Will all that Molly eventually kill this party?
EDM is suddenly worth billions, DJs are now the richest entertainers alive, and anything ‘electric’ is usually packing arenas for entire weekends. The only problem is that EDM fans keep frying their brains, for good.
Case in point: just this weekend, EDM festival Electric Zoo was forced to abruptly shut down following two MDMA-related deaths. Jeffrey Russ, 23, was rushed to Harlem Hospital Center before being pronounced dead at 3:10 am; Olivia Rotondo, 20, died at another nearby hospital a few hours earlier. Both deaths are thought to be connected with heavy use, irresponsible use, or sketchy contaminations of MDMA (and its street derivatives ‘molly’ and ecstacy).
The question is what level of responsibility promoters and venues must assume, and more importantly, how this affects the trajectory of this explosive genre. Sketchy dealers are often blamed for casualties, as are naive, irresponsible users (as in the case of a 15-year-old who overdosed at Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010).
So… blame the user?
And what about not doing X in the first place? One problem is that the drug is so central to EDM culture, that few with financial interests tied to the genre are willing to speak out against its use. Even this PSA featuring several top DJs (and tweeted by Sunshine himself) is more focused on using Molly responsibly than not at all.
You know, sort of the way beer companies love to say, ‘drink responsibly’.
(Update: since the publication of this article, the video has now been password-protected and locked.)
This is certainly something EDM companies, promoters, and executives are thinking about very seriously. Take Molly out of the picture and the scene might flatten; just as excessive monitoring, exclusion of minors, and preventative policing could kill the vibe. But, it would also kill less people.
The solution seems to be to manage the effects, not regulate its use. One tactical approach is to position as many ambulatory and medical units as possible at festivals, while carting OD’ing festival-goers to hospitals as quickly as possible. Live Nation, which recently invested $50 million in Insomniac Events, seems to be dispersing military-like medical units and equally well-trained PR responses.
And, downplaying outcomes like this…
“Everyone knows you take drugs at this rave. I want to prevent this from happening to other people. As long as these go on, people are going to get hurt.”
Testimony of Aisha Armen, who at age 19 suffered a massive convulsion, multi-organ failure, four strokes and entered a two-month coma after heavy MDMA use at EDC in 2009.
But here’s where this whole thing starts to get really dark and calculating. According to one EDM promoter (at a festival that will remain unnamed), an actual death is almost expected — but everyone makes sure that it happens outside the venue. “They don’t want anyone dying at the festival itself,” the promoter confidentially explained. “So they get them off as soon as they possibly can, and get them to a hospital.”