INTERVIEW: The Electronic Music Alliance Shares Ways to Empower our CommunityMissi Wooldridge
May 22, 2014
DanceSafe:What is the Electronic Music Alliance (EMA), and why did you form the EMA?
Janine Jordan: We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit and global membership alliance of dance music fans, artists, and industry idealists. We encourage our community to be the “Sound of Change” by organizing around issues important to the community like health + safety, environmental practices, and giving back to our local communities through charitable works.
I formed EMA for a couple of reasons. I believe that dance music can change the world and I wanted to see our culture thrive.The people of our culture talk about peace, love, unity, and respect aka PLUR. They come into our events and often feel a kind of love that makes them, feel connected to each other and develop strong bonds and passions. They are not just parties to us. They are sacred spaces that have the power to transform us. We can dance away our troubles and feel renewed, free, and connected to other people in a way we never felt before. It sounds heady if you have not experienced this but it’s just a reality of our scene. Maybe some people that are just going to clubs might not necessarily use the same language I just have about our culture but I believe we are all affected in the same way and that’s why we keep coming back and wanting more and that’s why our culture is exploding. Our culture gives people a reason to live. It is not just entertaining, it’s reciprocal. We show up and get a good show and we go home with love.
Our planet has a lot of struggles (climate change, war, slavery, treatment of women, children, and animals) and needs a lot of love.I believe we are a people that can help solve these problems and give that love. We can share what we are experiencing on the dancefloor if we had outlets beyond the party … which is EMA reason 1. Build a philanthropic infrastructure for our community now and for our community of the future so we can share our love and save the world. EMA reason 2. I wanted to see our culture thrive. To thrive, you must first survive, I believe we are an important culture worth protecting because we are cultivating that “world-saving” or at least “world-changing” love and connection. Our cultural history so far has been riddled with negative media coverage which has often led to the discrimination of our events. To thrive our culture must be welcome in cities and welcomed by society. To be welcome, we have to prove that we are good citizens … that we are responsible and that we are not just about partying, that we give back to our local communities.However, part of responsibility is about safety. We have to prove that we are doing the best we can to keep our community safe because we are an extension of our larger communities.
The alliance is different players coming together so we do not re-create the wheel. We have recently formed a coalition with DanceSafe and other harm reduction non-profit partners to discuss, collaborate, and take action to ensure we do our best to protect our community and culture. Collaborating catalyzes change.
DanceSafe: Why do you think the electronic music community needs DanceSafe?
Janine Jordan: DanceSafe is THE leader in harm reduction services for the dance music community. DanceSafe helps our community be more responsible.
Since DanceSafe has been around for over 15 years, they are a household name for being an educational resource for drug and safety information. We have a duty to protect the communities we are involved in. I also believe we, as individuals, have a right to know information that could save our lives. Drug use is a cultural issue not an EDM issue and it’s one that has never been solved.
People have been trying to alter their consciousness since the beginning of consciousness. Drug use, then, is a reality we need to deal with in society and in our communities. We need to talk about it, we need to educate ourselves about, and we deserve to have those resources readily available to us in moments when we might be making choices that could impact our lives. In terms of our dance music community, DanceSafe’s mission is and has always been to be that safety information resource for us both online and on-site.
DanceSafe: What role do you see EDM industry playing in the harm reduction movement?
Janine Jordan: I think the industry will react if attendees make demands. The situation is sticky for them because of our current drug policy. Stefanie Jones of the Drug Policy Alliance wrote a great article about this.
I think if the attendees do things like signing the Party Pledge, supporting DanceSafe, and asking for harm reduction services of the events, or asking their favorite artists to speak up, I think the industry will respond. The truth though is that the attendees need to know we what really needs to change is public policy and they are empowered to help change that. If public policy changed, then I have no doubt that DanceSafe would have to hire more people because their phone would be blowing up, every event would want them there.
DanceSafe: How can artists use their influential voices to promote harm reduction and safety at their events?
