A glow-stick cocktail. Image edited by Kevin Rothrock.

The first weekend of July was supposed to be a big one for Moscow's fans of electronic dance music (EDM). Roughly 10,000 people bought tickets to attend the “Outline Festival”—a bonanza featuring more than 50 of the top electronic music artists from Russia, the UK, Germany, and the US. The concert would be held at an old factory, which also featured art installations by urban artists from around the globe.

Ten hours before the festival was scheduled to kick off, however, organizers suddenly posted an update on Facebook announcing that the show had been called off. “Attention!” the notice read. “The festival is canceled due to the reasons beyond our control. Ticket costs will be refunded.” The reason remained unclear, but word quickly spread that Moscow city officials had decided unexpectedly to ban the event.

Yelena Rossokhina, a spokesperson for the Moscow district attorney, told reporters that the festival's organizers failed to get the proper permits to hold the event...

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