Edit: Thanks everyone for your questions! Hope to see you at Nocturnal Wonderland or a future Insomniac festival. :)

We are here to discuss health, safety and sober raving at Insomniac festivals. I'm Maren Steiner, Insomniac’s Director of Health and Safety, and I'm Patt Ochoa, Consciousness Group Volunteer Manager, Co-founder/Program Director of Sustain Recovery Services and member of the Board of Directors for Harmonium. We will be answering questions live!

As Insomniac heads into the 20th Anniversary of Nocturnal Wonderland on September 4-6 at San Manuel Amphitheater and Grounds, safety is paramount. We are here to discuss precautions the company takes to ensure the well being of its attendees and how Insomniac works to educate all members of the dance music community on looking out for one another. We'll also talk about the Consciousness Group, a team of dedicated volunteers who provide a sanctuary for sober attendees with regular meetings, group support and activities at their sober tent during Insomniac’s festivals.

Check out our safety video, We Are Dance Music

Proof: https://twitter.com/insomniacevents/status/638791489598947329

Comments: 116 • Responses: 22  • Date: 

Pseudosocialite22 karma

Why don't you allow organizations like Dance Safe to set up and educate people on site?

RealLionheart22 karma

Pasquale answered this last year actually.

Short answer - They want to, but those in charge see it as encouraging/allowing drug use. They may lose insurance and cities won't issue the permits needed for the events. It's absolutely fucking absurd, but I don't see it changing for a long, long time.

Insomniac_Events25 karma

^ ding ding!

The rave act as well as other local and federal laws don’t allow for having on-site drug testing. Over the years I've had many great conversations with the folks over at Dance Safe and have nothing but respect for them and the work that they are doing. I actually have a collection of their drug information cards on my desk at work. We’re always looking to work with different non profit organizations who have harm reduction programs that don’t include the drug testing part of it. - M.S.

veganplurkitty16 karma

As a raver and someone who has experienced many Insomniac events, thank you Maren and your entire team for your hard work work! I have so much respect for Insomniac on all levels of production that I am now on the Ground Control team. EDC LV 2015 was my first event and Beyond Bay will be my next. :)

I don't speak for everyone but I know many who do not rave, have never attended one or are of an older generation, have the initial reaction that EDM events are just a way for kids to do drugs. The media never portrays raves in a positive and loving light. Do you think the negative stigma that comes with raves is ever going to subside? If not, any suggestions on how to educated others about the positive aspects of these events? Also, HARD just announced that Day of the Dead in Pomona will be strictly a 21+ event, do you see Insomniac ever implementing the same?

Insomniac_Events12 karma

Unless you actually experience our festivals, you'll never know that we have some the most amazing and loving fans of any music festival around. I talk to police officers who work our events for the first time. They only know what they hear in the paper and on the television as well. Then they get on-site and can’t stop talking about all the hugs, high fives and new bracelets they have. One of my favorite pictures is one of our headliners trading kandi with a uniformed officer. The media never shows those images. They also don’t talk much about our charitable giving programs that you guys help with. $1.00 of your ticket purchase goes into a fund to help a local charity in the city that we’re in.

I encourage our fans to speak up. Get involved in your local government. Get involved in helping people and support those that are around you at festivals even if they aren’t part of the group you came with. It only takes one person to start a conversation. - M.S.

ItHurtsWhenIPeeNow8 karma

With an increase focus on safety and health of headliners, is there a possibility of changing current electronic cigarette restrictions? With a large group of ravers I personally know and many others who have voiced their concerns, headliners struggle with not smoking cigarettes at festivals. The current market of disposables do not satisfy many ex-smokers and many resort back to cigarettes for festivals. This can result in ex-smokers reverting back to smoking cigarettes after the festival ends. The ability to hide drugs in e-liquid could be avoided by selling bottles of e-juice at festivals like Cuttwood did at this year's EDC. Allowing empty electronic cigarettes and selling juice at shows would help prevent headliners leaving with a nasty habit they fought so hard to overcome.

