By: Tora Matys
The City of Edmonton has a history of reactionary bans, but raves have received significant attention from the council in 2018.
Earlier this month, six people were sent to hospital in critical condition after attending Soundwave, a Electronic Dance Music (EDM) event advertised as “the wildest indoor beach party.”
NAIT CAB member and DJ, Patrick Cunningham, suggested the reason why there were so many hospitalizations for such a small event (attendance wise) was because Soundwave was marketed as a party, and not a music festival. This attracts a completely different crowd of people than when events are focused and marketed around the music being played, he said.
The event reignited the City of Edmonton’s conversation on whether to outright ban raves or not.
In May of this year, the city proposed a complete ban on EDM parties in response to an increase in medical costs, hospital traffic, drug-related deaths and in sexual assault cases.
On its website, the city classifies raves as “a generic term that describes after-hours club parties, electronic music shows and electronic dance parties that feature fast-paced electronic music and light shows.”
In June, the city called a meeting to discuss the cause-and-effect of the potential ban. After a long deliberation, they decided to not go through with the banning out of fear of pushing raves underground and making the problem worse. Instead, placing a hold on any large EDM raves events in the city over the summer.
Boodang Outdoor Music Festival in August was the first party to break the hold and test out some of the city’s newly-implemented “harm-reduction” strategies. The festival had increased security, medical staff on-sight, and “sanctuaries,” which is something new to these events.
The sanctuaries are a tent or isolated booth with medical staff to allow party goers to get away from the event for a moment. The tents offer free water, a quiet place, and medical staff trained to help drug users “come down.”
The entire rave community held their breath, as the event was a determining factor whether raves would be banned or not. There were no deaths and no one was hospitalized – the event went as planned.
After the events at Soundwave, the city has been forced to reconsider the prohibition and their current harm-reduction policies.
The city banned all combative sports earlier this year in response to the death of boxer Tim Hague. The ban was eventually lifted after the boxing, MMA and wrestling communities voiced their concerns and made amendments to their rules and regulations.
In the meantime, while ravers await the city’s decision, Christine Bannerman, supervisor for NAIT Health Services, would like to remind people that the best form of harm-reduction is yourself.
If you choose to use, never accept drugs or open drinks from strangers and make sure you drink a ton of water; a leading cause of overdoses is overheating and dehydration.