As the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) drew to a close and as reviews of the parties were starting to surface, ADE 2014 was overshadowed by the unfortunate news of four total deaths during the event. According to Dutch police, a 21 year old Dutch man, a 33 year old Serbian Man, a 41 year old woman from Utretch and Felix Hines, the 41 year old head of publishing at Phoenix Music International have all died after attending ADE events on October 18th and 19th. These are the first deaths during ADE’s annual conference since the first event was held in 1996.
Amsterdam Dance Event Organization had this response to the tragedies:
“We are in close contact with all of the venues, municipalities and emergency services that are part of the ADE and every precaution is taken to ensure the safety and security of the audience at all participating venues. Each venue has a strict door policy and a comprehensive inspection is completed at every venue entrance. Drug use is not tolerated in any way and ADE and its partners make every effort to ensure that people are behaving responsibly at the event. Ultimately there is a limit to what we can do and individuals must take responsibility for their own actions. Our thoughts are with the families and friends at this time and we would like to express our deepest sympathy to them.”
While I believe the ADE organization and their commitment to hosting an incredible yearly event, clearly more can be done to ensure party goers are in fact as safe as possible. If some reports are true that club patrons did not have access to water and in some instances access to the restroom, then more can be done. It is up to each club and owner to make sure the club patrons are enjoying themselves in a safe environment. If ADE is in close contact making sure each club is in fact safe then they should make sure water is available and everyone has access to adequate facilities if the club is hosting an ADE event, it’s that simple.
This does not take away personal responsibility and the fact that a bad batch of drugs itself could be the actual cause of death for the unfortunate few pending their autopsies, Felix Hines is the only death where drugs have not been suspected. We are ultimately responsible for ourselves when choosing to put any unknown substance in our bodies.
As the ensuing debate begins, being able to test the substances people are taking at these events would be one way to manage the risk involved. Even some Dutch politicians have called for a realistic approach to the solution. Parliamentarian Vera Bergkemp was quoted on BBC Radio 1 news, stating, “People use drugs at festivals so we need to present a realistic picture with more emphasis on prevention and health.”
I could not agree more.