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Coachella: Concert Grounds or Problem Grounds

Coachella: Concert Grounds or Problem Grounds?

It’s that one time of the year where everyone dresses up in their hipster clothes with a ton of sparkles, goes out for hours on end in the sun to get a tan and listen to the great live music, and parties with a bunch of strangers. Yes- I am talking about Coachella. Coachella has been a great music festival bringing in tons of artists from around the nation to perform since October of 1999. Since opening, however, there have been questionable choices both by attendants and the creator of the festival, Philip Anschutz.

Sexual Harassments:

Throughout a woman’s life, the possibility of being sexually harassed is far higher than those of males (this is simply a fact that I have gathered after speaking with my own friends and through my own experiences). Sadly, concerts are an excellent location for harassment. One Teen Vogue author, Vera Papisova, wrote about her experience at Coachella this year and explained how in only 10 hours of attending the concerts, she had personally been groped twenty-two times. During her interview with 54 other female attendants of this years festival, all had stories about being harassed or assaulted during the time of the festival.

Dangerous Mixing:

At concerts where the lights are flashing, and everyone is dancing or moshing, and most of those of age people have been drinking, it is evident that there is some use of drugs or alcohols at festivals and concerts, especially Coachella. For me, I have often seen people drinking or smoking weed at concerts, something that can result in a feeling called being “twisted” where you will feel sick as you mix a drugs that are both an upper and a downer.

When looking at research done by the NYCPD, one in four festival attendants will use ecstasy (aka-Molly). The danger with using drugs at a festival is that you are never sure what exactly is mixed into the drugs. Instead of taking regular ecstasy, someone could be taking something that is a mix of drugs including bath salts, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.

Philip Anschutz- Where is the money actually going?

If harassment and drug mixing doesn’t sound like grounds for a nightmare, this will. Philip Anschutz has been found to be giving a lot of Coachella’s earnings away. Now, this wouldn’t be such a bad idea if he had been giving it to the ASPCA’s, a local hospital, or a homeless shelter. Instead, multiple articles including one by Complex.com and one by Variety.com have noted that the money is going to anti-LGBTQ+, pro-gun, and even anti-marijuana lawmakers. While the anti-marijuana lawmaker support could be fought either way depending on if you are fighting for or against legal medical or recreational marijuana, Anschutz is fighting for the re-criminalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado even though the benefits have outweighed the negatives in Colorado’s economy. In relation to anti-LGBTQ+, I think we all know where that is going- no marriages for us! Homophobia at its finest!! Following this is the problem with supporting pro-gun’s after the multiple school shootings in the past year. While the funding of pro-gun lawmakers is against what I believe, it is understandable why some people still support these lawmakers.

Open Dialogue:

Here are some quotes from people when I asked them if they knew all that was happening at Coachella, would they still support the festival because of the music and experiences, or no? Why?

~“What’s the point in enjoying the music if you’re indirectly supporting a terrible cause?”

~“Drugs are the individuals choice. I don’t care so long as it doesn’t affect me, but [Coachella’s security] needs to stop any sexual harassment that is going on.”

~“Just because there are drugs doesn’t mean that you have to get involved. Just be mindful and stay with your friends, like the buddy system. If I saw someone being sexually harassed I would try to help them and stop the problem because we can’t fix it unless we try.”

~“I wouldn’t go to Coachella because that’s directly funding something that I don’t believe in. It’s directly adding to oppression and the harm of others, so why would I do that?”

~“Coachella never really appealed to me but the kind of crowd it attracts kind of steers me away from it totally. You’re right there’s a lot of hard drugs and sexual assaults/etc.”

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Darby Keller


Class of 2020: Social Work Major; Women and Gender Studies and International Relations Minors Vice President and Digital Organizing Captain for It's On Us Elizabethtown