ATLANTA — Organizers of the electronic dance music festival TomorrowWorld are taking extra precautions to maintain a safe environment for concert-goers this weekend after two drug-related deaths occurred at a similar festival in New York this summer.
“We’re a zero tolerance festival.” said Shawn Kent, the U.S. project director for ID&T, the Belgian company producing TomorrowWorld, a three-day festival that kicks off in suburban Atlanta on Friday.
“If you’re caught with an illegal substance, then you’re out,” he continued. “We communicated with our fans very clearly that it’s not acceptable.”
Earlier this month, the last day of the Electric Zoo festival in New York City was canceled after two attendees died and several were hospitalized. The city’s medical examiner’s office said the concert-goers overdosed on MDMA, known as Molly.
Now the focus is on TomorrowWorld, one of Europe’s largest music festivals to cross over into the United States. The festival, which started in 2005, marks its debut in America with Friday’s kickoff.
More than 180,000 turned out for Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium, in July. Organizers said they are estimating 50,000 per day for each of the three days in Georgia and plan to welcome people from 75 different countries. There will be 3-D elements on stages with exotic decorations all around.
Top EDM acts including Avicii, David Guetta and Diplo are among 300 internationally renowned DJs and performers that will take to eight different stages. The festival will be held on 500 acres of sprawling farmland along the Chattahoochee River in an unincorporated area of Fulton County, Ga.
Kent said patrons must be 21 to enter the festival. He also said there will be standard body checks, spot checks for cars on arrival, ID checks and undercover security guards patrolling the grounds, especially the areas where 30,000 campers will stay.
Kent said the event organizers are also working with DanceSafe, an organization that provides information on alcohol consumption, drugs and safe sex. With nearly 10 years under their belt, he said they are prepared and understand the difficulty of policing an enormous amount of concert-goers in one place.
“We’ve worked closely with the local hospital,” he said. “We’re set up for anything that happens. In any major event, there could be issues.”
Initially, South Fulton Commissioner William Edwards was skeptical when organizers from TomorrowWorld gave their pitch to bring the popular festival to his small district.
But Edwards believes TomorrowWorld’s goal is to provide a safe and controlled environment in an area that has never had so many people at one time. He said discussions over safety with organizers have been ongoing over the last two years.
“When they first came to me, I thought they were out of their mind,” he said. “But during their pitch, I saw that it’s OK to bring the world to our community….They have the right things in place. They were on key. They were up front. We know what happened at Electric Zoo, but they are prepared to do better.”