March 25, 2011
“Unlike other youth events and other types of concerts, raves typically do not involve assault. Rave culture discourages aggressiveness. Raves are safer for young people, especially women, than conventional bars and clubs. Chief dangers at raves are heat, humidity, and loud music.”
Andre Korr, Health and Safety Officer of Save The Rave, and member of PLUR Alliance, was quoting directly from the US Department of Justice’s Guide to Local Police Departments on Rave Parties, based on studies in United States, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.
Save The Rave is an organization committed to the production of safe electronic dance music events (EDM) in San Francisco and beyond. On Tuesday night at City Hall, a very large bunch of ravers entered the building, somewhat soberly dressed, in order to voice their concerns and relate their positive experiences of EDM events and culture.
Public comment afforded many people, young and old, the chance to say how important EDM, rave culture and its values were to them. They spoke of acceptance, hope, and celebration of life. One young woman pleaded, “This is like my family. If you take this away from me, I don’t know where else to go.”
Nic Higuera, a local promoter with Geomagnetic, made an impassioned plea, “Give kids something to look forward to at the weekend other than homework. Please, please don’t take this away from us!”
People in the North Light Court were giving each other hugs. That’s the kind of people that go to raves. There was lots of positive energy, in “one of the most responsible presentations I’ve seen,” remarked a member of the Entertainment Commission.
Nowadays, any event that includes electronic dance music, or has ‘more than three and a half hours of pre-recorded music’ is considered a rave. The ravers that gathered on Tuesday night were there in force to peacefully and cogently reject Assemblywoman Fiona Ma’s proposed initiative to ban EDM events, or raves, from public buildings in California, and therefore San Francisco.
Liam Shy, a local DJ and one of the organizers of Save The Rave, stressed that the gathering was focused on keeping it positive, constructive, and helpful. According to Shy, Fiona Ma agreed to meet with representatives of Save The Rave, during which Ma agreed that current legislation was extremely flawed, and called for regular stakeholder meetings on the matter in order to come up with best practices.
Clearly the SFPD are concerned with safety, and they voiced their concerns in Tuesday’s meeting before public comment, but they have also expressed a willingness to work with all parties involved, including both the Youth Commission and the Entertainment Commission. One officer cited the regulations on crowd management training, calling for any event holding more than one-thousand people to have officials trained in crowd management techniques.
Shy concurred that safety was the foremost issue in this matter, but that there were also other city-related issues when it came to the SFPD and SFFD denying permits and shutting down parties. He suggested there might be a way to work with all organizations involved to ensure the safety of raves, and have them protected from shutdowns and permit refusals at the same time. Shutting down these sorts of events in San Francisco would also greatly harm the “Techno-tourism” scene in SF, so labeled by the New York Times.
This dovetailed neatly with Supervisor Scott Wiener’s resolution, also Tuesday, calling for such events to be protected in San Francisco. Initial responses from his fellow supervisors were said to be positive, but the motion will not be voted on until next Tuesday at the Supervisor’s Board Meeting.
Joseph Pred, owner and manager of Mutual Aid Response Services, and Chief of Public Safety for Burning Man, has been working in public safety since 1989, and began specializing in raves and ‘temporary mass gatherings’ in 1993. He has also served on the SF Entertainment Commission, holding the public health seat for two terms.
“In Europe,” said Pred, ‘this is seen as a Public Health issue, but in the USA, it is treated as a Law Enforcement issue. However, we as a community are on the brink of making the transition from a Law Enforcement issue to a Public Health issue… We should be creating safe alternatives for the youth to gather, rather than driving it into the underground where, likely, it will not be as safe.”
As to the issue of drugs at such events, anyone could tell you that substance abuse is a wider issue that will not be solved by shutting down these events, and in fact would be compounded by such an action.
Snihol Chidger, aka DJ Remix King, member of Mendo’s Organized Chaos, a group which is actively promoting and officiating safe rave events, remarked, “Kids will always find a way to party, or find a way to rave. I feel that it is the responsibility of the adult community to provide an official way for the youth to be able to have these types of events. If we don’t provide this, they will lose that safety aspect.”
George Davis, 65-year-old grandfather and dance enthusiast, made my favorite remark: “Our youth has a much greater obesity problem than my generation. We’re talking dancing – burning off 300-600 calories per hour. I don’t think we want to discourage dancing.”
Shy suggested that the chances of any real legislation against raves would be “unrealistic”, based on the responses, and also “unconstitutional”. He stressed that Save The Rave intended to keep working with the community to keep the issue alive and kicking. Or dancing.