Music festivals consist of much more than just sweaty, screaming, poorly dressed people. Being a fan of the music festival scene myself, I have witnessed it all, and while some argue that there should be an age limit for concerts, it seems to me that the atmosphere is just fine for a middle schooler who is seeking to enjoy a favorite DJ.
Some fail to realize that the music is actually the reason to attend, not the “party” or the “raging.” Music played at festivals ranges from computer-generated EDM to rap, to country. Some festivals that feature electronic music, such as Ultra Music Festival, Electronic Daisy Carnival, and Sunset Music Festival, have been putting age restrictions on entry. This forces those who are not of age to miss out on what could have been the best day/days of their lives.
The establishment of age-restriction policies means young fans must watch these festivals as videos when they are released on YouTube or in the form of live-streams. The supposedly safer atmosphere of watching from the comfort of one’s home eliminates middle schoolers from the crowd, and even those who are simply not yet 18, depending on the restrictions.
It is unfair that these fans are deprived of a rich cultural experience simply because they are not of age. Age restrictions are usually set to allow those that are ages 16+, 18+ or 21+ into the events. Setting an age restriction of 16+ is suitable; elementary schoolers might not be safe in these crowds but middle schoolers definitely are.
What this age restriction is basically implying is that the atmosphere of a music festival is not safe for an emerging teenager. But I disagree. Colorfully dressed people, good vibes and blasting music is more than suitable.
In September 2014, the Ultra Music Festival in Miami placed a new age restriction on entry to the event, only allowing those 18 and older to attend. This left out 17-year-olds, who are more than capable of surviving in a crowd full of sweaty, screaming ravers, as well as 16- and 15-year-olds.
Setting age restrictions gives a negative connotation to festivals, suggesting that the atmosphere might be dangerous for younger people. This is not the reputation music festivals should be have or be judged on since there is much more to it. Music festivals serve the sole purpose of bringing people together for music. This is what they are all about.
Music festivals have recently acquired this bad reputation of being prone to deaths among young people, but this is merely something that may occur anywhere else. One death in a festival, although tragic, shouldn’t stop thousands of younger fans from attending. There are other solutions to promoting safety at festivals. For example, eliminate dehydration by lowering of the price of water. Water fountain stations scattered throughout festivals could also be useful. Ultra charged $5 per water bottle last year. If this festival’s organizers really want a safer environment, affordable water is the least they can do.
The best days of my life have been at music festivals. The two times I’ve been lucky enough to attend these concerts, I was 16. I was there to enjoy the music and they were experiences I wish I could re-live once again but will be unable to next year because I am not yet 18. From a 16-year-old’s point of view, the atmosphere was safe. It might’ve gotten sweaty, but the crowd of positive energy was just fine.
Maybe it’s the provocative clothing worn by young girls, the flashy bracelets or the word “molly” that’s thrown around that can give electronic dance music festivals a bad reputation, but in reality, this genre of music is much more than that. There may be the festival-goers who are there for the illicit drugs, but there are also those that are there to enjoy the music. Electronic dance music is like no other genre. The music festival experience is indescribable and fans of all ages should be able to live it.