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The Safety Dance: Navigating Smaller, Safer Event Practices

Expert Advice >

Brown Paper Tickets presents the first in our series of Expert Articles, in which we’ll bring you tips and advice from professionals to help you make informed decisions on event safety.

As an attendee, what safety measures should you look for in an event right now? How can we make the best of the current situation? Is fun even still possible?

All these questions and more can be addressed through a lens of risk assessment and harm reduction. Fun can still be possible if we take proper precautions. Smaller, local, and outdoors are the name of the game at this juncture, and creative event organizers are rising to the challenge. How to find them and what to look for? Let’s let the experts speak.

Today, we bring you some words of experience from Mitchell Gomez, Executive Director of DanceSafe. Founded in 1998, DanceSafe is a non-profit organization dedicated to, as Mitchell puts it: “broad spectrum health education and harm reduction” within the live music community. DanceSafe actively advocates for event safety in the realms of drug testing, sexual health and consent, and basic yet crucial aspects like hearing protection, heat stroke, and even sun protection. “We give out literally hundreds of gallons of sunscreen every year!” says Mitchell. So naturally, we reached out to DanceSafe to get their take on the state of smaller events, and what a ticket buyer should look for.

“This [virus] is already changing the way that people analyze risk,” he noted. “I think people should be staying as local as possible. Booking local acts as opposed to bringing in larger touring acts is, I think, a really responsible thing.”

Ok, so you’ve got such a local event in mind. What kind of precautions should you look for before you attend? Mitchell tells us that “mandating masks, having a venue that is large enough” are key measures. Look for an organizer that “keeps ticket sales small enough that you can effectively socially distance within an event. Booking a venue that has a capacity of 1,000 and selling 200 tickets is financially difficult, but I think probably the most responsible way…to mitigate that risk. Let people have the room to spread out.”

Moving forward, he predicts “I would not at all be surprised to see temperature checks, contact-tracing apps on cell phones, and masks become fully integrated within the music community.” For most indoor activities, masks have already become the norm. But that doesn’t necessarily have to be a downer. “As somebody who’s really into post-apocalyptic punk fashion, I’m not that upset about it!” joked Mitchell. “The nice thing about the music community is that we’re great at turning anything into a fashion statement.” Get ready for that local, Ragnarok-themed rave!

Is it safer to abstain entirely? Yes, and many will. But as Mitchell observed, “The reality is that we all engage in harm reduction all the time. There’s ways to mitigate the risks. Sunscreen is a really good example, condoms is another one I think everyone can wrap their heads around.”

Together, we can adjust and adapt. And still support our local arts community in safer ways so they’ll be there on the other side of this. For all the hours of dance and other joys they’ve brought to our lives, it’s the least we can do.

You can find more info about DanceSafe on their website at: