The cancellation of Creamfields Beirut music festival  has gutted local electronica fans, with ticket holders, event planners and partners saying Saturday’s event would have sent a much-needed message of peace. “Lebanon has always struggled to free itself from the weighing shackles it finds itself tied to,” said Jean-Carl Saliba, managing partner of local organizers JK58 at a news conference Friday. “In return JK58 will fight to bring people together through music promising high standards of bigger, bolder and louder events that all of us Lebanese can be proud of.”
Creamfields Beirut was an international extension of the massive three-day music festival Creamfields U.K., which was supplying much of the organizational support and the big-name DJs.
Creamfields U.K. pulled out in the last 48 hours because of Lebanon’s precarious security situation, a spokesperson from JK58 told The Daily Star Friday morning.
“Their sudden decision was taken [Thursday] due to unspecified reasons,” said Saliba. He said ticket holders could pick up their reimbursement from where they bought the tickets.
“We share your disappointment and despair while promising you to never cease our efforts to place Lebanon on the international musical map hoping for better circumstances.”
Creamfields U.K. takes place over three days each summer in Cheshire, England. Over the past 15 years it has expanded internationally and offshoots of the festival have been held in 17 countries across six continents. Creamfields Beirut would have had the capacity for 15,000 people and had planned for 14 hours of music across multiple stages.
In the week leading up to the festival, the team at JK58 launched a campaign to refocus media attention on Creamfields. In an interview with The Daily Star Tuesday evening, Saliba was keen to allay security concerns, saying Creamfields Beirut would be a chance to bring people together.
“A lot of people have reached out and gave us a lot of courage. We have music fans with a peace note. We think that music is a great platform for peace,” he told The Daily Star before the cancellation. “What we want is to bring people together.”
The cancellation comes as fears grow over a pending U.S. strike on Syria, which many believe will lead to more violence in Lebanon. The war in Syria has already led to a string of security incidents in its western neighbor.
Nonessential U.S. Embassy staff were called back to Washington Friday in anticipation of more violence. Last month, bombs in the Beirut southern suburb of Ruwaiss and in the northern city of Tripoli killed nearly 80 people and wounded hundreds.
Rumors that the concert was cancelled began Thursday night, when several of the sponsors were asked to stop setting up stands at the Beirut Waterfront venue. By Friday afternoon, Creamfields had soared to the top of Twitter’s local trending list as word spread of the cancellation.
The viral news drew a mixed response from young people, some berating the U.K. DJs for backing out, while others reminded their followers how there had been bigger national catastrophes of late.
One of the most public and strongly worded responses came from blogger Gino Raidy in a post titled “Five F ? Yous After Creamfields Beirut Was Canceled.”
The first of those expletives was aimed at Lebanese fighters in Syria: “F ? you for ruining our summers, ruining what was left of our country. For making security personal, for arming municipality thugs, for the stray bullets that kill and maim innocent people kilometers away, for the blocked road, for the innocent kidnapped, for the mistreatment of refugees, women and children.”
His anger reflected similar sentiments popping up every minute across social media platforms.
Others were critical of the mass reaction lamenting the cancellation. They argued the security situation and potential U.S.-led strike on Syria were better causes for distress than a night of frivolous dancing.
Many ticket holders and partners in Creamfields Beirut were quick to defend local organizing team JK58, instead criticizing the British promoters and DJs for pulling out just two days before the show.
“We’re very disappointed about Creamfields ... We’re disappointed it was canceled on such short notice,” said Romi Hadar, who handles marketing for White Beirut nightclub, one of the event’s entertainment partners. “But we’re still very supportive of JK58.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by Uberhaus, another event partner.
Both White and Uberhaus at The Garten will be holding events Saturday night themed around beating the so-called “Creamfields blues” and will host those DJs who have already made it to Beirut.
White’s event Saturday will feature Steve Angello, Greek-Swedish co-founder of Swedish Mafia House.
The Facebook page for Uberhaus’ Saturday event said Creamfields had offered an opportunity to break stereotypes about Lebanon.
“This was our chance to prove that stereotypes and preconceived notions have no place on our dance floors,” a post read. “In times of trial and tribulation we have the opportunity to do what we do best.
“We are survivors and nothing can stop us. The show must go on and that is exactly what it’s going to do.”