That music gala — especially electronic music dance (EDM) festivals — are often associated with abundant drug abuse is nothing new. In recent times, if raves have grown more popular among youth, so has the drug culture among these attending these gigs.
The deaths of three tourists at the recent Sunburn festival in Goa are widely being seen as the latest example of a direct link between EDM festivals and alleged use of illegal substances. The event has come under constant scrutiny after these deaths. Many have speculated drug overdose as the reason, although the real cause of the deaths is still to be officially ascertained.
Nevertheless, the incident has raised questions, throwing light on the increasing use of drugs by people at such big festivals.
Clive (name changed), who was at Sunburn this year, says that even if one were to assume that the deaths happened owing to drugs consumed during the fest, it does not necessarily mean these drugs were smuggled inside the venue.
“The reason for death can be an overdose, but two out of the three men died outside the venue and not inside. Before entering the venue, people consume various things to get a kick while watching the show. About the third person, I don’t know if he has consumed drugs. We can’t say for sure it was drugs, because he was shifted to the hospital after the event was over and he died the next day,” Clive told IANS, adding that “security arrangements at the fest were really tight”.
Which is where, however, Clive’s next observation stumps you. He did spot people having drugs inside the menu, despite the heavy checking.
“When I was entering the venue they thoroughly checked me. However, I discovered many people were smoking weed inside the venue. They might have put smuggled a few sticks inside cigarette packets. However, I did not see anyone snorting coke. The police were around with trained sniffer dogs,” he said.
There were others who recount a far less pleasant experience. Ronaldo, who flew to Goa from Delhi to attend the festival, said: “I had a very bad experience. There was a lot of security but I still saw people consuming illegal substances — some of them carried the drugs in their undergarments or their socks.”
IGP Jaspal Singh of Goa Police would insist there’s always a massive police arrangement at such venues.
“There was a huge police force outside as well as inside the venue. Inside, there was a police force of anti-narcotic cell with well-trained dog squads. There was Raman spectrometer, which tests the drug in real-time. The device gives you an indication that the material is narcotic or not. There was zero availability of drugs inside the venue because the police controlled everything,” Singh claimed.
However, he acknowledged there are some drugs that can be concealed easily.
“There are drugs that can be taken to the venue easily. People can attach them to a currency note. These are like blotting paper, and then it becomes a challenge for us. This time, we had a lot of meetings with the organisers and tried our best to provide 100 per cent security. Still, we regret the loss of three lives. The cause of the deaths is not confirmed yet,” Singh explained.
Amidst all the fuss, international DJ Luciano, who was at the fest this year and who is himself a reformed drug victim, urged people to get rid of such addiction.
“Drugs are impure. I know it’s easy to say this but one must realise the value of self-discretion when it comes to the use of drugs, rather than blame it on the authorities. I discovered something as pure as music can help me come out of it much faster,” he said.
Indian DJ Bose detests from the fact that EDM has become synonymous with drugs.
“There’s a myth attached to EDM. Some people think EDM is all about drugs, but it actually depends on the person. I don’t take drugs and I don’t expect that my audience has to take drugs to listen to my music. We should value the art of EDM,” Bose, whose original name is Shiladitya Bose, concluded.