NYC Electric Zoo’s Inaccessibility of Water Is Counterintuitive For Come To Life Campaign

FestPop
Photo Credit: Electric Zoo

Made Event Bans Camel-baks, Prohibits Reusable Water Bottles, and Decreases Number of Water Refill Stations

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Thousands of music fans are raving about the upcoming Electric Zoo festival on social media; however the feedback and attention are far from positive. In lieu of last year’s casualties, Electric Zoo has initiated a full-fledged public safety campaign Come to Life. Although the campaign is a thoughtful approach to improve safety, the festival organizers’ last-minute ban of CamelBaks is counterintuitive and contradicts every message the campaign expresses. Additionally, water will not be easily accessible because there will only be two water refill stations where free cups will be provided.
CamelBaks, as well as reusable bottles, are vital for the safety and hydration of festival attendees who use them, as well as for the environment. While water is the most integral part of harm reduction, it is also the least accessible. Festival goers are reluctant to spend $50 each day for bottled water, miss out on their favorite DJ sets, and wait in long lines for refill stations on site. Rather than prohibiting CamelBaks or reusable bottles, heightening security measure to thoroughly examine these items is more responsible and safe. Electric Zoo needs to improve accessibility to water in order to ensure that its attendees are safe; if these needs are met we can all “come to life.” ElectricZoo4 “Come to Life is about rolling life, not face. It’s about not missing one moment of the lights, the music, and the celebration.” This campaign electriczoofestival.com/ctl/ educates “zoo animals” on safe partying and harm reduction, suggesting to look after one another, drink plenty of water, to rest, and to be aware of the festival’s medical/help centers and refill stations. And with this campaign comes a list of prohibited items, of which the promoters deem as harmful for the festival, its venue, and its attendees. Items on this list include empty water bottles, canteens, misters, and CamelBaks. On August 12, Electric Zoo issued a statement on Facebook regarding this decision:

Rather than building up the hype for a festival two weeks away, Electric Zoo caused social media outrage with thousands of negative feedback, anger and disappointment (Over 200 comments on Reddit, 1000 comments with too-many-to-count replies on Facebook, and more on Twitter). The festival has yet to respond to these concerns/demands and continues to delete several comments on their Facebook feed. Ticket holders, including those who have planned on bringing their CamelBaks, feel as if they were cheated because the terms initially included CamelBaks on the list of permitted items. “In the original agreement CamelBaks were allowed. Now that they have backed out aren’t we technically allowed to be issued a fully refunded ticket?” (Facebook user on August 12). No, Electric Zoo and Made Event are not legally required to refund tickets. Why? When purchasing your ticket, you acknowledge your understanding of the terms and conditions put forth by Flavorus, the ticketing company, and Made Event/Electric Zoo.
By checking that box and purchasing your ticket, you agree to these terms and agree that Electric Zoo has the right to change any of its policies. Aside from defending the organizers on this matter, it is in bad taste that Made Event made this policy change 17 days prior to the event; even more is the organizers lack of consideration for easily accessible water when they heavily advocate for safe partying. This information should have been made at least 180 days in advance, which would give its attendees the opportunity to refund their tickets if they wished. It is understandable that corporations want to make profit, but where do you draw the line between making money and retaining customer loyalty? What about backpacks? CamelBaks are backpacks after all, only with a pouch to fill water with. It’s ironic that small backpacks are allowed but CamelBaks are not. Couldn’t organizers and security experts train its security staff to properly inspect the CamelBaks, canteens, and misters upon entering? Shouldn’t there be a standard of procedures to increase security while maintaining the safety of the festival patrons? Shouldn’t the festival practice sustainability and encourage patrons to bring reusables? With the removal of these highly-used items, free cups will be provided at two water refill stations inside the venue. Last year, there were three water refill stations and this year there will be two.

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How does the reduction in water refill station improve safety? How are free cups going to supplement the loss of a CamelBak or a reusable water bottle? As another Facebook user had mentioned, “When my water falls in the middle of a set, when I’m in the crowd for hours, or when a friend or fellow concertgoer needs hydration, will you guys be bringing us cups of water, or making refill trips so we don’t miss the artist that we’ve paid hundreds to see?”

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For festival goers, purchasing decisions affect how they experience the festival especially if they are limited in monetary resources. According to Nielsen Entertainment’s Audience Insights: Electronic Music Report , 33% of all electronic music listeners are 18-24 years old, 28% of whom are currently in college, and 19% have either Associates of Bachelor’s degrees. 15% of the sampled audience has an income between $0-24,999 annually and 27% has an income of $25,000-$49,000. Festivals are widely popular amongst the Millennials and host 80-90% of the fans within this age range (this is an educated guest based on first-person perspective when attending festivals). And with this analysis, most are either in college (strapped by financial restrictions) or recently graduated (struggling to pay of student loans) barely able to afford the entire experience. The price of an Electric Zoo ticket, including service fees, is $425.16. Factor in the cost of transportation to New York (up to $500 for those travelling from other states…California for example) and food/beverages (up to $100) and this Labor Day Weekend trip is estimated to cost the fan $1000.00 at most. As a result, these attendees will be reluctant to purchase multiple $5.00 bottled waters. Of course, they will without a doubt end up paying for a few but making water inaccessible can be detrimental to their health.
According to Steven Born’s What You Need to Know About Hydration , “you lose on average about one liter (about 34 ounces) of fluid per hour of exercise. Extreme heat and humidity can raise this amount to three liters in one hour.” The festival occurs from 1 PM to 11 PM each day, and one will dance an average of six hours per day. Factoring in New York’s summer heat and humidity, which is forecasted to be 80-90 degrees  from the afternoon to evening, will dehydrate you much sooner than what Born has suggested. For every hour you dance at Electric Zoo, you will need to consume 3 liters of water, which an average CamelBak holds, to maintain hydration. Guessing that Electric Zoo will provide 16 oz cups to its patrons, you will need to consume six cups of water each hour. Of course, the “zoo animal” will not carry six cups of water into the crowd (frankly that’s impossible), nor will he or she drink all six cups at the time. And forcing these attendees out of the crowd to make countless water trips can tire them out and is a waste of their money. It’s pertinent for organizers of Electric Zoo, or any festival for that matter, to make water easily accessible. Solutions need to be discovered instead of prohibiting items altogether.
CamelBaks, misters, canteens, and other reusable water bottles are lifesavers-both for the attendees and the festival- and they should be reconsidered. Placing at least one water refill station at each stage and charging bottled water each at $1 (they will still make profit) are positive solutions to this matter; the need to replenish your bodies after hours of dancing will be met and attendees will be able to spend their money on other items, such as souvenirs, that will benefit the brand and its financials. Made Event, please listen to your fans and consider alternate solutions for harm reduction. Your fan base will sustain and the probability of drug-related/dehydration/heat stroke-induced deaths will decrease, and only then will we all “Come To Life.”
*We tried to reach out to Made Event and its founders but they were unavailable for comment. NY Times, however, recently published an article featuring an exclusive interview with Mike Bindra and Laura de Palma, co-founders and husband-wife duo of Made Event. Read full article  *UPDATE: Electric Zoo Festival posted on Facebook today, provide an update and response to the CamelBak ban.

By  Chris Hong, FestPop Sr. Staff Writer Email Comments to:[email protected]
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