“Work hard, play hard” is one of the most common mottos of Generation-Y. The increasingly popular EDM (Electric Dance Music) scene has fans saying, “Keep partying like it’s your job.” So, of course, by a generation who lives life to the extreme, we find ourselves misinterpreting the meaning of the true origin of such mottos. We have taken the positive message behind “work hard, play hard,” and skewed it with cultural terms of our generation like “YOLO,” which has taken on a negative connotation, as it has become a commonly used excuse for any poor behavior or choice.
I get it. We all love to have a good time. Many of us love to party. Some of us love to party extra hard. For Generation-Y, a good time generally involves some amount of alcohol and drugs. We get drunk, wasted, blacked out, banged up, high… Some of us have even overdosed. Of those that have, there are those who got lucky, recovered, and learned their lesson; those that got lucky, recovered, and didn't learn their lesson; and there's those who didn't get lucky and suffered a fatal overdose.
Our generation views this excessive partying as taking a full advantage of our days of youth. Partying like there is literally no tomorrow seems like the only way to party for many of us, as if we don't have our whole lives ahead to enjoy. Unfortunately, this over-the-top party culture has crept into high schools, college campuses, and as we've most recently witnessed, EDM festivals, where the presence of one particular drug has become eerily present: ecstasy.
People have forgotten the meaning of music and the purpose of music festivals. Music originated centuries ago, and although its evolution has spread wide and ranges across a variety of genres, it all falls under the same purpose: enjoyment. Music is created for listeners to free their minds of any worries or problems, to lose their selves in the words of their favorite songs, and, for a moment, to drift into a state of mind far away from reality.
Festivals give music fans the chance to share that incredibly euphoric experience with other people. Festivals provide you with hours of music to feel the chills and the goose bumps on your skin, while in the wake of a natural body rush as you're singing at the top of your lungs to your favorite songs, along with 300,000 people. 300,000 people who are all sharing the same moment, becoming one. Music festivals are a surreal experience. Once you're in that state of serenity, happiness and gratitude, you realize that it’s a moment you will never forget.
This is the type of experience – the type of high – one should seek while enjoying music. No drugs – no ecstasy, no X, no special K, no molly – necessary. Nothing needed but you and the music. The music is a drug in and of itself. Unfortunately, those who don't know the true value of a melody, or of a lyric, or of a beat, are unable to feel the natural high of music. It's these people who willingly choose other drugs to influence their experience, or to help them feel good and “have a better time.”
Mass festivals are organized to gather large crowds passionate about a set of DJs or performers, which fall under the same genre. Just like a regular concert of only one musician, people attend to enjoy themselves. However, we've never heard about concertgoers overdosing at Beyonce’s show at Barclay's, or at Justin Timberlake’s surprise concert in Hoboken. The slight difference between attending any regular concerting and attending an EDM festival is that a festival hosts a variety of performers. DJs don’t miss out on any chance to play their sets for larger audiences that enjoy the EDM genre and to get their music heard.
Festivals like Electric Zoo in New York City are growing in attendance numbers every year. For example, Ultra in Miami is becoming more and more popular and selling out more quickly as each year passes. This is a result of word spreading and talk of the amazing experiences people have. Social media aids in sharing the appealing visuals, energetic music, amazing mass-produced videos of the world renowned DJs that incorporate beautiful light shows, fireworks, confetti and themed events.
Just a couple years ago, I was one of those people seeking an EDM festival adventure to join in on the fun for myself. I can personally attest to experiencing that natural body high without the influence of any substance. I found myself dancing for three full consecutive days of ULTRA, sober. Music gave me an adrenaline rush and the energy to wave my hands and dance my ass off to my favorite sets. I was in my happiest place.
However, watching the people around me, who were so obviously under the influence of some drug, really had me taken back. I watched the disturbing scenes of young kids, who made me question their very presence and age, doing everything possible in order to get to a higher state of mind.
I believe that EDM festivals attract the wrong type of people. Anything mainstream in this world, people are urged to indulge in. Everyone wants to be 'cool,' and if it means popping molly because it’s culturally popular and everyone around you is doing it, then why not, right?
No. The fact that most people attending EDM festivals are still young people, who aren't mature enough to comprehend the serious risks associated with such drug use, is the main reason for multiple overdoses and fatalities.
Discover DJs and other musicians that take you to your happy place, and simply embrace it. Enjoy it. Gather a circle of friends with whom you are able to share the amazing memories that will result. Drugs are never a necessity nor are they the answer to your problems.
If people don’t learn from the recent events at Electric Zoo 2013, and the resulting cancellation, the EDM culture in the U.S. will soon die out because of our generation's lack of responsibility and utter disregard for our health. If in any case you decide to choose drugs, think of your loved ones and people around you. Enjoy the company of people and the sounds of the music without being under the influence. We are all in this together.
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