The COVID-19 Pandemic has touched almost everyone in the Electronic Dance Music scene in one way or another. Events and festivals have been moved to new dates to address this threat and keep us safe. As the music industry attempts to cope while adhering to shelter in place orders and social distancing, many artists, venues, attendees and employees that support this well-oiled machine have been changed spiritually, emotionally, and financially. With the uncertainty of attending events hangs over us all one can’t help but marvel over how packed the fall lineup is with major festivals. With many of us already ticket holders in one fest or another it’s time to strategize to get the most out of a truly remarkable fall 2020 schedule. It’s also time for festival organizers to offer official ticket exchanges as standard practice from this point forward.
Like many of you, as an Electronic Dance Music fan, I love being a part of our caring, responsible and accepting community. Together we all share experiences and through the years have come to expect certain accepted norms. Some examples include many of my favorite things in the scene. Pre-event meetups with my New York Anjunafamily and Trance Family NYC. Being spoiled for choice when it came to an abundance of events and shrugging it off while looking at EDM Train. After parties at venues like Avant Gardner, Brooklyn Mirage, Schamski’s, Elsewhere, and Terminal 5. Knowing that Ultra Miami is in March, EDC LV and Movement are in May, Bonnaroo and Electric Forest are in June, and Electric Zoo, Imagine and Lost Lands are in September. Receiving and activating my wristband. Walking festival grounds cutting through the crowds of other fans and friends who are part of our community.
All of this has changed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Because of the worldwide pandemic, festival organizers have been given no choice but to reschedule, postpone, or cancel. No matter how you look at it, 2020’s festival season has been altered beyond all recognition. There are so many unknowns and unanswered questions! What will happen to the plans we made months ago? Flights, hotels, RV rentals? Everything has changed in what seems to be a blink of an eye! We’re now faced with a packed Fall festival season that’s rife with conflict because many festivals now occur on the same weekend. Many of us are wondering, “Is this the new festival season?” How will lineups be affected by these changes? Can we go to the festivals we planned to go to? What happens to the festivals that are still scheduled in the upcoming months like Electric Forest and Groove Cruise?
How did we get here? February 2020 will be a month we’ll never forget. Living under a threat we didn’t fully understand, many of us continued to live our lives and conduct business as usual. As the month drew on we came to accept the inevitable. That COVID-19 was coming to the U.S. All the while in the back of our minds we hoped it wouldn’t come true. As more infections spread across the states, we were told the city of Miami was taking precautions to protect Americans by banning all meetings of large groups and that this would probably affect Ultra Miami. It was unthinkable that Ultra and Miami Music Week could be canceled, yet it happened amidst shock in the rave community. Looking back at it now I realize how significant the cancelations were and how the fast action of Miami’s leaders saved lives.
When Ultra Miami postponed to 2021, it was a financial blow for many of us. Attempting to get refunds for trips that were canceled because of a public health emergency did not prove easy or produce results for many. I managed to get the money for my AirBNB reservation back. Many are still trying to get refunds for reservations for airfare, hotel stays, and tickets surrounding canceled trips. And then we all had the same question, will other festivals be canceled or delayed? The answer was yes. One by one, event companies announced the regrettable information that we knew by heart before we finished reading the press release. But when would these events be held again and what does a postponement actually mean?
Last year I decided to attend Bonnaroo 2020 in June and Lost Lands 2020 in September. I did a payment plan and stayed within my budget so that by February 2020 I had most of the details figured out. Then I learned that Bonnaroo was not going to be held in June as usual but held in September on the same weekend as Lost Lands. How could I make a decision between Bonnaroo and Lost Lands? So, naturally, I started to look into how long it takes to drive from Ohio to Tennesee. Could I go to two festivals on the same weekend? Suddenly Movement was also moved to September, on the same weekend as Breakaway and Dancefestopia. And finally, EDC Las Vegas was moved to October. It was at that point I realized that festival season 2020 is now a Fall showcase filled with many of the best festivals and I was going to figure out how I could attend as many of them as possible.
I still wondered what would happen to the lineup? I’m looking forward to the Other Stage at Bonnaroo that was due to have Electronic Dance Music for 24 hours. Hopefully, this will still happen. I’m fairly certain that Lost Lands will still procure the best in Bass. Imagine was a feel-good festival and I want to feel like that again. EDC Las Vegas was incredible last year and I want to go regardless of whether the lineup changes because the experience was unforgettable. Festivals that haven’t changed their dates will inevitably change them sooner or later if needed. If living through this has taught us anything, it is to expect changes in the coming months. Travel restrictions will have an effect over the number of artists that come to the U.S. and there may be some pushback from the locations in the cities where the fests are taking place even after this social distancing order is called off but this is to be expected.
Yes. Fall 2020 is proving to be one of the most exciting times for the festival season. I’m also looking at attending festivals that I couldn’t before. Something that could really help going forward is if festival organizers would consider making ticket exchanges standard to cut out the unnecessary step of trying to buy or exchange tickets from a third party. While it may be hard to look toward what lies in the future keep in mind how many people are working hard to make sure the world is safe again and to reschedule these events so we can enjoy them. Now truly is the time for us to support one another and to make a difference when we can for the months ahead. Stay safe, keep your eyes and ears open and we will all fest again.