Writer Ana Monroy Yglesias looks into Tulum, the dark side of dance music culture and why we need to wait until the pandemic is over to dance together again.
We get it, COVID-19 is so 2020 and you’d like to get back to the dancefloor. Your best mate is turning 30 and he’s invited you and the gang to Tulum, Mexico for some R&R (raving and raving, of course). Technically, the parties there are legal. Flights are cheap. There are no requirements to quarantine or get tested before entering Mexico. Should you go?
Let’s be real: we all wish we could have a big, sweaty dance party right now. We all want to shake off the collective trauma we’ve been experiencing as death rates continue to rise, new virus strains emerge and we remain isolated from many of the people we love. But responding to death with activities that will almost certainly lead to illness and more death is not OK.
Plague raves are hazardous and not what the dance community is truly about, so why are they still happening?
There are so many variables that make attending any event or traveling during this pandemic dangerous—not just for you, but everyone you come into contact with during and after. The risk of COVID-19 exposure while traveling in airports and on planes is high (although airlines assure us it’s safe). As USA Today reported in January, “Data from Canadian public health authorities show a near daily occurrence of flights where a passenger may have been infected while flying.” Unlike Canada, the United States does not to release data about specific flights’ exposure, although the CDC reported that over 4,000 flights traveling within and into the U.S. have been exposed. Yikes.
Tulum, as with much of Mexico’s other scenic tourist destinations, has remained more or less open throughout the pandemic as cases and deaths steadily rise, due to the highly criticised hands-off approach President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has taken. Tulum is an unfortunate case study against raving—outdoors or otherwise—during COVID.
The five-day Art With Me festival, DJed by house favourites, gathered over 1,200 partiers in Tulum in November. It was widely cited as an irresponsible super-spreader event (attendees caused further outbreaks back home in New York and Miami), yet it was far from an outlier event. By that time, Tulum had already become a place where those with money to travel there can pretend COVID-19 doesn’t exist. Ironically, the 2020 event was co-sponsored by a AllThingsGood Co, a “new media company that only offers up positive news,” which is really a “good vibes only” Instagram account.
After they caught heat, the organisers said they regretted going forward with the event. “We learned that we cannot control people from adhering to guidelines, or staying away from other venues in the area that did not adhere to our standards…We apologise for any strain this may have caused our already overtaxed healthcare system and front-line workers, and we hope others might learn from our experience.” Less than two months later, a massive New Year’s festival went on as planned in Tulum.