In the wake of recent deaths linked to electronic dance music events, attendees at Baltimore's first Moonrise Festival said the shows themselves should not be made a scapegoat.
Police and fire officials reported no major incidents Saturday at the Moonrise Festival, and event organizers said Sunday they hoped for another smooth day.
"We're really happy with how everything turned out yesterday," promoter Evan Weinstein said. "We're hoping for another successful event today."
Last weekend, two people, ages 20 and 17, died of what police called suspected drug overdoses after attending the Mad Decent Block Party, which was held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Howard County. During the Columbia event – which is not affiliated with the Moonrise Festival — 20 others were hospitalized, and police said the hallucinogenic drug "Molly" was the most commonly used.
Those deaths and others across the country have brought attention to the role of drugs in the EDM scene, but some fans at Moonrise say safety comes down to personal responsibility.
"It's not the concerts' fault," said Stephanie Hansen, 20, who attended the festival at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday. If someone chooses to do drugs, she said, "you have to know what you're doing to your body."
At Moonrise, seven people were transported to the hospital as of Saturday evening, said city fire department spokesman Ian Brennan. He would not specify the nature of the medical emergencies, but said heat-related injuries are typical for similar events where people are outdoors in the sun.
"There's nothing that's unusual or unexpected for a festival of this size," Brennan said. "It's just a run-of-the-mill, large public event at this point."
On Saturday afternoon, first-aid tents were staffed and security officers had a strong presence at Pimlico's entrance. Crowds of concert-goers filled bottles at a free water station to prevent dehydration as others danced to the bass-thumping music, many dressed in bright colors and wearing stacks of the beaded bracelets that are popular at EDM events.
Police spokesman Det. Jeremy Silbert said early Saturday evening that the only arrest made was of one 19-year-old man facing drug charges.
Following the Merriweather deaths, local anti-drug advocate Mike Gimbel called for Moonrise to be canceled. But city officials said doing so would be "short-sighted" and concert organizers pledged that safety would be their first priority.
In New York City, people who want to attend the Electric Zoo festival later this month will have to watch an anti-drug drug video to be allowed in, after two people died at the event last year.
Hansen, a Temple University student, said drug education programs need to ensure that kids are learning about the dangers of today's popular substances. She said some EDM fans she has observed are young high school-aged concertgoers who try drugs "to be cool."
She and her friend David Michelin painted each others' faces before going into the show and said that for many, the fun is in the music.
"I love electronic music," said Michelin, an 18-year-old Drexel University student. "I'm so excited to [go] in there and dance right now."
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