Before the end of the second day of Electric Zoo two were dead after using MDMA, four others were hospitalized, a 16-year-old girl had been sexually assaulted, and 31 festival-goers had been arrested for offenses including “drug sales, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and possession of controlled substances.”
Just after 6 a.m. on what would have been the third and final day of the electronic music festival on Randall’s Island, organizers announced the rest of Electric Zoo was called off.
City officials recommended the festival’s organizers cancel the last day “due to serious health risks.”
According to the Times‘ report, “It remained unclear whether Electric Zoo, which was in its fifth year and had become a major attraction for electronic dance music fans, would return next year.”
Ravers were furious that Bloomberg, not content going after their Big Gulps, was shutting down their festivals, too.
They shouldn’t waste energy getting worked up about it though–if E Zoo is canceled next year, chances are it won’t be gone for long.
On Sunday, the mayor’s office issued a statement explaining why the city urged organizers to cancel. “Electric Zoo organizers have worked with city officials to reduce health risks at this event, but in view of these occurrences, the safest course is to cancel the remaining day of the event.”
There is little evidence to suggest that the health risks were any greater at the festival this year than in any of the four prior years, or than at any other EDM festival in the last five years.
There were similar drug-related deaths at the Electric Daisy Carnival when it was held at USC’s Coliseum in Los Angeles, and at Pop 2010 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Both of these events’ venues, like Randall’s Island where Electric Zoo was held, were owned by the local government. What happened in those cases offers an idea of what might be next for Electric Zoo.
When one died and nine were hospitalized at Pop 2010, outraged officials called for a ban on raves at the Cow Palace. Two years later, though, the event was back: Pop 2012 was held at a different arena jointly owned by city and county governments: Oracle Arena in Oakland.
The same thing is on track to happen in L.A.–Electric Daisy Carnival has not been held in Los Angeles since 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez overdosed on ecstasy at the festival in 2010. But in June, L.A.’s newly elected mayor, Eric Garcetti, said he supported bringing raves back to the L.A. Coliseum.
Asked during a Reddit AMA whether as mayor he would welcome music festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival back to L.A. Coliseum, Garcetti answered, “YES! I want some signature festivals here in LA, the music capital of the world.”
Bloomberg’s press secretary, asked whether this weekend’s deaths would affect future festivals, echoed that sentiment. “From Simon and Garfunkel to the Black Eyed Peas, concerts in parks and public spaces have been part of the fabric of New York City for decades,” Marc LaVorgna told the Times. He added, “We are examining what occurred at this weekend’s event.”
E Zoo will be back–because festivals like that bring in too much money to resist.
Correction: We originally attributed a quote to Eric Garcetti that was made by another user during the L.A. mayor’s Reddit AMA. This post has been updated to reflect the correct quote by Garcetti.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 3, 2013