Ecstasy And Raves Essay, Research Paper
“Ecstasy and Raves: The Exploited Underworld”
I waited in line for nearly an hour and a half. I finally reached the entrance and I was asked to raise my arms, while I was patted down and my pockets, socks and cigarettes were checked. I felt like I was about to meet the President, with the intense security. As I finally entered the club, the suspense began to rise. This was my first time at a rave party. I looked around and saw people dressed in colorful, bright clothing, holding glow sticks and bottles of water. The music was incredible: loud, energetic and throbbing with bass. The party was called “Adrenaline,” and lasted until 8:00 a.m. People were dancing all around and the place was packed. It was extremely difficult to make a trip to the bathroom or attempt to buy a drink. My friends and I decided to check out the place before began our journey into the rave scene. Every room had a different D.J., which made this party particularly diverse. As we are walking through, at least ten different people, all males, asked me if I was looking for any pills. My answer was no, for all of the above, but to my amazement these people never gave up. I couldn’t believe the risk the “ravers” were taking to make some cash. My curiosity began to get the best of me…. I am looking around and everyone is completely happy, smiling, hugging, kissing- it was unbelievable the amount of content in a club filled with about 5,000 plus people. I wanted to be apart of this trend and know the happiness that they knew. At one point a girl approached me, wearing a pink wig, bunny ears, tons of creative makeup and an outfit that was colorful and bright. I asked her if she was on “E” and she nodded without hesitation. I asked her, “ How do you feel?” All she could say was, “I’m in ecstasy, and my sense of touch is times one thousand!” She grabbed my hand and began to massage it and the whole time she consistently kept a smile on her face. I stood there in amazement attempted to understand how this girl was feeling, but it obviously never happened. At that point, I wanted to know more. What is this drug, and how has this counter-culture filled with “ecstasy” entered our mainstream?
Many questions arise when talking about a new drug such as ecstasy. What is it? Where did it come from? What are the effects, and most of all is it Harmful? Ecstasy is a drug that contains some hallucinogenic properties and is closely related to amphetamines. The chemical name is MDMA (3, 4- methylenedioxymethamphetamine). It is also called E, XTC, Adam, Euphoria, X, MDM and Love Doves. Ecstasy is usually sold in a tablet or gelatin capsule form and taken orally in doses of 50 to 200 mg. The drug comes in many different shapes and sizes, and colors depending on the manufacturer. Ecstasy can produce a mild intoxication, a strong sense of pleasure, and feelings of euphoria that last for four to six hours. (Swan, 1)
MDMA was first produced in 1914 by pharmaceutical researchers as an appetite suppressant. In the 1970’s a small number of psychotherapists in the United States began to use MDMA as a supplement to treatment. MDMA was also used by Baghwan followers and spread to Europe. The setting for its use was different there. In the 1980’s MDMA, or soon acknowledged as Ecstasy, gained popularity as a recreational drug and began to be associated with “raves.” (Long, 3) Raves are often held in abandoned warehouses or outdoor locations that can hold large amounts of people. With its distinctive “techno” or “trance” music and all night dancing, raves have become to mainstream form of entertainment for teenagers and young adults in Europe, Canada, and the United States. (Long, 3-4)
The ready availability of ecstasy is a newer a phenomenon. “E” enjoyed a brief spurt of mainstream use in the 1980’s, before the government outlawed it in 1985. Until recently, it remained abundant only on the margins of society- in clubland, in gay America, in lower Manhattan. (Cloud, par. 1) In the past year or so, ecstasy has returned to the heartland, grower more and more popular everyday.
Ecstasy remains a “niche” drug according to statistics. The number of people who use it once a month remains so small- less than 1% of the population. Although the numbers are currently small, ecstasy use is growing. Eight percent of U.S. high school seniors say they have tried it at least once, where it was on 5.7% in 1997. Nationwide, customs officers have already seized more ecstasy this fiscal year, more than 5.4 million hits, than in all of last year. (Cloud, par.5)
Ecstasy has slowly made its reputation into the rave scene. A rave is a party- often an all night- long party, which contains some form of electronic or techno music and can be as small as 25 people or larger than 25,000. Raves have traditionally been held in venues without permits or permission, giving them an outlaw appeal. Today, however, there are an increasing amount of legal rave parties, in places such as New York and our very own Washington, D.C. Ravers often wear loose, wide-legged jeans that flare out at the bottom and accessories from childhood, such as pacifiers, dolls and suckers. (Farley, par. 9)
Even though raves have been around for a decade, the rituals, visuals, and sounds associated with the rave scene have finally started to have a potential influence modern day culture such as pop music, and advertising. Even movies such as “Go,” and the documentaries “Better Living Through Circuitry and Rise,” a study of the rave scene in New Orleans, have had an affect on the exploitation on ecstasy and rave parties. (Cloud, 4) How has this counter-culture entered our mainstream? One reason is growing amount of people who regularly go to raves. Absorbing the fashion, the music and a lot of the feelings associated with raves, many of these party -goers have become a walking advertisement for the rave culture. Of course it’s not all glow sticks, shiny pants, and electronic music. The downside of the rave culture is the increased use of rave-associated drugs, the most common of which is ecstasy. According to “party-kids” raves started out as drug-free parties, and were a simple night of dancing and music. Now, they have become directly associated with these drugs causing many problems with the entire scene.
Until recently, raves were mostly an underground phenomenon, but almost quickly as they started, raves turned into the next big trend. What created such a demand for these parties? After researching, nothing in particular exploited the rave scene and brought out in to the open. More and more young adults became interested in the music and intrigued by the all-night demand to dance. When raves started in Western Europe, in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s, the environment was mainly drug free. (Randall, 1992b) Ecstasy slowly made its way off the streets and began to take a toll in the clubs. Especially in the raves, because of its lengthy parties and its ultimate stamina of energy. As MDMA began to gain popularity in the raves, the parties became more and more exploited because of the dangers of drug use in a club and of course being it is illegal. When the trend made its way completely over to the states, many of the “ravers,” remained drug free while others abused substances such as “E.” The abundance of this drug in the clubs caused raids, busts, and deaths. The American people eventually caught on, and it caused much controversy. As any trend, the younger generation became intrigued and jumped on the bandwagon. