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Anton Zaslavski (Zedd) at a UMF event.

Amidst Security Challenges, UMF Bans Backpacks, And More

The Ultra Music Festival (UMF), a popular electronic dance music (EDM) festival, has prohibited the admission of selfie sticks, backpacks, purses, and any other bags that are not transparent into the event (among other things). This sounds like an unusual policy, but could it be warranted? Let’s explore the situation.

Anton Zaslavski (Zedd) at a UMF event.
Zedd at Ultra Music Festival.
Image obtained with thanks from Rukes.

Drug Use At UMF

A study found that drug usage at Ultra Music Festival was exceptionally high. I won’t get into the debate about how high drug usage is at other events, and among people in general, but it appears to be high in all those other cases too. At the UMF event, 72% of 145 voluntary participants admitted to consuming molly, ecstacy, cocaine, and marijuana within the past week. 100 of the participants had their blood and urine tested.  Respectively, 58% and 80% of them had consumed ‘designer’ drugs, according to the Miami Herald.

‘We found the participants at the event were very open with us about their knowledge of the drug scene and drug use,’ said Barry Logan, the executive director of the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education. ‘We found a lot of the time what they thought they were taking was not what they were taking’, according to the source. ‘Designer’ drugs are formulations designed to mimic the effect of illegal drugs to avoid detection. The bag restrictions should help to reduce the entry of psychoactive drugs into the festival, as undercover police officers will be able to see through them.

UMF Attendance Rates

Last year, Ultra Music Festival attracted 160,000 attendees over the course of the event. This is a staggering figure, and it augments the chances of a dangerous accident or crime. The large number of people makes it very difficult to monitor illegal activity and abuse. People can sell drugs in broad daylight unnoticed.

Speaking of security issues: In March of 2014, Erica Mack, a security guard, was trampled almost to death by a mob of rabid fans without tickets. She suffered severe brain injuries. This prompted Miami authorities tell the organizers to secure the event’s perimeter more effectively.

According to Gigwise:

Ultra released a statement wishing Mack a ‘swift and full recovery’, and added: ‘Every year the event organisers work collaboratively with police and other municipal partners along with the organisers’ independent security partners to ensure the safety of all patrons, crew and working personnel.’

‘[We] prohibit any form of unlawful entry in to the event grounds. Preliminary investigations show that the incident was caused by individuals not in possession of event tickets and who were determined to gain unauthorised entry.’

Ultra told Kompulsa that this year, they will use the same barricades as the Formula E event, standing at 12 feet tall. They will also use additional check-in lanes and ticket takers to prevent such an incident from happening again. March is a very busy month in Miami (referred to colloquially as ‘March Madness’) due to the popular UMF and Formula E events.

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