As countries across the Global North vaccinate their populations against Covid-19 and exit pandemic-related restrictions, the dance music industry is entering a moral and ethical quagmire. Many want to claw back a sense of normalcy, which includes attending clubs and festivals. Yet while the majority have stayed at home for the last 18 months, a minority have continued to party — and it’s divided the industry.
Often named “plague raves”, in-person events have been the subject of heated online discussions. Governments have been criticised for putting attendees and local populations at risk, and DJs have been criticised for travelling to perform. Artists and promoters have been framed as legitimising potentially dangerous gatherings, particularly in countries with low vaccination rates and poor healthcare infrastructure.
As vaccine programmes roll out across the Global North and stall in the Global South, what responsibilities do those from vaccine-rich countries have when booking, performing at, and travelling to in-person events in vaccine-poor countries? Now, with borders functioning like steel doors, the dance music industry, with its reliance on international tourism, needs to ask itself how it will operate in pandemic times — and in few places are these questions more pertinent than in India.