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Vietnamese festivals wait for comeback after drug deaths in Hanoi

Wednesday, October 24, 2018, 11:41 GMT+7
Vietnamese festivals wait for comeback after drug deaths in Hanoi
Thousands of party-goers enjoy the 2017 Ravolution Music Festival in Hanoi in this photo provided by the organizer.

A number of EDM (electronic dance music) festivals are still waiting for a comeback after the deaths of seven people who died of suspected overdoses while attending a musical festival last month that led to the halt of licensing for this kind of program across Vietnam.

The incident happened at an EDM concert themed ‘Trip to the moon’ at the Ho Tay Water Park in Tay Ho District, Hanoi on September 16.

Several outdoor music events in the northern city of Hai Phong, the northern province of Quang Ninh, Nha Trang City in south-central Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and other localities were simultaneously canceled following the tragedy.

Authorities have imposed a bruising ban on all EDM festivals in Hanoi until further notice.

The ban is a blow to the EDM industry, which netted US$7.4 billion globally last year, including $1 billion in the Asia-Pacific, according to the 2017 IMS Business Report.

Cancellations en masse

In a discussion with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, To Van Dong – director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports – confirmed that the city did stop giving licenses to music festivals, which then led to the suspension of multiple EDM events.

“Although we highly agree to the EDM programs as they are the favorite playgrounds of young people, we still have to reconsider whenever such an incident recurs,” Dong said.

“The department can only talk about the licenses for EDM festivals once the police deliver a final announcement on the [‘Trip to the moon’] incident,” the director asserted.

One of the instances for these cancelations is the Ravolution Music Festival 2018 initially scheduled for September 29 at the Hanoi University of Science and Technology’s stadium.

According to a representative of the event, the show was planned one year in advance with tickets sold and remuneration already paid to invited foreign artists.

“EDM has just developed in Vietnam, now this incident happened,” the representative said, expressing concern about the future of EDM in the Southeast Asian country.

Just like him, several other music party organizers hope the deaths at the ‘Trip to the moon’ will not see the nascent rave scene brought to a premature end in Vietnam.

DJ Huy DX, who had 14 shows canceled, told Tuoi Tre that he looked forward to the day when the music festivals are licensed again.

But what makes the EDM fest organizers most worried is that the music genre is deemed a kind of music only for misbehaving youngsters, a ‘prejudice’ that used to be imposed on rock in Vietnam before.

Had it not been for outdoor music shows like Rock Storm, which often attracts thounsands of participants every year, the reputation of rock lovers and rockers as passionate people that spread positivity to the community and society would not have been there, according to Vietnamese musician Quoc Trung.

Likewise, booming numbers of hard-partying youngsters have put Vietnam on the EDM map in recent years.

Fans in turn have been rewarded with visits from DJ royalty like Martin Garrix and Hardwell to sold-out festivals.

Chance for change

Waiting for the green light from authorities, some think it is better to take the death catastrophe as a chance to change.

The organizing board of the Ravolution Music Festival said that they are trying to improve their staff’s problem-solving skills, especially in safety control, during the suspension.

Moreover, the organizer is offering tickets equipped with RFID (Radio-frequency identification), which uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects, to help ensure tight security at all stages when the event comes back.

“We contacted various pretisgous organizations in Europe to work on the standards of safety and security at music festivals in Vietnam,” the Ravolition representative revealed.

“We see this incident as a chance for us, who are working in the music event industry, to increase the quality of the music festivals,” he positively said.

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Bao Anh / Tuoi Tre News

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