CONCERTS and other live events involve huge crowds, loud and upbeat music, and an intense party atmosphere. Letting people have a good time is the purpose of such events.
Sadly, this was not the case at the recent CloseUp Forever Summer rave dance party, which was marred by the deaths of five people including two aged 18.
At first, authorities assumed that the victims suffered from heatstroke or dehydration due to the sweltering El Niño phenomenon. However, autopsies revealed that the deaths—from heart attack and multiple organ damage—were caused by ingesting a drug so lethal, “it had the same effect as swallowing an explosive,” wrote Aie Balagtas See in a May 26 story in the Inquirer.
After going through incident reports, news articles and stories from people who were there, I recalled the things that I personally witnessed that night.
The venue was so packed, I don’t think there were only 14,000 people inside. Getting closer to the stage meant being crushed by the crowd; not only was it difficult to move, it was also hard to breathe.
I didn’t just see people jumping to the beat of the music, flashing neon lights, and heightened party emotions. In between all these, I saw them drinking something and going for another one. You could tell they took something, a substance, just by looking into their eyes.
There was even a group that had pacifiers in their mouths. If they were trying to make “toddler chic” a new fashion statement, I don’t think it worked.
Liquor sold in the venue was served in cups, not bottles. This made me suspicious, since bottles were listed as one of several items prohibited in the event. At the entrance, I saw people who were already intoxicated; inside, I saw boxes of alcohol scattered all over the place and packets filled with some sort of “powder” that people were passing around and inhaling. I couldn’t tell the color of the powder.
When the lights were bright enough, I saw some teenagers smoking, and based on the scent, I could tell they weren’t smoking a cigarette. It smelled more like a mixture of moldy grass and the liquid used in electronic cigarettes.
Moving my head in an up- and-down motion, I noticed a few people sitting on the ground, holding a bottle and looking flushed. You could tell that some of them were not yet of legal age.
A good party doesn’t have to break rules, I told myself. Deciding to call it a night, I made my way out of the VIP area, where I noticed people dancing with wild abandon, the girls oblivious to the catcalling. There was a pungent scent in the air, perhaps due to the garbage near the area, or maybe something else.
That night may have been a blur to me, but to those who lost a friend or family member, it was an event that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
I hope this tragedy leads to more efforts to educate the youth about the danger of hard drugs, improvement of public health laws and stringent security in concerts.
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