Last week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn spoke out about the tragic events which occurred over Memorial Day Weekend at Sunset Music Festival, during which two students died and 57 others were hospitalized. He has condemned the festival, saying that if it were up to him, this will be Sunset’s final year at Raymond James Stadium.

“The [Tampa] Sports Authority, they need to look at whether that is an appropriate type of event for this community to host. . . The types of drugs that tend to be associated with those electronic dance music festivals obviously catastrophic results for people who make bad decisions.”

Reports say an ER nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which received 40 of the 57 patients, said that she witnessed “back-to-back dehydrated children, all on Molly.”

Buckhorn has ordered that the police and fire departments involved put together comprehensive reports on the events that transpired at the festival last weekend. The Tampa Bay Sports Authority is expected to release a statement this afternoon.

“You can’t necessarily assign blame, but clearly it is not an environment conducive to positive things happening. . .” Buckhorn said.

I want to talk alternatives. Shutting down EDM events will not save lives, there is always another party. You know what might? Free water and free drug testing.

Many believe that in addition to the drug use the sweltering Florida heat in the shade-less amphitheater played a massive role in the number of hospitalized partiers. While no one in the media seems to want to acknowledge the harsh subtropical weather as a factor to the injuries, it is important to remember that uppers (like Molly) severely dehydrate the body, which is why it is a necessity to stay hydrated if you’re going to choose to take them.

Sunset does offer free water stations to all who bring or purchase bottles within the stadium, and while that seems to have not helped the situation last weekend as much as we might have hoped, the most proactive thing the festival hosts can do is provide as many free fill-up stations as possible, and to provide free water at vendors when it’s requested. That’s step one.

Step Two: Drug testing. DanceSafe is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to the safety of festivalgoers who choose to indulge in illegal drugs, despite the risk. They have been a leading advocate for life-saving harm reduction in the EDM community since 1998. They provide free drug testing so that these kids know exactly what they’re taking, as well as a safe space to discuss drug use, health, and personal safety. They provide free water and electrolytes to prevent dehydration and heat stroke, which is severely exacerbated by dangerous drug use; they even provide free ear plugs to protect your ear drums. This is an organization dedicated to protecting the lives of young people, who unfortunately will do as they please.

The best way to fight these deaths is to keep people informed and give them the means to keep themselves healthy and safe. I urge the public to consider drug testing at festivals as an alternative to shutting them down all together out of fear. It will not save your son or daughter from the grips of PLUR culture, it will only take them to shows farther away and potentially even more dangerous without the presence of DanceSafe, or some other company dedicated to protecting young people. The best way to fight this is from the inside. Keep yourself and your friends informed, hydrated, and safe.

We can spread awareness about organizations like this as an alternative to shutting down events. Spread the word about organizations like DanceSafe and implementing drug testing and free water at festivals. We should not be trying to shut down festivals. We should be trying to make them safer.

Stay safe, and party on.

Performers Mentioned In This Article