Insomniac_Events6 karma

Thanks for joining in on reddit! We actually do sell e-liquid inside of our festivals and you can look for one of our vendors, Juul inside of Nocturnal. At this time, we only allow sealed electronic cigarettes through the gate but are always re-evaluating our allowed/not-allowed items to insure we’re doing everything possible to insure a great headliner experience as well as insure the safety of the festival. - M.S.

Scottstimo7 karma

How can I apply to work Ground Control at upcoming events? Can't wait for Nocturnal this weekend!

Insomniac_Events8 karma

Ground Control is always looking for great people interested in helping others. Spruce up your resume and send it to [email protected]

We have quite a few former Ground Controllers who now work full-time jobs at Insomniac. It’s definitely a great starting off point to people looking to get their foot in the door at Insomniac. - M.S.

Rawwrrool7 karma

Hello Maren, beginning raver here (3 years) now as much as we would like to promote sober raving(party going) we all know people will take risks to have fun. So over the years I've always been that fella who helps out others when in need(water, gum, mini air fan etc.). My question is, when someone is on something and is having a bad time not necessarily sick or passing out, how can I help them to have a better experience?

Insomniac_Events3 karma

First of all, just wanted to say thank you for asking this important question! Often times the hardest part of the job is finding all the people that need help. Imagine if we had all 90,000 fans out there looking out for each other this weekend! If you find someone who you think needs help please walk them to the nearest first aid station or find any Ground Controller or staff member and we’ll get someone out to help right away. Medical is here to help you whether you just need somewhere quiet to sit for a bit, have a bad blister from your new fuzzy boots or aren’t feeling well. Please don’t be afraid. - M.S.

Readatwork5 karma

How many paramedics and doctors/nurses do you guys have at your festivals? How much larger is EDC LV compared to a Nocturnal, Beyond or Escape?

Insomniac_Events5 karma

I’m so proud of the medical teams that we put together at our festival. We only employee the best of the best of emergency room based doctors and nurses and not only do they provide great medicine but they also love what they do. Stop by and say hi anytime! Our medical teams love trading kandi, giving high fives and giving some advice to aspiring medical professionals. EDC Las Vegas is definitely the largest of the festivals that we do so it definitely has the largest medical team of any of our shows. Our numbers vary based on a variety of conditions mainly the size of the show.

One of the best parts of my job is meeting a fan at a festival who loves the scene and then they decide to come and give back to the community through our health and safety programs. - M.S.

DJRonin5 karma

We all know that reduction groups such as DanceSafe are not allowed inside the festivals, but is there a way to have some kind of harm reduction/information groups at say the shuttle places/hotels? Say like hosting a drug safety event/seminar at key events such as EDC?

Insomniac_Events3 karma

See answer above - M.S.

Black_walu5 karma

How would you go about promote sober raving as I know many people who view raves exclusively as a place to indulge in risky activities? This is evident on your safety post on instagram where people laugh it off

Insomniac_Events5 karma

Sober is a lifestyle. At Consciousness Group our volunteers live a sober life and talk to folks about the fun they are having while at the festival, WITHOUT drugs or alcohol. People are attracted to the fun aspect. We bring people into the tent giving support and making friends to hangout throughout the festival. In the same breath, it might not be someone living a sober lifestyle that we connect with at festivals. We are showing everyone that festivals and raves do not have to stay locked into the stigma of substance abuse to have fun. - P.O.

juanmiindset4 karma

What do you recommend for people who dont smoke and have to be around all the smoke during the event?

Insomniac_Events10 karma

I always use a bandana! - P.O.

ARobJourno4 karma

Hi, I'm a reporter w/(Riverside) Press-Enterprise. Can you talk about any changes in procedures/rules to increase fan safety at Insomniac events? And what is done to let people know there's a sober space at events?

Insomniac_Events5 karma

How would you go about promote sober raving as I know many people who view raves exclusively as a place to indulge in risky activities?

