Early on a Saturday afternoon at the Echoplex in Echo Park, members of the LA Eastside electronic music community are eating pizza in the dark with a group of about 100 individuals having some of the most authentic real talk ever uttered in a nightclub about mental health and addiction. This community meeting, hosted by artist Brittney Scott with the help of Sirah, Morgan Freed of Emo Nite, co-creators of Facing Addiction Garrett Hade and Ryan Hampton, and Adam Weiss of Ham on Everything, is the first of its kind and set a pretty incredible tone for this new and most necessary initiative coming out of one faction of LA’s DIY nightlife scene. The event hosts spread the word about the meeting with a single flyer circulating across social media platforms with information on what to expect from the meeting, when in reality no one (including the event organizers themselves) had any idea what to expect.
The sudden death of Lil Peep hit home hard in the LA party scene, in particular amongst LA’s Eastside Emo Nite crew (Peep dropped a collab called “Emo Nite” with Little Pain in 2016 and has performed the legendary Echoplex parties) and was the genesis of this meeting. In addition to the specifics of avoiding, recognizing, and treating overdose, much of the conversation centered around how we keep the conversation around self-care going on social media in a fun and authentic way. Brittney opened the meeting with poignant personal commentary about the way sad boy and girl culture plays out online, how bragging about being depressed on social media is cool, but also how empowered she is by tweeting about seeing a therapist and balancing her life.
“I wanted to take this conversation out of the internet echo chamber to see that we’re all here and know we’re a community,” Brittney explained. “I want us to be accountable for each other.” As someone who’s sat in many 12-step meetings, I found this 90-minute conversation and presentation to be far more relatable. The meeting was led by an equal mix of fully sober folks in recovery and non-sober individuals who want to achieve better personal balance. Emo Nite co-founder Morgan Freed, who is sober and in recovery, discussed his experience tackling recovery. “I didn’t get sober to not have fun, to stop being around people and doing things in life,” he said. “It’s about how we handle ourselves and how we make our community a safe space, having everyone here makes me feel like there’s solution; we’re all here for a reason.” Even if that reason is simply to make empathy, personal responsibility, and mutual accountability a cool point of focus within our culture, I would argue it’s still a most worthy and necessary cause because it’s acknowledging what needs to change.
The bottom line: if we as a culture want to keep having fun, we have to take care of our individual selves and each other, which is going to be a lot more doable if it’s a conscious group effort. At times the meeting was funny and other times extremely serious, but everyone was ultimately positive and no one seemed afraid to ask questions. The ideas exchanged adhered to no stringent requirements on how to live life and thus invited an extremely open dialogue that fundamentally acknowledged there’s no one right way to live, which to me makes the entire situation infinitely more accessible for most people.
Towards the end, Sirah pointed out the different breakout opportunities available following the meeting depending on what you’re personally passionate about be it helping folks in recovery, fighting to change the system from the political side, harm-reduction educational initiatives, or just keeping the conversation going IRL and on social media by offering to listen to anyone struggling. She also acknowledged that we can’t all do everything, but our passions are indicators of where we can most be of service to the community.
I left feeling empowered and deeply connected to the people I’m normally just raging face with — not that there’s anything wrong with raging face, as long as we take care of ourselves and each other while we’re at it! That statement pretty much sums up the thesis of this meeting and the new initiatives coming out of it in a nutshell, and we’re insanely proud to be part of this. A ton of resources were thrown out in the context of the meeting, which are listed below along with the social media accounts of the hosts, who strongly encouraged anyone in need to reach out. If self-care, boundaries, and mutual accountability are cool now, then let’s all be Miles Davis (😎) together.
Thanks to @jimdizzy for the photos.