It’s always tragic when a punter dies at a music festival, regardless of the circumstances. But what always seems to make it worse is when the authorities and the media try to blame the event or the music, an occurrence which is all too common.
After the death of 19-year-old Harbourlife reveller Georgina Bartter last year, NSW Police superintendent Mark Walton highlighted what he believed was an undeniable link between the electronic music scene and illicit drug use.
“I’m concerned that these electronic music events are consistently intimately associated with illicit psychoactive drug use,” he said. “It does not matter what location they are held in, there is no doubt the nature of the entertainment is intrinsically linked to that drug use.”
Meanwhile, local government in LA are considering a ban on electronic music festivals following the deaths of two young women at the Hard Summer music festival, with LA First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis putting forth a motion to prohibit “these kinds of events”.
That’s why it was surprising to see NSW Police take a very measured and sober stance on the tragic death of 26-year-old Nigel Pauljevic, who was found unconscious during the Defqon.1 electronic music festival in Sydney on Saturday.
Speaking to the ABC, Detective Inspector Grant Healey said the organisers of the popular dance event are not blame for Pauljevic’s death. Instead, Det Insp Healey said, the blame lies with punters making dangerous and in this case fatal decisions.
“Festivals and dance parties aren’t the problem, it’s people making poor adult decisions that are the problem,” he told the ABC. “If you read… what the festival has put out, they tell people… they have got a no drug policy, so it’s adults making really poor adult decisions.”
As Tone Deaf reported yesterday, police are currently investigating the cause of the man’s death and it’s not yet clear if drugs were the cause. The man was found unconscious and friends and security tried to resuscitate him until paramedics arrived.
According to the Defqon.1 website, the event has a “zero-tolerance drug policy” with organisers stressing their “highest priority during [the event] is to create a memorable and above all safe Defqon.1 experience for everyone who comes to party with us”.
“We want to make you aware that the use of illicit substances carries a range of health risks including the possibility of death, and is strictly forbidden at this event,” the statement from organisers continues.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Q-Dance Australia, who organise the annual event, told the ABC, “At present, our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. Everyone on our team is deeply shocked and affected by this tragic event.”
“Until the NSW Police investigation is completed and respecting the privacy of the family, we cannot make any further statements.” Q-Dance Australia previously stated that they are cooperating with police as they conduct their investigation.
According to Nine News, police arrested 60 people at the festival, including 46 for drug offences. Four of those arrested on drug-related offences were for supply, two of whom were allegedly caught with 46 pills.
Officers also stopped a bus bound for the festival, allegedly discovering drugs including MDMA and cannabis on 14 of its 30 passengers. Meanwhile, a search warrant at a Hornsby home also uncovered white powder, believed to be cocaine, and other substances.
Police had issued an anti-drug warning prior to the festival. Dr Karen Fisher, of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District Clinical Director for Drug and Alcohol services, told the Hawkesbury Gazette there were “huge” risks involved.