By Stefanie Jones

It was the worst sort of déjà vu – hearing yesterday that Victoria Callahan, a 19 year old young woman celebrating her birthday at the Echostage venue in DC, died after being transported from the event.

Victoria’s death shares an eerie similarity with another tragedy two years ago. Shelley Goldsmith, also 19 and from Virginia, died after attending a show at Echostage.

When someone dies at an electronic music show, people immediately want to know: were they on drugs? Did they take molly?

As if that alone would somehow explain – or justify – these tragedies.

Shelley Goldsmith died of heatstroke. We have to ask: why would she have gotten so hot?

It’s so hard to avoid the knee-jerk, “Drugs!” that pops into mind. But we have to keep the bigger picture in focus: could the conditions at the venue be the root cause?

Heatstroke can kill anyone, even those who have not taken any substances. Everyone loves a crowd at a good show, but when is it too crowded? What if there are no other areas to move to in case you need a break? What if – as with many nightclubs and concert venues – there’s little or no free water access?

The details of the environment around you are just as crucial to your safety as being educated on what you may or may not be putting in your body. Safe settings save lives.

Is Echostage a safe setting? Nightlife health and harm reduction organization DanceSafe wants to know. They plan to share the information with the venue itself and the rest of the nightlife industry. If you’ve ever been to Echostage, please fill out the DanceSafe survey.

Safe settings are part of the foundation of harm reduction– harm reduction that applies to all nightlife patrons and show attendees. Whether you’re using drugs or not, EVERYONE deserves to be safe.

That’s what Shelley’s mother, Dede Goldsmith, thought. That’s why she started a campaign to make sure other young people would not have the same experience her daughter did.

Imagine how heartbroken she is to hear of Victoria’s death. Imagine how angry she is that this could happen at the same venue where her daughter lost her life.

We don’t want Echostage to close. But we want them to take their patrons’ health seriously and not hide behind anyone’s real or assumed drug use as the reason for their death. There are some hard questions to ask about the way they run their shows and what they could do to make things better.

The music community should be united in this. It’s not just Victoria’s tragedy or Shelley’s – it belongs to all of us who have ever been on the dance floor.

Stefanie Jones is the nightlife community engagement manager for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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Author: Stefanie Jones
Date Published: June 12, 2015
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

Via:: Ddrug Policy Alliance