Dangerous, Irresponsible and Unnecessary

On the irresponsible coverage of U.K first event, written by Axmed Maxamed

Today we have as a guest writer Axmed Maxamed, Queer Diasporic Somali activist, organizer and music nerd. Axmed was born in Xamar, Somalia where he spent his early years until his family had to flee during the civil war and ended up in the Netherlands. He spent his formative years in Breda in the south of the Netherlands until he moved to Amsterdam. In Amsterdam Axmed co-founded Dance with Pride, a queer initiative which aims to re-unify dance music with its queer roots and has been raisning money for and awareness around grass roots queer initiatives, with the fund-raiser. He co-curated the music compilation Place: The Netherlands which raises funds for and awareness around LGBTQIA+ refugees in the Netherlands. Axmed also co-organises the first Somali LGBTQIA+ gatherings in the Netherlands.

Image description: a screenshot of an instagram post from Circusmusic which shows two djs with one hand in the air infront of a big crowd. The words dangerous, unnecessary and irresponsible are written over the screenshot in bold red letters.

Test events conducted by Fieldlab Events with thousands of people attending each event have been taking place in the Netherlands for a while and a few people, myself included, have been critical of these events for as long as we have been aware of them. And now more similar ‘test events’ are popping up in other countries, including the UK. Most of these events that are similar to Fieldlab Events are dangerous, irresponsible and are unnecessarily putting people’s lives at risk, especially when they take place indoors.

Let me explain how most of these events that are considered to be ‘scientific experiments’ actually work. 

Attendees are required to provide a negative lateral flow test (rapid test) that was taken not longer than 24-hours or 48-hours (depending on the event) prior to the event. At the 2 x 3000 capacity indoor event, attendees did not need to wear a mask or social distance. Attendees are asked, not required, to take a PCR-test within 5 days after the event.Let me start with the lateral flow test (LFT), as they are highly unreliable.

“The MHRA has authorised LFTs to be used as a “red light” test – to find infectious people and order them to self-isolate – but not as a “green light” test to allow people greater freedoms if they test negative.1

In other words, even though the attendees provided a negative test result, chances are high that there were attendees that were infected, which the test missed. And since no one was required to wear a mask or social distance, in addition to the event taking place indoors, chances of transmission is very high.

As epidemiologist Dr. Deepti Gurdasani rightfully points out people who attend events like this one are deliberately being put in a high risk environment, where they can contract disease where there is no treatment, which can result in Long Covid. The programme’s scientific professor Paul Monks even admits that the attendees, who most likely don’t realise how high the risk of transmission is, are being used as guinea pigs.

After the event the attendees go back to their lives, which means that anyone who was infected at the event can transmit to people they come into contact with. Which means that people who gave no consent to being ‘guinea pigs’ are also put at risk.

As Dr. Gurdasani points out “PCR tests within 5 days of the event- this wouldn't pick up many infections that occurred at the event”2 and since this test is optional and there are no strict track and trace measures at place, it is impossible to keep track of the amount of people that are put at risk with just this one event.

Why is this happening when they are putting people’s lives in danger? Well, profit is the short answer! These events both in the Netherlands and the UK are pushed by the event industries that financially benefit from things opening up as soon as possible. 

And are playing on people's feelings, especially young people, who want to ‘get back to normal’ as soon as possible. Even though cases of young people hospitalised with covid-19 are on the rise. Also, professor Monks is Chief Scientific Adviser - Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

These events are of course approved by the government of the country where they take place, which is used by promoters, artists and others that benefit from them as an excuse to elude responsibility. And what both the government in the UK and the Netherlands have in common is that they are right wing neoliberal governments. Since when are we trusting our governments without being critical at the reasoning behind their decisions. Are we forgetting that these governments are built on values rooted in white supremacy and imperialism? 

And music platforms such as DJ Mag, Mixmag and Resident Advisor are ‘reporting’ on these events without any critical thought, while ignoring all the critique coming from the scientific community and people from the music scene, who are reiterating what scientists have been saying for a while now.

Image description: this is a thumbnail of a tweet which you can find via this link

Image description: this is a screenshot of a tweet which you can find via this link

And Dj Mag is even providing misleading information by making it seem as if PCR-test after the event is mandatory3.

Image description: screenshot from an article which you can find here

In reality attendees are only asked to take a PCR-Test *within* 5 days after the event so it is NOT mandatory.

And djs, labels and others with big platforms, share these ‘reportings’ proudly

Image description: this is a thumbnail of a tweet which you can find via this link

Image description: this is a thumbnail of a tweet which you can find via this link

Image description: this is a thumbnail  of a tweet which you can find via this link

The above reports are from 3 days ago and on 20/05 the Telegraph put out an article which contains misleading and contradicting statements. The Headline is that ‘only 15 people tested positive’ according to ‘multiple sources’ and then the reporter continues to falsely claim, just like Dj Mag did, that the PCR-Test after the events were required when they weren’t. And if you read further it becomes evident that it is still not clear how many of those who attended the different events took the PCR-Test within 5 days after the event. In other words, there is nothing that can be concluded from the reporting of the Telegraph and yet, just like 2 days ago all music platforms are copy-pasting it, without any critical note. I’d recommend reading Dr. Gurdasani’s thoughts on the latest reporting.

So I am asking everyone especially those who are profiting from these events, such as those who run the venue, promoters, artists, agents and managers who represent these artists, don't you see your responsibility in putting people's lives at risk? Massive companies such as Live Nation, only care about profit, so we should never look to big promoters like them to do the right thing. Music journalists and music platforms, where is your responsibility in reporting on these events critically? Instead y’all are functioning as PR for events such as Circus. Have you all not learned anything, especially in the past year? Is it still money and upholding white supremacy over people’s lives? 

And let’s not forget that there are still thousands of people dying from covid around the world, especially in countries that have historically been colonized by imperial powers such as the UK and the Netherlands.