Electric Zoo creators discuss 2013 deaths and introduce ‘Zookeepers’ as safety precaution
With only a weekend in between the inaugural return of New York’s Electric Zoo, many are turning their attention in anxious anticipation to the three day festival. One year ago, the festival was abruptly cut one day short due to two drug-related deaths. The tragic event lit the fuse to an already brewing concern in mass media regarding the dangerous party antics often associated with EDM and dance music festivals. Unfortunately, Olivia Rotondo and Jeffrey Russ were not the only deaths reported in association with music festivals and EDM shows in the coming year. Against all odds, the promoters have campaigned and reformed in order to return in hopes of hosting another edition of the new and safety improved Electric Zoo.
In a new interview with the CEOs of Made Event and creators of Electric Zoo, Mike Bindra and Laura dePalma, published in The New York Times, the two open up regarding their own reactions to the deaths at their festival. Bindra explained, “We were devastated. It was – and I mean it – my and Laura’s worst fear, come to life.” Though Bindra faced momentary scrutiny following the passing of the two attendees for his past relations with a drug-flooded venue, he and dePalma remain adamant about bringing the party back while simultaneously acknowledging that something had to be done to educate and hopefully prevent further incidents.
Besides their PSA drug-awareness video required to be viewed by all festival goers that spread through the Internet a few weeks ago, Bindra and dePalma have introduced other new security measures. In hopes of bridging the gap between security personnel and attendees that may find themselves in need of assistance or medical attention, Electric Zoo will introduce a group of medical students named the ‘Zookeepers’ to the venue grounds. The promoter duo hopes that the Zookeeper alternative will encourage fellow college-age attendees to approach staff when in need of help.
However, Electric Zoo also went against fan expectations when the show released its list of prohibited items; of which, Camelbaks were listed as a banned item to prevent the smuggling of illicit drugs inside the festival. The decision has caused tumultuous outcry from fans more concerned about dehydration risks than alleged drug smuggling.
All hindrances aside, Bindra, dePalma, and owner of SFX Entertainment and partial stake owner of Made Events, Robert Sillerman, remain positive about the upcoming show. “[Mr. Sillerman] referred to this year’s Electric Zoo, which starts Aug. 29, as “a homecoming,” hoping […] that the festival would move beyond tragedy and get back to its roots as ‘a major celebration.'”
Via: NY Times