Let's Take Back Our Community: Challenging Drug Use in Dance Music [OP-ED]

Last week I witnessed a girl have a seizure in the middle of a concert. I’m not a doctor, but I saw her on the floor, out cold and shaking.


I have no idea who she is or if she’s okay or why she had a seizure, but given the circumstances everyone around her assumed she overdosed. Why did they come to that assumption?

Hypothetically, if you were in a supermarket and you saw some lady fall to the ground and start convulsing, what would you assume? Grocery shopping seems pretty innocent. Maybe she has a medical condition? In both situations we are unaware of the cause for the seizure, but the setting itself forms our conclusions.

EDM has developed a reputation as a safe haven for drug use, and that stigma affects the reputations of people who go to festivals. In a world filled with judgmental eyes, “Anyone who goes to EDM shows probably does drugs.” And that claim is not far from the truth. There is a lot of drug use at music festivals.

Photo courtesy of Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Drugs are not going away. The US government has been trying to stop people from doing drugs for almost a century, but it has only made matters worse. Our middle school health teachers failed to tell us the real reason people use drugs: getting high is fun and it feels good.

But let’s not pretend like drugs are safe. Snorting cat tranquilizers is definitely not good for you, and eating tons of ecstasy pills is not healthy for your brain. Cocaine is horrible for your heart, and magic mushrooms are toxic and can scar your digestive system. Lots of drugs are dangerous and addictive. Unreliable. That’s why the stigma around drug use is so negative. That’s why most of society looks down on drug users. That’s why most people don’t do drugs. Less than 10% of Americans regularly use drugs recreationally. They’re bad for us.

There’s a million ways to justify drug use. People cite the medicinal properties of party drugs on patients with PTSD, the low number of people who actually experience the worst-case scenarios, and even the philosophy that free will gives us the ability to choose what we put in our bodies. But the reality is that there are zero benefits of recreational drug use.

Personally, I like to have a good time when I go to shows. I’m a regular at multiple venues around Atlanta and love to party and meet new people. I’m not sitting on my high horse thinking that anyone who smokes a spliff is going to Hell. Seriously. Other people’s drug use is none of my business. But…

I have never been so inebriated that somebody else had to take care of me. I hate when people offer me hard drugs; it is a temptation that I don’t want in my life. It freaks me out when I see the side effects of drug use eat away at a person’s face and body and soul. The reality of drug use is that it usually doesn’t completely ruin someone’s life. Most of the time it stops them from achieving their highest potential, because an innocence once lost is lost forever. You’ll never be able to go back to not knowing what drugs feel like.

As a fan of electronic music, other people’s drug use does affect my reputation. After all, you are the company you keep. Guilty by association. I go to shows because I love the music and the feeling of a fat sub bass vibrating my rib cage. If you’re going to do drugs at a show, please be smart about it and please keep it to yourself. I want young people to be able to go to shows without feeling like the “cool people” are the ones who can do the most drugs without getting sloppy.

Let’s clean up our scene. Let’s keep the Feds away from our music venues. Let’s sever ties with toxic people who push bad product. Let’s give electronic music a good name. Let’s spread the true values of love and acceptance and self-respect that this scene should be known for. Let’s go to festivals and concerts for the love of great music. Let’s show the world that EDM is more than just an excuse to get high. Let’s help each other grow.

Let’s Grow.