The HARD Truth
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Politics and Activism

The HARD Truth

A dark side of HARD Summer Music Festival.

The HARD Truth

With every abrupt tragedy it is unclear where to put the blame. Fingers are being pointed in many different directions, and it is difficult to know just whose fault it is that two young women died at HARD Summer Music Festival Aug. 1. The blame could be a shared responsibility, but it is important to pay attention to the different areas blame could be placed. A quick Google search will return with local and national news articles about the investigations going on regarding the death of two California girls, aged 18 and 19 years old. Writing this article, I feel unqualified as I did not know these girls and am not an official, but rather than just looking back at the fun times that people had at HARD, I want to focus on the darker side of raves and music festivals that aren’t always talked about among the college age music lovers. This is about my opinion of the events and other things I am concerned about for the safety of my friends and peers.

The topic of drug-related deaths involved in the EDM scene is nothing new. The use of ecstasy and other party drugs at these types of events has become common knowledge since the 1990s. When these deaths occur, it is hard to point the blame on the victims, as they did not intend to kill themselves, but they most likely voluntarily took a drug with an unknown composition. Instead, like in the recent deaths and the others from the past few years, the blame is being put on the venue or event company itself. To a certain extent, this is a good thing. I myself attended day one of last week's music festival, but ended up selling my ticket for day two as I was not interested in going back. The security was inconsistent between the people in front of me and those behind. None of the people I was with were checked with the same techniques. With 65,000 people coming inside an event like this, security scans through quickly and things slip past them. And this is the truth, as I saw several prohibited items inside the event, like bottles of alcohol and selfie sticks. Although one could say if people want to bring illegal or prohibited items in these events that they will find a way, the safety protocol could be improved dramatically to prevent inconsistencies that have allowed these prohibited and illegal items in.

In 90 degree heat for a 12-hour day, this event full of 65,000 attendees did not have enough shade, water or first aid. One would assume at a large event that the first aid would be clearly marked and numbered to meet the demand of people. I myself did not take notice of a single first aid booth, and there were only three free water stations that were constantly being bombarded. One of them even broke down for a while. From what I have heard about other events like this, of even larger proportions, there are clearly labeled first aid stations available. This is something that I think needed to be done at the HARD festival. I also would like to think that these deaths may have been prevented if these stations were available, or if shade and water were more accessible. Maybe not these deaths but others in the past.

It is unacceptable that these two girls were found unconcious. One girl went into cardiac arrest, and the other had a seizure. These are abrupt symptoms, but during events like this the crowds are so dense and the music doesn’t stop and lights don’t go on, so in a crowded, hot and dark space, it is extremely difficult to get help quickly to victims when needed. If there was more proactive safety and security in the crowds then perhaps they could have been helped sooner.

In regards to other deaths or health problems like dehydration or heat stroke, which are common at these events, be there and look out for your friends. Word for the wise: If your friend is acting strange, take them for help immediately whether they took an illegal substance or not. A life is more important than getting in trouble, and you may not learn that until it is too late. It is also more important than one fun day or night listening to music and partying. It is tragedies like these that turn me away from attending events like this. It doesn’t put a good taste in my mouth knowing people have died or can die for the sake of fun, and it is not something I want to be around.

Forgive me if I am ranting. This topic just gets me a bit heated. Another issue I want to discuss is the drugs to begin with. The access to these drugs seems to be as easy as getting someone to buy you alcohol when you are underage. I think rather than preventing the drugs from entering the events, they should be preventing the drugs from being sold to begin with. The news and the authorities seem to be caught up with preventing the sale of marijuana and you hear more about busts regarding this drug, which is not even illegal across the board, whereas the drugs that too many teens have been dying under the influence of are still out there and are being sold and consumed by uneducated young adults. It is the consumer's fault for buying these drugs and partaking in them at their own risk as well.

I strongly think that prevention of the production and distribution of these drugs is more of a concern to me than them getting inside of an event. Our society likes to put the blame on the end result, but they seem to forget to go back to the beginning of the issues. The headlines should not be reading “festival bans in LA county”; they should be about the DEA and government officials cracking down even harder on drug dealers selling these drugs that are snuck into the events. Don’t blame security for missing something when they weren’t the ones who made or sold the drugs that two teens died at the hands of.

As much as I like the music, I also think that the musicians and DJs who are a part of this culture and have a strong association to drug use should be using their influence to prevent the use of these illegal drugs, not encouraging them to be under the influence of them. Musicians are role models for the fans, and if they are aware that people are dying at their concerts and are consuming these drugs to enjoy their music, then they should be speaking out against it. I do not think they will because they themselves support the culture of drug use and crime, or at least their actions and music makes it seem that way. If you don’t believe me, just listen to the music for yourself. For all of the readers who love to rave and disagree with what I have to say, I suggest you re-evaluate why it is that you enjoy these festivals and the music you listen to to make sure that you are a part of this culture for the right reasons and not the wrong ones that are life threatening and illegal. Have fun and live your life, but be smart about your choices. YOLO shouldn't be an excuse to make rash decisions, but instead should be a reminder that life is precious and not something to play games with. Don’t go too hard, or you might not get to go to another HARD again.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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