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Tips to dance safely - takeaways from IMS Ibiza day 1

On its first day, IMS 2018 delves deep into the big issues surrounding our industry and how to react moving forward.

The tragic passing of Avicii has brought the debate about addiction and mental health in the industry back under the spotlight. Never one to shy away from sensitive issues, the International Music Summit (IMS) approached the topic head-on, by opening this year's conference in memoriam.

After Pete Tong delivered an emotionally charged eulogy to the late DJ and producer, the first panel explored our collective duty of care. It's a debate that we've heard regularly in recent years. But this year's felt all the more poignant, as our industry looks to avoid another preventable tragedy.

As much as the focus of the panel was about touring artists and other professionals working within the industry, we couldn't help but think a lot of the points raised were equally applicable to those on the dance floor.

Have a look below to see how these can apply to you and your friends ahead of the summer.


Take a step back

Part of the panel, Matthew Stuart an artist manager whose clients include Ben Pearce, was candid in his admission of guilt. When he was initially confronted with Ben's fragile mental state, his first concern was financial, not welfare.

He had to take a step back, before acknowledging, primarily, he cared about the well-being of his friend.

It made me wonder: how often do we see our friends experiencing the adverse side-effects of substance misuse - maybe even psychosis - but are too wrapped up in the moment to show any empathy and support?

Worse yet, have we ever left them in the hands of the venue's medical team, whilst we continue to enjoy ourselves? Being reflective, I can already recall an occasion from the off-season when a scenario similar to the above played out.

As a group, we collectively left one of our party by herself to deal with somebody who was suffering from the effects of excess. It was a fairly low-key situation, but still one that should not have happened. The onus should not have fallen at the feet of one individual. The duty of care lies with all of us.


Look after one another

Radio 1's Danny Howard made an interesting point, too: “Your body and mind are different than anybody else's.” When a culture of bravado and keeping pace with everybody else becomes ingrained, it's easy to forget that our body shapes, sizes, metabolisms and tolerances vary.

By their very nature, psychoactive substances affect each person to the next differently. As much as we tend to indulge in groups sometime, those special moments we experience on the dance floor are actually incredibly personal, a solipsistic experience that can be quite a selfish pursuit.

How many times do we think a track or DJ set is amazing, yet the people we're with might not necessarily agree? When you're having the time of your life, it's a common misconception to assume everybody else must be as well. It's easy to get lost in a moment, to stay in your bubble.

IMS co-founder Pete Tong talks of “anchors” – friends and family of touring DJs who keep them grounded and pull them back from the allure of indulgent temptations. Sometimes we should ask ourselves whether we are anchors? Or whether we are enablers? You can still have fun, whilst being the former.

Talking about part of her duties as Nicole Moudaber's manager, panel expert Christine Brown acknowledges that it's her “responsibility to keep her successful and healthy.” Similarly, we must all take responsibility to make partying fun but safe.

Peer pressure, social conditioning, the filter of social media platforms - call it what you will. We live in a culture with a fear of missing out, as though we can't say “no”. But it's a myth. It's easy to live in the moment, without the foresight of looking beyond it. There will always be another party.


Practice moderation even in excess

Eating a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep and staying hydrated are essential at the best of times, let alone either side of sessions on the dance floor. Yet the number of distractions on offer on Ibiza means these fundamental practices often get overlooked.

Go out on the first night of your holiday and have a heavy one, but risk writing yourself off for the rest of your time here. Or consider giving yourself a night off between parties. It might actually give you more stamina, meaning you can hit an extra party in the long run.

The same principle can be applied to those staying the season. The season is long. Do not peak too early. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

I am reminded of a childhood proverb: “live to fight another day.” Basically, know which battles to fight, and when it's worth cutting your losses. On a more subliminal level, it's applicable to picking your party schedule wisely. Say “no” today, so you can say “yes” tomorrow.

With initiatives like the Remedy State, our industry is looking beyond the unrealistic ideal of abstinence and sobriety, looking instead towards rest and recuperation, education and awareness. While the growing trend amongst Generation Z is more holistic lifestyles, it's unlikely that our scene will make the full transition with them. After all, this is an industry is sold on escapism and hedonism.


Summing up

Clubs and festivals are very intense social situations. Sometimes we just need to look to make sure everybody around us is alright. Friends. Acquaintances. Strangers. We need to take a collective responsibility for mental health, substance misuse, sexual harassment and their often overlapping indicators to limit their potentially fatal consequences.

Identify the signs and take action if you notice any of them in your nearest and dearest. Reach out and make that human connection.

Eradication may be a hurdle too far, but harm reduction is more than achievable. Let's move away from a culture of excess and reckless behaviours, and create a culture of moderation and wellness.

As Luciano – the most recent high profile name to come forward with an admission of addiction and depression – states, we need to remember that “the reason we all go out is to laugh and share. Music is magic. You don't need anything but your heart and imagination.”

Dance safely this summer and always, starting with IMS Dalt Vila this Friday 25 May.

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