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Non-Consensual Sexual Contact at Electronic Dance Music Parties


Non-consensual sexual contact in bars is common, but few studies have focused on the extent of this problem at electronic dance music (EDM) parties, which are growing in popularity. We aimed to estimate prevalence and correlates of non-consensual sexual contact among individuals who attend EDM parties in New York City (NYC). Adults (ages 18–40 years) entering EDM parties in NYC were surveyed in 2018 using time–space sampling. Participants (n = 1005) were asked whether they had experienced unwanted or uninvited sexual contact including unwanted groping, kissing, or touching at an EDM party. We estimate that 15.2% of EDM party attendees in NYC have experienced non-consensual sexual contact at such parties. The majority (62.5%) of those reported that it occurred 1–2 times and 49.1% were usually or always drunk or high during the encounter(s). Almost all women experiencing non-consensual contact (99.5%) were all or mostly touched by men; 38.6% of men were all or mostly touched by other men. Women were at more than twice the odds of reporting non-consensual sexual contact than men (aOR = 2.38, p < .05) with 21.8% of women reporting experiencing non-consensual sexual contact compared to 11.0% of men. Among women, those ages 18–24 were at over twice the odds (aOR = 2.75, p < .05) of experiencing non-consensual sexual contact than those ages 25–40. EDM party environments can increase susceptibility to non-consensual sexual contact. Prevention needs to be geared toward those at risk, and education is needed for those likely to commit non-consensual sexual contact.

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Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers K01DA038800 (PI: Palamar) and R01 DA044207 (PI: Palamar). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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Correspondence to Joseph J. Palamar.

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All procedures performed in the study involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Palamar, J.J., Griffin, M. Non-Consensual Sexual Contact at Electronic Dance Music Parties. Arch Sex Behav 49, 909–917 (2020).

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  • Sexual assault
  • Dance music
  • Drug use
  • Non-consensual sex