Fan safety has always been our number one priority, and we’re always exploring new and innovative ideas on how to better that aspect of our events. We pride ourselves on having an industry-leading safety program, and we are constantly looking at ways to improve our proactive response to safety issues. It’s really important for us to not only reinforce to fans that they should look out for themselves and their health, but also the health of their fellow human beings around them.

There’s a myth out there that people will be arrested for seeking medical attention and we’re partnering with local law enforcement agencies to educate our fans that this is absolutely not the case. Everyone from the security guard at the gate all the way to the police officer protecting the backstage area wants to help you. You just have to not be afraid to speak up.

We’re also working with other music festival companies to share best practices. Safety is an industry-wide issue and unified hard reduction measures are necessary. Together we can work to educate music fans on the potentials dangers of illegal drug use. - M.S.

ARobJourno2 karma

Thanks. To put it more explicitly, does Insomniac take any specific steps to prevent or discourage illicit drug use at its events, and what difficulties does it face (since people could take drugs before arriving/entering the event)? And how much responsibility does the organization have to try to prevent/control drug use?

Insomniac_Events2 karma

Insomniac has a well established zero tolerance policy for illegal activity at all of our events. Our fans are looking out for each other. Through our work with the Brent Shapiro Foundation, every single guest who comes through our entrance gate gets information in our festival guide on what signs and symptoms to look for when someone might need help and what to do to get someone the assistance that they need.

The biggest challenge is getting people to feel comfortable asking for help for themselves or a friend.

We are constantly encouraging our fans to make positive choices for their wellbeing and practice personal responsibility. We work closely with local police, fire and private security teams to ensure the safety of all of our guests.

One of our health and safety initiatives can be viewed here - M.S.

Insomniac_Events3 karma

I’ll let Maren speak to the fan safety aspect. Insomniac promotes Consciousness Group on its main website. Our Consciousness Group also has its own Facebook page, which puts out positive quotes about living a clean and sober life. The Facebook page also gives out information before and during the entire festival giving folks information they need to find support for themselves, for family and for friends. As attendees enter the gates, they can find information on us in the official festival guides and on the Nocturnal Wonderland app. – P.O.

CombativeAccount4 karma

Hey guys. In honor of your 20th anniversary, I was wondering what you think your biggest advancements have been in the last 20 years in terms of safety for your event attendees? What are the biggest challenges you're facing in terms of your attendees' behavior and well being, currently?

Insomniac_Events5 karma

I’ve been working in festival safety for about a decade now and I can tell you that the industry has definitely changed. Concerts used to be the thing and now music festivals rule the land. A few years back I had the privilege of speaking with the medical director of Woodstock. They had equal struggles even back then with educating fans on harm reduction measures as well as not being afraid to get help for themselves or another fan that they see who might be struggling.

Today, there are several big issues at play in our society. The first being drug use. It’s an epidemic in society and definitely not a rave specific problem. Just ask any EMT or Paramedic what kind of calls they are running in their city on a Friday and Saturday night and the answer will most likely be the same. The second major issue is mental health and the stigma to ask for help. This is the “YOLO” generation but they are so smart! It may be hard to see it now but I promise there is a future for you. Don’t be afraid to get healthy. Drugs and alcohol are not the answer. - M.S.

Insomniac_Events4 karma

For anyone looking for support, make sure to drop by the Consciousness Group tent! My team and I are always here for you. We'll also be hosting To Write Love On Her Arms at Nocturnal this year. They're a great nonprofit that offers hope and support for anyone having a hard time. - P.O.

Psychedelia4203 karma

What type of steps should I take if I don't know when someone is either on the verge of overdosing or dosed just enough to have a good time??? Lots of people fall..faint...or just lay on the ground which leave me with a bad gut feeling not knowing if it's a bad or good time happening. I would love to save a life

Insomniac_Events3 karma

We're all family at Insomniac festivals and when you see someone who looks like they might be struggling it’s very important to speak up. Insomniac has worked closely for several years with the Brent Shapiro Foundation and has produced Save A Life cards that are distributed through our festival guides to all in attendance. On there are key points on what to look for, and what to do if you think someone needs help.

