The Midi School of Modern Music's annual music festival, planned for May 1-3, was cancelled. Again. At least, last May, organisers had Sars to blame. This year, it was 'safety'. A new official line that puts 'safety first' - as if it hadn't always been - seems the result of one too many accidents: the Chongqing gas leaks; the Miyun county stampede; coal mine disasters; fireworks factory explosions; the list goes on. In the past, the Midi School has received the implicit consent of local authorities for their annual three-day festival that, last October, drew 45 rock bands and more than 10,000 people per day. But this year, unspoken consent became outright refusal. October's event was a festival in the grandest sense of the word. Stalls lining the street outside the gates featured punks selling homemade t-shirts, metal-heads hawking CDs and DVDs, and the smells of a host of things on sticks being roasted. The grounds were covered in fans dancing, drinking, smoking and just relaxing. The logic behind the cancellation: if the festival were free, the school could not control the numbers of attendees. If the numbers could not be controlled, chaos would naturally ensue - this is rock music, after all. If chaos ensued, well, there was the safety concern. But, more likely, the core worry was that the official in charge of the district would have to resign. So, three days before the festival was to begin, it ended. In a voice almost too cool and collected, Zhang Fan, the festival's organiser, told me, 'Don't dwell on the cancellation.' And indeed, nobody else seemed to be dwelling on the cancellation: not even the several hundred people who had already travelled to the festival grounds. Then I remembered another cancelled Beijing concert. For seven nights in the spring of 2001, rock bands took to a stage set up in front of a shopping mall in Xidan, a few blocks west of Tiananmen Square. One night, the police called off the show. While the foreigners among the crowd angrily demanded a reason for the cancellation, Chinese rock fans quietly filed home. When pressed, they would simply shrug their shoulders and sigh: 'This is China. This kind of thing happens all the time'. Now Mr Zhang has his sights set on the autumn. He said preparations for October's Midi Music Festival are already under way. This just proves how out of touch the authorities are. While many may fear rock music as a harbinger of social instability, the evidence points to the exact opposite conclusion. Mr Zhang's got a point, after all, about not dwelling on the cancellation. I, for one, can't wait until October.