It's supposed to be all about the music, but for many festival-goers, large festivals like Ultra are massive drug-fueled blurs. Now, the National Institute of Justice has released findings from research performed on attendees, indicating that up to 80% of them tested positive for some sort of illicit substance.
Ultra Music Festival and Its Sordid History in Miami
The Ultra Music Festival has been a fixture of the Miami music scene for more than 16 years. It's a big business, too-the Miami Chronicle reports that it typically sells 160,000 tickets. That's around $20 million. Despite these big numbers, though, the city of Miami has decided to cut ties with Ultra.
Last year, Ultra had a number of high-profile incidents. In one situation, a young concert-goer died from an overdose. In other incident last year, a security guard was trampled to death by people trying to push into the concert grounds.
Drug Tests for Concert-Goers
Researchers working with the Center for Forensic Science Research & Education (CFSRE) gave a $20 Dunkin' Donuts gift card to their 145 participants. What did they get in return? Urine. When tested, 80% of the subjects were found to have taken designer drugs.
"[The drug test] proved my point that the festival should not be in downtown Miami or in the city of Miami," said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. "The numbers are very concerning."
The Big Business of Music Festivals
According to the Berklee College Music Business Journal, music festivals like Ultra are a $4.5 billion business globally. As their popularity increases, however, so do the dangers associated with the rampant drug usage found at many (if not most) of the big music festivals.
Pasquale Rotella, the founder of Insomniac (which puts on the Electric Daisy Carnival festival) defended festival promoters, saying that people who organize festivals merely "inherit societal problems."