Another Sad Day For The Dance Community
You’ve probably already heard the news. Three people have been confirmed dead after this weekend’s HARD Summer. Derek Lee (22) from SF, Alyssa Dominguez (21) from SD, and Roxanne Ngo (22) from Chino Hills. I’ve heard rumors of more, but let’s not focus on that. Three is already intolerable. That’s three separate families who’ve had to hear this horrible news. Three lives, gone. All day, I’ve heard nothing more than blame being uttered. When can we stop and show some sensitivity and respect? I was going to write an event review tonight, but I just couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head.
One of my friend’s friend was close to Roxanne, and another knew Alyssa. It becomes more than just a number when you realize how close to home death can strike. When it could have just as easily been your friend instead. I’m sad that I can’t offer more than my condolences for the friends and families of those who’ve gone off to a better place, and outraged that these deaths are still even occurring. The horrendous stories flooding in: “People were dropping like flies”, “I tried to do CPR and nothing was working” originated from attendees and staff alike.
While these deaths may reach headlines, stories of all the close encounters will subside quietly into nothingness. One friend of mine, had to sit his friend down because he started foaming at the mouth. Another almost passed out due to a mix of dehydration from standing in line, and anxiety from overcrowding. You definitely won’t be reading about them in the LA Times or your favorite DJ Blog.
Yes HARD really fucked up this time around. Poor planning and use of space caused significant bottle necking and back logged entrances and pathways. You have no idea how many people complained about waiting more than one to two hours just standing in line, without any covering or shade. How many others succumbed to the heat, or to drugs, without their close friends being there for them. Those that couldn’t afford to continuously purchase new water bottles, having to wait in another line just to refill their long ago emptied bottle. Having to actually leave the race track just to access another stage. The nightmare of all those leaving each night, from the parking lot. A lot of these issues could have been totally preventable with proper management and foresight. But it’s too late for that now for Derek, Alyssa, and Roxanne.
Maybe this will be the end for HARD, the lack of direction and organization is definately unacceptable when it’s an event of this magnitude, hosting over 70,000 people each day. Maybe it will be the end of the scene as we know it today. Or maybe not, maybe our scene will keep on thriving; and keep on trucking on as it has done so far. Regardless of the direct consequence of this event, today marks a critical junction in our dance music scene. No matter what decision may befall HARD as an organization, we must come together and act. To save the future of this culture of music and acceptance that we’ve all come to love and quite possibly take for granted. To save not only each other but quite possibly ourselves as well.
Let’s face it. Ending these events in SoCal won’t put a stop to these senseless deaths. Undergrounds will pop up with no regulations at all, or the people will just move to another city, another state, or another country. If we’re to put a stop to it, we need to focus on the cause of the issue, it’s roots. Amidst the mass of people going nowadays just because it’s the “cool” thing to do, there are those of us who remember when “PLUR” wasn’t just an Instagram hashtag. Those of us who remember the feeling of what it was like to be a part of something bigger than yourself. To have random people you’ve never even met before in your life, care about you and your wellbeing. Who gave you smiles and treats and massages and light shows just because we were all there together. The love, where is the love nowadays?
To all of my friends and readers who are just deciding to go to raves and concerts now, just remember: I’m not dictating that you not do drugs. I’ve done my share. But you don’t need to be doing it solely for the purpose of “getting fucked up”. There will be other opportunities in the future, take it a little bit at a time. Watch out for your friends, and even for those others around you. The drugs will kick in, I promise you, but that feeling of unity, when you’re aware of the scale of grandeur that surrounds you; of understanding that you’re just a tiny speck of something amazing, that my friends is just a good a drug as any. You guys will be the future of this scene that I love, and I want to share it all with you. I don’t want to be reading your obituary in the morning news. Take charge of what is ours and define it. Don’t let “bros”, petty thieves, and any other ill-willed people take advantage of something that artists and attendees have spent decades building towards.
I’m not going into every aspect that defined “P.L.U.R.” for me, that’s for each individual to find out and explore for him/herself. But come on guys, lets wise up. Don’t repeat the follies of our past. If you’re organizing an event, don’t get so caught up in the logistics of the financial capital. If you’re attending one, don’t buy substances from strangers, and test the stuff you have if you’re unsure. It’s easy to look back and criticize the transgressions in 20/20. It’s a lot tougher when you encounter a difficult situation on the spot. Work together, respect each other. Things will all work out. Don’t push and shove like cattle while in line, or else we’ll get treated as such. It’s the small things guys, that you will remember once you’re older. Like taking the time to check on someone sitting by themselves, making room for someone to get a better view of the stage, or even just throwing out your wonderful smile to those around you. Your actions have an impact, so make them meaningful. Educate ourselves and others around us. You may just save a life someday.
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