After just one day of serving as one of Electric Forest’s “craft vendors,” DanceSafe was shut down early Friday for reasons that still remain beyond their understanding. DanceSafe is a non-profit public health organization that uses harm reduction and peer-based education to encourage safe choices within the nightlife and electronic music spheres. From providing vital information pertaining to safe drug use to handing out water or condoms, DanceSafe’s mission is to afford individuals fact-based knowledge on drugs and their potential harms.
Setting up for its fourth year as a vendor at Electric Forest, the organization was prepared to take on a much larger crowd than in recent years. On the festival’s opening day, DanceSafe was asked to stop conducting free, onsite testing and selling kits, in addition to handing out clean snorting straws and informational cards on Heroin. Citing these items as “too promotional,” a representative from Madison House Presents felt that DanceSafe’s impact would be more positively received by withholding such products and information from attendees.
The following day, the same Madison House representative, along with two other festival officials, asked Mitchell Gomez (National Outreach Director at DanceSafe) to shut down his booth immediately. No further explanation as to why DanceSafe was forced to leave Electric Forest early was given.
With upwards of an additional 10,000 people and “no noticeable increase in the amount of water refill stations,” was Madison House’s decision to remove DanceSafe from the festival grounds appropriate? While many have pointed fingers at the organization for ‘allowing’ or ‘encouraging’ drug use, the truth is, embracing their presence at festivals and other events does not promote abuse — rather, DanceSafe leaves its mark by allowing potential users to ask important questions and talk about drugs in an open and safe environment — thus significantly lowering the chances of illness or or potential fatalities.