The deaths of two Electric Zoo attendees over the weekend has brought increased scrutiny on the festival's co-founder, Mike Bindra; it turns out he formerly ran a Chelsea nightclub that closed after a series of drug-related deaths and illnesses. Twilo, located on West 27th Street, closed in 2001 after two college students overdosed at the club and allegations emerged that Twilo routinely called private ambulances for patrons who had passed out.
Twilo was notorious for being a great place to score ecstasy, and there were allegedly many instances of patrons having drug-related problems on premises. According to court records obtained by DNAinfo, a bouncer named Joseph Murray said management instructed him “to hide those people" who passed out. He was arrested in 2000 for hiding three unconscious patrons in a dark room—even after paramedics arrived and were searching for them in the club.
"During the three years that I have worked on security inside Twilo, I have seen at least 100 instances in which unconscious or semiconscious patrons have been placed in the safe area by security and left there," Murray said in his affidavit, according to the New York Times.
Bindra, 44, was never charged with any wrongdoing. But in 2001, the city won a court battle to revoke Twilo's liquor license, and it finally closed after six years in business. Bindra went on to run another nightclub in Tribeca, and then launched Made Events with his wife Laura De Palma, producing the first Electric Zoo event in 2009.
The last day of Electric Zoo was canceled on Sunday after Bindra bowed to pressure from the mayor's office in the wake of the deaths of Olivia Rotondo, 20, and Jeffrey Russ, 23. Autopsies have proven inconclusive so far, and the Medical Examiner’s Office is awaiting toxicology and tissue tests to determine their cause of death. It's believed that both Rotondo and Russ took Molly (slang for MDMA) at Electric Zoo. Molly is usually in powdered form, but the Post reports that "cops are investigating whether a 'bad batch' of ecstasy pills was behind the string of overdoses."
Four other Electric Zoo attendees were hospitalized with substance-related issues. As news of the overdoses spread on Saturday, the festival's security implemented changes at the gate. The Times Jon Pareles writes, "My shoulder bag was searched far more thoroughly on the way in than on Friday, and through the day, Made Events representatives made sober announcements onstage urging people to rest, hydrate, get help for anyone in trouble and not to overdo alcohol and drugs — the last of which drew some laughs."