DanceSafe Newsletter – Year in Review and New Beginnings!

DanceSafe Newsletter – Year in Review and New Beginnings!

Welcome to the the brand new incarnation of the DanceSafe Newsletter! It’s been many years since we published one, and many of you out there may be receiving this for the first time. Our newsletter comes out monthly and covers current events related to the electronic music community, harm reduction and drug policy reform. There are exciting new things happening in our organization, and in the community as a whole. We look forward to keeping you posted on new developments!

Electronic Music Goes Mainstream

It’s 2014 and the state of popular music is currently Electronic Dance Music (“EDM”). Moving out of 2011 and 2012, “the year of the DJ” and “the year EDM took America,” we can safely say that EDM is now the music of a generation. The genre of music that has been universally popular outside of the US for decades has become mainstream American culture. In fact, globally, the electronic music community is the fastest growing youth culture. The genre integrates and has been integrated into all types of music from Miley to Madonna, from Kanye to Korn. It reaches far and wide, and there are numbers to back it up, with large-scale EDM-centered festivals and events clocking in hundreds of thousands of fans each year. There are many reasons why EDM has become so popular, but one of the most important is the acceptance that the community offers so many youth; a place to find one’s self and a place to call home.

EDM has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and with growth also come challenges. Like many youth cultures, drug use is a part of the community and it’s safe to say that today’s “at risk” youth for drug use are attendees of these events.

Electric Zoo – Tragedy and a Silver Lining

In the aftermath of the deaths at Electric Zoo, the mainstream media approached the topic of drug use and the electronic music community with a focus on education. People are searching for answers and seeking unbiased and experienced experts to answer their questions. In this way, attention was drawn to positive and pragmatic approaches to drug use among youth. Our approach of harm reduction and peer education was highlighted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Billboard, Rolling Stone, VICE, on ABC’s Katie Couric Show, among others. For media outlets not embracing education and harm reduction, we became a positive push back against the sensationalism and misrepresentations of drug use.

TomorrowWorld – Positive Signs for the Future

DanceSafe had a major presence at TomorrowWorld 2013

DanceSafe had a major presence at TomorrowWorld 2013

While our counterparts in Europe have integrated education and harm reduction into the electronic music community for many years, 2013 saw the first major US festival to not only invite us, but to integrate us into the event. The precedent set by TomorrowWorld Festival and the media’s focus on education gave other US promoters the incentive to reach out to us, giving us more momentum and credibility. Our participation at TomorrowWorld was the largest, most structured and organized integration of harm reduction in United States history. Event organizers made DanceSafe a part of the festival’s structure because, despite “zero tolerance” drug policies, they recognized and understood the need to start having conversations about drug use, health, and safety. No more turning a blind eye!

8th International Club Health Conference on Nightlife, Substance Use, and Health-Related Issues

For the first time in history, the International Club Health Conference was held in North America. DanceSafe received grants through The Centre for Public Health at John Moore’s University (Liverpool, UK) and through our partners at The Drug Policy Alliance to host the event in San Francisco, CA in May 2013. The conference aimed to build capacity and capability among all groups that have a stake in healthy nightlife – from the public health and government agencies that regulate it, to the club owners, festival organizers and promoters that make it happen, to the participants without whom it would not exist. This gave us an opportunity to build a greater global network with our European and South American counterparts to focus on the following objectives:

  • Innovative harm reduction approaches to alcohol, tobacco and other drug use
  • Best practices in planning and managing large scale events
  • Promoting safe and healthy nightlife environments
  • Preventing violence and anti-social behavior
  • Economic impact of nightlife
  • Building local, national and global partnerships for healthy nightlife

DanceSafe Wins Drug Education Award at DPA Conference

DanceSafe Executive Director, Missi Wooldridge, and founder Emanuel Sferios pose with the Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education, awared by the Drug Policy Alliance

DanceSafe Executive Director, Missi Wooldridge, and founder Emanuel Sferios pose with the Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education

Coming off of a hugely successful weekend at TomorrowWorld and a successful Club Health conference, we then played a major role in the Drug Policy Alliance’s 2013 International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Denver, Colorado. The conference provided opportunities to discuss harm reduction in nightlife settings and strengthen our alliances in the music industry and drug policy reform communities. To top off the stellar weekend, we were awarded the Dr. Andrew Weil Award for Achievement in the Field of Drug Education. This prestigious award acknowledged DanceSafe’s reputable credibility in providing honest, fact-based drug education to today’s youth. 

Structural Changes and Future Plans

The end of 2013 also brought structural changes for us, as Missi Wooldridge, MPH, was appointed our new Executive Director. We also welcome four new board members: Dina Perrone, PhD, Kim Gregory, EMT-P, Brian Gilbert, and Brooke Gilbert. With new leadership and momentum we are now looking ahead to 2014 and a full year of outreach and expansion. We are excited at the launch our brand new website (you’re looking at it) and a number of upcoming fundraising campaigns, where we will be working closely with many festival organizers, promoters, and artists. And check back in a few weeks to see our awesome new IndieGoGo crowd-funding video (it’s almost done). Stay safe everyone and see you out there!

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