A few countries around the world have been able to resume some sort of semblance of normalcy with a combination of social distancing, contract tracing, and wearing masks when in public. Many are still grappling with the longterm effects of COVID-19 on a variety of industries, including live events.
There’s no doubt that tens of thousands of musicians and live entertainment professionals have had their livelihood stripped away due to the pandemic, and everyone needs to make a living to live. But most professionals in the industry have drawn the line at endangering the lives of others for a paycheck. Still, more and more renegade parties are popping up, sometimes played by artists who already command larger booking fees than the smaller artists who are hurting the most.
This past weekend in Mojave, CA (not the same as the Mojave Desert), a group threw a renegade event called ReUnite in place of the cancelled Burning Man this year. (Burning Man itself had no part in this event.) Allegedly run by a man named Rick Silver, the party featured a number of DJs out in the desert with no social distancing or masks in the crowd.
The event has been shared on social media by many industry professionals who have decried the gathering.
Can't decide what's more disgusting; the mere existence of #ReUniteFestival in COVID or that they pretended to be a BLM protest to not get shut down. You people sicken me. You are why we won't have real shows for a long time.
— ill-esha (@ill_esha) August 24, 2020
If you’re throwing, going to, or djing underground parties rn, unfollow me. Thanx ✌🏼 pic.twitter.com/qAXUUFCsrG
— Bitchie Hawtin (@VNSSAofficial) August 23, 2020
so reunite festival was supposed to go down on our property but we canceled on them 2 weeks ago due to covid and everything else going on. we told them they should cancel due to everything but they didn’t listen. sure enough someone passed away last night. my heart 💔
— dj social distancing (@fabssss__) August 22, 2020
— CASCADIA SUMMERS OUT NOW 💫 (@balladsmusic) August 24, 2020
As for the lineup in the tweet above, it’s not clear if everyone listed actually played. Madeaux apparently went to the event but did not play after seeing the reality of what he was booked for; additionally, House Divided provided the following statement: “Hey guys! To clear the air, the desert party is not a show we played nor were we present at. Of course we are eager to get back to performing and doing what we all love, but not until it is safe to do so and we know that now is not that time. Playing a show will never come at the expense of the health and safety of others or our industry which continues to suffer. We hope to see everyone back to work and on the dance floor soon, but until then, we promise to continue to do our part to join the solution by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and condemning large gatherings like this, and we encourage everyone else to do the same.”
Reports of someone passing away at the event have been spread around but haven’t been verified. Cause of death is uncertain, but it’s been rumored that a 50-year-old man passed away due to a failed pacemaker; after minutes of attempted resuscitation, his body was allegedly left on the dancefloor and cordoned off by caution tape. If true, it represents an even greater disregard for people’s lives than throwing the party in the first place.
More information about the event is still eking out gradually after the weekend. Rick Silver has since made his Instagram private, likely after receiving many messages and comments calling him out for his behavior and choice to throw the event. His Twitter is still public.
According to Instagram stories from those in attendance, apparently the party was still going as of three hours ago and may still be continuing today.
See video from the event from @zachscottjaffe below, who was not at the event but screen recorded Instagram stories from those in attendance.
Video 1 pic.twitter.com/afIeQm9qst
— zachtivist (@zachscottjaffe) August 23, 2020