Written By: Lucille L., Communications & Social Media Intern, DanceSafe; Edited By: DanceSafe Staff
Festival season is kicking into high gear this month with events like EDC Las Vegas, Lightning in a Bottle, Movement, and others! Have fun and be safe this festival season with DanceSafe’s Top 15 Festival Tips.
1. The Buddy System
Travel with a friend. Always inform your friend(s) any potential substance(s) you have taken and how much so they can help you in the case of a difficult experience or emergency. Communicate if you are not feeling well or if you need a break. On the off-chance you do get lost, always have a meeting place that everyone in your group knows about so you can reconnect!
2. Chill Out and Take a Break
Dancing and exhausting your body for several hours can result in dehydration or heat exhaustion, with or without the use of substances. Be sure to take a break and cool-down regularly.
3. Hydrate and Replenish Electrolytes
Dehydration and heatstroke are real issues. Most medical emergencies are a direct result of dehydration and/or heatstroke. Drink a bottle of water per hour and supplement with sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Be careful not to drink too much as this can cause hyponatremia which can be just as dangerous.
Bonus Tip: Bring a large jug or camelback to refill and share water with your friends and others around you who may be in need.
4. Know Your Substance, Know Your Dose
If are interested in consuming a substance, it’s important that you do your research. First, use reliable resources such as DanceSafe and Erowid to learn more about the substance(s) in question so you can make informed decisions for yourself. If you do choose to consume, you can also utilize resources such as DanceSafe #TestIt Alerts and Ecstasydata.org to learn more about the potential contents of your substance. It’s also important to know how much you are consuming and manage potential re-dosing. Remember – “Less is more!” You can choose to consume more but you can’t choose to take less once you have already put a substance in your body.
5. Test It!
Take it one step further and test it! If you do choose to use a substance, it’s best to know what you are choosing to put in your body to prevent any unintentional risk. Results from DanceSafe’s drug checking program (2011- 2013), show that about half of all powders or pills that users indicated were “Molly” contained no MDMA at all. Furthermore, in New York in 2013, results from the DEA indicate that only 9% of all chemical analysis of “Molly” samples exhibit MDMA. For instructions on how to test and to pick up your own personal kit, visit our testing kit instructions and shop.
6. Be Cautious When Mixing Substances
Again, if you do choose to use a substance and choose to use multiple substances, be very careful with drug cocktails. When using several substances, the effects may multiply. Furthermore, when mixing substances, especially those with different effects on the central nervous system (i.e. depressant vs. stimulant), you increase your risk of unwanted health consequences or death. Subsequently, be cautious when mixing 2 or more depressants, as your heart and breathing may slow, and when mixing 2 or more stimulants, as your heart and breathing may rapidly increase.
7. Get Proper Sleep and Nutrition
This may be easier said than done, but remember – your body maintains homeostasis with the nutrients and vitamins it needs and a proper sleep schedule. We can still have fun without pushing our bodies too hard. Make sure to eat healthy meals and get appropriate sleep before and after the event. Make sure to eat well before and after the event. If the venue allows it, keep snacks on you for a quick bite between sets.
8. Protect Your Hearing
Sound levels at events can be as high as 115+ decibels, which can cause damage within a few seconds. The risk of hearing damage depends on: (1) How loud the music is; (2) How close you are to the speakers; (3) How long you are on the dance floor; and (4) Previous or a family history of hearing damage. Wear basic earplugs or, if you attend events regularly, invest in a reusable pair that do not distort the sound. Many foam earplugs protect against 32db, make sure you check the box. Learn more about hearing protection here!
Bonus Tip: Use high fidelity earplugs for music and foam earplugs to sleep!
9. If You’re Sexually Active, Come Prepared with Protection
If you are sexually active, come prepared with an option for birth control and/or protection from sexually transmitted infections. We all know we are more likely to engage in sexual activity when out with our friends in a relaxed and social environment. It’s not pretentious to come prepared; it’s responsible and pragmatic. Safe is sexy!
10. Know Your Rights!
With our current prohibition culture, it is inevitable that you will have to interact with law enforcement and/or security while traveling to/from or entering the event. Thus, it is important to know your rights and how to engage with and speak to law enforcement. For more information and strategies, check out The Festival Lawyer and Drug Policy Alliance.
11. Practice Safer Snorting
If you are going to be snorting anything, make sure to use a clean snorting device (aka NOT money). Don’t share snorting devices. This prevents the spread of diseases such as Hepatitis C. This could be as simple as taking a clean piece of paper and rolling it up.
12. Have A Sober Driver!
If you are going to be getting to and from the venue by car, make sure your driver is sober! Not just “come down enough” to drive. If this isn’t an option, use Uber or Lyft. Don’t let this happen to you!
13. Look Out For Others
If you see someone having a difficult time or who looks like they need help, ask them. If someone needs medical attention, help them to a medical professional/EMT. Difficult psychedelic experience? Take them to the Zendo Project or another psychedelic harm reduction group. Witness sexual harassment or assault? Take action!
14. Come Prepared
You never know when you’re going to need something, so always bring adequate supplies, but travel light. Fanny packs are great! Some good festival/rave essentials are:
- Portable phone charger
- Tissues/toilet paper (You never know if they’re going to run out!)
- Extra earplugs
- Sunscreen (if the venue allows it)
- Cash/ID/Credit card
- Foldable fan or empty spray bottle
15. Download a Picture of the Festival Map and Set Times to Your Phone
Since festivals/raves have so many people, the cell phone signal may be very delayed. It’s always good to have some resources downloaded in case you get lost. Also, send timestamps on texts!