A change is on the horizon for Canadian music festivals and Digital Dreams is getting the ball rolling. This year, Toronto's world-renowned festival is partnering with local party health organization TRIP! Project to educate partygoers on proper health and safety practices at music events—starting with Digital Dreams.
The campaign, launched today on Digital Dreams' website, is a four-part run down on the safest ways to go to, be at, and leave their event on Canada Day weekend. "The campaign is about partying safe and it's not just around drugs and alcohol," says Mark Russell, the project manager for Live Nation. "It's a well-rounded approach to attending our events and making sure you get the most out of them while being safe."
After last year's tragedy at VELD in Toronto and the plethora of other incidents across North America, the need to provide factual health information to music fans, new and old, is huge. Digital Dreams recognizes that although their campaign's precedent is based on electronic music-based events, these tips aren't exclusive to any one thing. "As a producer of electronic music events, we have an opportunity to change the way not only how tour events are done, but how all events are done in the future. It's our opportunity to grab hold of it and really change the culture around large-scale events. Not just electronic, but everything."
The recommendations range from buddy systems and earplugs to post-festival hook-ups and legal consent. Similar to our THUMP Raving Safely Guide, sun-safety and hydration are two of their most important reminders. "A big issue for us is the sun and the heat and people not hydrating. While it's easy for someone to say, 'Oh that person looks sick and they've had too much of something,' a lot of the time they just haven't had enough water, enough shade, something to eat, or they haven't stopped dancing," furthers Russell. "It's more about everything that partygoers are doing at the festival—how they're dressing, who they're going with, and their attitude about it."
TRIP! Project, whose grassroots initiative in 1995 has soared to the top of Canada's party safety organizations, is no stranger to Digital Dreams. The organization is on site regularly at Live Nation events and are well aware of the crowd they cater to. "Before this new wave of festival popularity, the attendees were mostly people bringing friends to events that they themselves had been going to for years. Whereas now, it's literally 30,000 people, most of whom have never been to a festival before or have very little experience," says Lori Kufner, TRIP's project coordinator, in an earlier conversation with THUMP.
"No one has intentions of meeting new people, it's more about going and sticking with your crew. So that knowledge sharing that was once there, isn't happening as much anymore. That's why it's important for us to educate."
Just as music culture and communities have modernized—for better or for worse—so should the way harm reduction and safety is approached. Years of hailing sobriety and abstinence as righteous are long behind us, and Digital Dreams and TRIP! Project are quickly becoming Toronto's forerunners in making festival health and safety look, well, cool. "We want to make this campaign palatable. This message isn't always delivered in the right way, so it's important for us to make sure that we're delivering the message in way that people are going to uptake and use," explains Mark. "It's one thing to say something, it's another thing to speak and have a conversation with people, and that's really what we're aiming for now."
Keep an eye on Digital Dreams' Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more of their Health and Safety campaign with TRIP! Project. And stop by the TRIP! Project booth on-site on Canada Day weekend when Digital Dreams takes The Flats at Ontario Place.
Rachael is a mini-harm reduction dictionary, herself, and is on Twitter.