Baltimore Shuts Down Long-Running Rave Festival

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2012 Starscape attendees

If you thought that raves were a thing of the 90s, that’s probably because you never went to Baltimore’s Starscape festival, an overnight celebration of electronic music that’s been taking place in Fort Armistead Park since 1999. But with each year’s numbers of arrests and medical emergencies growing, the festival was seeming like less of a good time, and more of a liability. And so the city is pulling the plug on the strobe lights, throwing out the boxes of glow sticks, and ending Starscape’s 14-year run.

The immediate impetus for not renewing the festival’s permit was a scathing report from the city’s fire marshal. During this year’s festival, EMT crews from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel County found themselves “continuously” responding to calls from the park. “If not for the intervention of our EMS, kids would have died,” said city fire marshal Raymond O’Brocki. (Temperatures were in the 90s the day of the festival, and free water was not available.) The city ended up sending six medic units, three EMS units, two engine units, two hazardous materials units, one truck unit and one rescue boat to the party — and that’s not even counting the crews from the counties. With the city fire department underfunded and overstrained, the festival was “too much of a tax on the city,” according to city councilman Edward Reisinger.

While this year’s festival provoked outrage from city officials, the festival’s been much less problematic in recent years. By many accounts, 2012’s problem was overcrowding. The festival’s permit was for 7,500 attendees; close to 14,000 actually showed up. Some festivalgoers with tickets were denied entrance due to overcrowding; others snuck in over the fence.

“I think the event went fine for the number of people we had at the event, and the fact that it’s a music event,” promoter Lonnie Fisher told the Baltimore Sun. “Young adults at any music event do certain things that put themselves in jeopardy.” According to the Starscape Facebook page, promoters are in talks with city officials about new venues, and urges fans to “stay tuned for the big Starscape announcement which should come later this year”

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