death is always a loss, whether it is in Los Angeles, Afghanistan, or in an unnamed rainforest; every death a loss on purpose, by accident, or by illness. Even natural deaths are tragic – it’s always someone’s son, mother, or friend.

The sensationalism by the media surrounding deaths at events that aren’t particularly well understood (like the rave scene, for instance) is really nothing new. Headlines about tragedies get attention, and that attention creates profit through the selling of advertising space. “Girl dies from drug overdose; LA rave scene in doubt” – next to an ad selling cars, above an ad for a dating service.

And you know, for all of the reporting, it’s still being noted that there’s no way to tell if she actually died from an overdose until an autopsy is performed. Also, the news of her death quickly pushed aside some of the original first news coverage of EDC, the damning report that Lindsay Lohan was there.

There is a silent and deafening shout for heads to be severed. Drug culture! Naked people! Noise! Politicians are saying that promoters must be held accountable. City officials want to take away permits for parties on public land. Doctors are quoted saying that raves must be stopped. Dentists say pacifiers are bad for your teeth …

Well, damn. What on earth are we going to do?

The thing is, people will always create tragedy. Think for a minute if ecstasy use was totally and legally regulated. Pure MDMA (remember, one of its initial uses was as a marriage counseling drug) gets created in a sterile government lab, and each person who goes in through the main gate of a middle school science fair gets two pills specifically designed to get you safely but ridiculously high for 12 hours. Take one when you get in the door, and take another halfway through the day – the instructions say. There is a boy who, just inside the gate, convinces his friends to give up theirs so that he can take 10 right away, all at the same time – just to see.

And it would be a tragic death. And the mayor would call for an end to these regulations! And the senator would call for an end to science fairs. But caffeine and alcohol sales and regulation would continue on indefinitely, as Folgers and Smirnoff have contributed to campaign funds in the past.

This is a theater of the absurd, folks. And that’s one reason I enjoy the madness of rave culture so much, because a carnival full of fucked up people is a rather accurate and literal representation of what reality tends toward – but at a rave, at least most of us are dancing, unafraid.

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