Janine Jordan: There are of course many ways artists can use their influence to promote harm reduction, from subtle messaging practices to large campaigns. It just depends on the comfort level of the artist. Subtle would be just sharing on social media messages such as “Hey it’s going to be hot at the festival, read up on heatstroke from the Dancesafe site. I don’t want to see my fans going down”
I do feel like there should be an industry-wide training on how to promote harm reduction mildly. Everyone has a voice, everyone has a following. Obviously bigger acts might reach more and I think have more of a responsibility step up and become role models, but but EDM writers, go go dancers, publicists, club owners all have followings that could benefit from safety reminders.
I think what could be helpful actually is if the media were to #PlayitFWD and make the commitment to be a little more conscious about their influence when asking the artists questions. I get that not every artist might want to come off as preachy … so if our media could ask questions about the artists viewpoint on drug use, drug policy, event safety, harm reduction … we could really start to see some shift.
I think sometimes that artists and the media forget how influential they really are. People want to change the world or wonder how they can but then they forget that something as simple as just talking about their viewpoints, opinions, or sharing knowledge they have acquired could do just that. Everything in this life starts with our thoughts. Big pictures is we need a shift in public policy, and to do that we will have to start by changing the way we think and that starts with open discussion.
DanceSafe: What do you see as the biggest barrier to implementing harm reduction at large-scale events?
Janine Jordan: I think the barrier in the near future will just be the comfort level of the event producer and their legal team with bringing in an element that may infer, and implicate them in knowing illegal drug use is happening at their events which could make them liable for those activities. Bravo to Tomorroworld for being a major festival and taking a responsible stand by including DanceSafe.
I do feel that the event producers may feel like their hands are tied. Zero tolerance is something that the large event producers put on their website as a strategy to mitigate substances from coming into their parties. I think they feel sometimes that harm reduction services undermine that effort. I understand that, while our industry was growing, that was a practice for self-survival.
We are beyond that now. Our music is everywhere, we have crossed into the mainstream, and so we might have more responsibility than ever to keep people safe.
Our large scale events are pop up cities. We (the events) should act as a good party Mayors, and be prepared to take care of the people that fall within that jurisdiction (which is the party) regardless of what those people are doing and if those people are supposed to be doing it. Medical is not enough. Medical staff reacts to emergencies and attendees are scared to go there, whereas harm reduction services help prevent emergencies, and people feel more comfortable going there. Yin and Yang. Both are needed.
We can’t control people’s actions, everyone makes their own choices. The bigger the event, the more diluted a message like “drugs are not welcome here” might become and that is why on-site services are important.At this point, I think it only makes sense that we take care of our community with forward thinking, preventative strategies. Actually it’s not forward thinking, many other places in the world implement harm reduction and we need to catch up.
DanceSafe: Why do you think its important for attendees to advocate for harm reduction within our community?
Janine Jordan: Companies typically end up listening to their customers if there is enough … ask. If enough big companies change their behavior due to customer/fan demand, that could sway the entire industry … and in our case, drug or public health policy in general.
DanceSafe: How can people best support DanceSafe services in 2014?
Janine Jordan: Well there’s a few things:
1) I cannot stress enough that each and every person involved in our scene has a voice and is empowered to speak up. If you want DanceSafe at events, tell your favorite clubs, promoters, and events.
2) You can do that in a very simple way by signing the harm reduction coalition Party Pledge. If you sign it, once we get enough signatures, we will have proof that you do want these services and we can start to advocate to the industry on your behalf.
3) Share share share. Become a self-appointed ambassador and get information out. DanceSafe has created an amazing website full of information to keep our community safe. If you love your friends and all the people around you while you are at your events, keep them safe by sharing posts from the DanceSafe site.
4) If you are a person that has chosen to take certain substances that can be tested, buy test kits and test them! Buying test kits from DanceSafe helps you and helps them.
5) And of course, DONATE to DanceSafe’s IndieGoGo campaign because we need them to thrive! Their outreach and services depend on your support!
This is the last week to donate! << CLICK HERE TO VIEW DANCESAFE’S INDIEGOGO VIDEO AND CAMPAIGN! >>