An Open Letter to the Music Community

Amber Long

In collaboration with Lauren Krieger

By now, most of us have been rocked by the recent shooting at one of this year’s BPM closing parties at the Blue Parrot in Playa Del Carmen. The jolt of pain that spreads through social media, our lives and our minds when something like this happens is indescribable. We are affected as a collective because we are united by the music we love. This music was created within a space where people could be themselves, moving together, letting go of their worries, and getting lost in the music. When someone enters this space and brings violence, fear, and hate, it feels devastating. How many people were you frantically trying to reach at BPM after news broke of the shooting? Most of us would say many, and even if we didn’t know anyone there, we absorbed the shock and sadness as if we knew everyone involved. This shows we are a community, a fearless one, and I just needed to write this letter to bring some light in a dark time.

More Questions Than Answers

No one expects gun violence at our clubs and festivals. I think it’s fair to say that no one expects a good time to go so bad. “That’ll never happen at one of OUR shows.” we like to think. But it does! Time and time again, and it’s getting more frequent. Are we going to have to wear bullet proof vests to go out? How can we amp up security without more security staff getting hurt? It brings down the vibe to go through metal detectors at the door but is this where we are headed? Are all electronic music festivals south of the border going to be banned? I’m at a loss for answers because this type of tragedy is often out of our control. There’s a sub-current of speculation in each situation as to WHY it happened but the fact is, innocent people are dying.

Every weekend we take for granted going out and being safe. DJs tour all over the world just hoping the promoter at the other end takes care of them. Security guards consider it “just another gig”. Our lives literally weigh in the balance every time we leave the house. The kids who died in Argentina last year didn’t expect not to come home. Clubbers in Orlando never dreamt what was coming. And party-goers closing off BPM’s 10th Anniversary were none the wiser.

IMG_3538As touring artists, we find ourselves in daunting places. We just happen to be there. Norman Hines, owner of Stripped Recordings, says he had just left the venue not 10 minutes prior to the shooting in Playa Del Carmen. Amy DB posted on Facebook that she was in Miami during the Orlando shootings, Istanbul during the bombing on NYE and now was present in Playa. Darin Epsilon posted about how uneasy he was flying through a certain airport recently too. Let’s face it, this world is a very scary one to maneuver in.

The truth is, we can never know when tragedy will strike, when it’s our time to go, or when we’ll lose someone close to us. Chaos is the reality of life. The challenge is to keep on living with the an open heart and mind, to make the most of every moment, to do the things you enjoy, and certainly to not let a few people ruin the culture and community we have built around this music.


But There is Something We Can Do

Our place of peace and harmony, release and acceptance has been damaged over and over again, and it’s our role to change things from the inside out.

Be smart about drugs:
As more news comes out about BPM, it’s disheartening to hear the words coming from locals: “BPM is seen as a festival specifically for druggies. With this many drugs coming in and tourists, this was bound to happen.” Ouch. That’s rough, but a harsh truth we should be looking at ourselves to address. Parties and festivals will always be places where people want drugs to enhance the experience, but maybe we need to ask ourselves just how important they really are. Is it really worth risking your life over? Worth putting yourself and others in danger? Electronic Music Festivals have been banned from multiple places because of the drug culture and what it brings. I know it can never be stopped, but there needs to be a different approach, we need to make smarter choices. We should be welcomed, not banned.

Look out for others & yourself:
Some deaths are preventable. The next time you’re out, don’t turn a blind eye to the person who is really messed up, accepting it as the norm. CARE. Eyeball them to be sure they’re ok. Be brave enough to step in as the ‘pretend boyfriend’ of the girl who is getting cruised by a creep. Be someone positive at the party and do what you have to to keep the communal vibe going. Pay for someone’s cab ride home. Trust your gut, listen to your inner voice. Care about yourself because you have a life to lead when the party is over. Take safety precautions. Get your drugs tested. Know your limits. Have an excess of water at events. I don’t know what’s right for you but there’s always room for improvement.

Yes, PLUR:
I implore you, Underground Community, to bring back the true essence of PLUR. It’s so cheesy but really, only the acronym is cheesy. Peace, love, unity and respect. Isn’t that what our scene is about? We are responsible for what we bring into our environment. Are we (as much as possible) bringing peace, love, unity and respect?

You’re going to come to know me as an eternal optimist, a happiness-hopeful. I think the true essence of the scene can be recaptured if we all put a little more care into it. And when unforeseen occurrences happen beyond our control, we need to know we have a safety net, a brotherhood we can rely on and never forget those we’ve lost along the way.

This latest tragedy brings an emotional, bittersweet wave of deep introspection. Let’s lend a hand and show support as we grieve together. It’s the time to make solemn commitments to keeping our scene safe, a haven for us all to enjoy.

Music is pure. It’s so pure. And our love of music is pure. We can’t let fear stop us from going out or traveling and touring but we can take precautionary measures as a whole to make our scene safer. We can put the utmost value on the person’s life before us, beside us, and everyone around us because we are each an integral part of our scene and we need each other. No matter what we do, simply ‘taking care of each other’ may not save lives when guns come out, but as a whole, taking care of each other creates a more enriched, tight knit environment to party in. That’s what we are all looking for on any given weekend night?

Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now

Photography by Khris Cowley for Here & Now