Beyond the Editorial: A Call to Action to Address the RAVE Act
Almost exactly a year after I published “Revisiting The RAVE Act” – a piece that analyzed the current state of dance music and our obvious need to reevaluate drug policy – it is unsurprising, but no less disappointing, that our community finds ourselves in exactly the same place as we were nearly 365 days later. At a complete standstill.
Just weeks ago, teenagers Tracy Nguyen and Katie Dix passed away from drug overdoses in Los Angeles’ HARD Summer during what should have been just another memorable weekend of fun with their friends. Their deaths are no more important than the many others who have passed away from drug-related incidences, but for some reason, this tragedy hit the community with a resounding impact.
What we’re experiencing is the swell of an issue that is growing quickly, yet receiving little to no attention regarding a solution or preventative measure. People are angry, saddened, and confused by the situation — and by people, it includes families, friends, and countless strangers that likely never knew Tracy or Katie, and unfortunately, never will.
The most frustrating piece of the puzzle is the painful silence that follows these untimely and tragic deaths. Besides Los Angeles county’s decision to possibly place an interim ban on electronic music festivals in effort to “properly evaluate” safety measures, an enormous community of people are left to interpret these deaths on their own.
Some are frustrated; blaming the girls and their peers who choose to take drugs recreationally and chastising them for irresponsibility and ruining the fun for all. Others are hopeful; reaching out on social media and demanding an anonymous “higher figure” to take a serious look at these policies with the goal of preventing these tragedies before they occur.
To many, when Pasquale Rotella of Insomniac finally broke the upper level of silence to comment on Tracy and Katie’s deaths, it seemed like the “higher figure” we all needed was finally here. Put quaintly in an Instagram, Pasquale shared:
I’ve been incredibly saddened by yet another loss of life that’s been attributed to our culture, and I have spent the last week reflecting on how the story has played out in the media. […]
Dance culture has survived for decades and has never been more popular. Banning these events at facilities where we are able to provide first-rate medical care and emergency services is not the answer. I hope that policymakers and the media do not turn their backs on a cultural movement that is thriving and brings so much happiness to a generation that, quite frankly, needs an environment where they can feel loved and accepted. Most just want healthy interaction with their peers. I know that if I didn’t have access to this community growing up, my life would have taken a much different turn.
People were thankful that someone, really, anyone, with a public voice had stepped up to acknowledge the incident.
Without discrediting Rotella for his words and his genuine concern, it troubles me that in this stage, years into our self-proclaimed dance music boom, in a time of financial and cultural confidence, we are still afraid to mention their names and call out directly to people who can help make real change for future generations.
At heart, Rotella represents a business and though his business is rooted in emotion and a culture more so than many others on the planet, his statement is palpably restrained by the politics of his status and his work. He is tied behind his business, unable to provide the drug education and preventative tools and organizations he likely wishes he could to his thousands of attendees in fear of causing trouble on the legal front. We can’t blame him.
So where Pasquale cannot, let us speak. We are well beyond subtly asking “someone” to reconsider a ban on facilities and suggesting that policymakers give “love and care” to a massive group of young people in need.
If you, like me, are tired of sitting back and waiting for the news crews to report on yet another “Molly-induced” death, join us and take action. We are making use of Change.org to reach out to the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act (the updated edition of The RAVE Act) cosponsors Senator Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Joseph Liberman, Gordon Smith, and VP and original sponsor of the act, Joe Biden.
We are encouraging the electronic music community to keep the dialogue open and continue to share any of the countless articles that exist on various sites that examine and explain the history of drugs in dance music.
In a time when the online community has more power than ever before, perhaps we can make use of the keyboard vigilante in all of us, and come together to try and bring real change from the keyboard to real life. It’s a small step, but a call to action that requires our community now, more than ever.
Additionally, we are stating our public support of organizations like DanceSafe, a harm reduction organization that goes against all the odds to try and supply as much information about the dangers and consequences of using drugs as possible, as well as The Bunk Police, an anonymous force both dedicated to providing tools like drug-testing kits to the population as well as testing and researching the science behind what’s really in our drugs today.
On Change.org, it asks signees to consider: “Why is this important to you?” So we pose the same question to our readers and friends in the community. Tell us why electronic music is important to you or why you think this generation deserves a re-examination of our policies. We’re signing it and letting this be our first step into an active movement to creating change.
Here’s to making a difference 365 days from now.