Our fans should contact any staff member if they see anyone showing any of the following signs: You can’t wake them up Vomiting Blue, cold, pale or clammy skin or lips Collapsing or passing out Extreme confusion, inability to follow basic command Seizures/Convulsions Chest pain or difficulty breathing

I also encourage our fans to check out the We are Dance Music video that we recently did featuring DJs and Insomniac Staff talking about the importance of, “See Something, Say Something.” - M.S.

Readatwork3 karma

STORY TIME! Can you tell us your funniest story working medical at a rave?

I feel like we only hear all the sad stories coming out of festivals :(

Insomniac_Events10 karma

It’s true, I have some of the best stories! I stress so much to all our staff and vendors that safety is everyones top priority and I'm so grateful that everyone takes it as seriously as I do.

During this years EDC Vegas I got a call over the radio that a big ghost was hanging in the ambulance parking area. One of our employees, while driving the Pacman Ghost Art Car, was flagged down earlier to help a man’s girlfriend who wasn’t feeling well.

The driver gave the nice young lady a lift and she got the ride of her life in this musical ghost all the way to the ambulance bay. It was definitely a good laugh for everyone involved... especially since they left all of the glowy lights on and the music bumping. - M.S.

phamtime2 karma

Long time festival goer and raver here! I have attended most of Insomniacs SOCAL events last year including massives such as Escape and Nocturnal!

I honestly believe that sober raving is the way to go and by giving incentives we can encourage individuals to go sober. Does Insomniac have any ideas of rewarding those who go sober to events?

Insomniac_Events2 karma

An incentive program sounds like a really good idea! We are always looking for new ways to expand our program. Like us on our Facebook page to message us your ideas. Look forward to hearing from you :D - P.O.

CocoFanzz1 karma

A few big name music festivals have experienced some fatalities due to drug use already this year, how do you see Insomniac making changes to make their events safer? Increased security/searching? Has the idea of drug testing inside festivals ever been debated internally? Thanks and see you at Nocturnal!

Insomniac_Events2 karma

Please see the answer above

theta641 karma

Are you guys looking to hire people or find volunteers for international events? I would love to do something with insomniac for edc japan and more. I Love to travel and I speak japanese, Spanish, and english of course. I would love to get involved with you guys. I Been to edc mexico, vegas, and more.

Insomniac_Events2 karma

Definitely contact [email protected]! - M.S.

vibe_with_me1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, a lot of good information is being shared.

Given the negative stigma that comes with raving due to the presence of drugs, many individuals oftentimes forget that several people do actually go these types of events solely for the music, art installations, and to meet new people. Given that, how would you recommend removing the negativity and fears that comes with raves? Anything in particular that can be said to ease others into realizing that raving is not all about the drugs and that in reality there are many sober ravers?

Off topic but: would you mind pointing me in the right direction to the possibility of interning? (if it's available through Insomniac).

Insomniac_Events11 karma

The best thing we can do is to be the example of the message that we are carrying. I talk a lot about the fun that I am having clean and sober at every festival. I talk about the excitement of acts that I have seen and am excited to see. I was watching one of my favorite artists at EDC, dancing hard and sweating like a champ. Another festival attendee, looked at me and asked me what I was on. I looked at him and said "I am clean and sober and have not picked up alcohol or drugs for over 12 years." His jaw opened wide in disbelief. Then we began to talk about how to stay sober at a festival. He continues to stay in contact with me and is still clean and sober. - P.O.

SeamusMichael0 karma

Also is there any way I can be a photographer? I'm really good I promise.

Insomniac_Events3 karma

Hit up /u/bskphoto :). He's our Director of Photography - P.O.

TranceIsLove0 karma

How do you encourage sober raving?

Insomniac_Events2 karma

Answer above :)