If you’re going to Imagine Festival in Georgia this weekend, be prepared to empty your bag and discard almost everything you brought. The festival recently shared a list of banned items over the weekend and… yeah. It’s brutal. There are to be no stuffed animals, pacifiers, vitamins, massagers, or markers (???) permitted on festival grounds.
We get it. You don’t want people doing drugs at your festival. Unfortunately, people have been managing to do drugs at every single music festival ever since the beginning of time (okay, maybe not at Alive Festival, but you get the point).
Nowadays, at high-capacity events, I’m okay with going through a metal detector and tolerating a firm frisk. There’s a genuine fear that Americans deal with regularly, thanks to the frequent occurrence of mass shootings in this country. Music festivals, in particular, can cause a flare of anxiety. Most of us know that the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas during Route 91 Harvest music festival was the deadliest in our history (and that says a lot). Just a few weeks ago, someone was arrested outside of Bass Canyon on suspicion of planning a mass shooting.
These bans, however, appear to be just based on optics. Yes, pacifiers are typically worn by people who are on ecstasy. Yes, smuggling ketamine into the show in a stuffed animal is a pretty good idea. Would I like someone to use a massager on my back while I’m on acid? You bet. No matter how many different drug-friendly items you try and ban, nothing will stop people from bringing in drugs. They will find a way around it.
Someone could easily argue that since drug overdoses are at their highest ever (fuck fentanyl), deterring people from using them as much as possible is worth it, especially if you’re the folks in charge. You might be held liable for what happens on festival grounds. In response to that, why not partner with any of the various harm reduction organizations like DanceSafe or Bunk Police, who help people test their substances and give out the life-saving medicine Narcan (naloxone)?
Imagine Festival’s list of banned items just screams everything large-scale events are doing wrong regarding these issues. They’re not the only ones handling it poorly, but this list is one of the most egregious I’ve seen in recent memory.
I mean—even over-the-counter medicine is banned. So if you get a headache that might cause you to end your night early, you’re fucked. If I went to Imagine Festival, I’d literally be hiding Advil in my shoes. There are better ways to keep your festival safe.
Reid BG is ThisSongIsSick’s editor-in-chief. You can follow him on Twitter here.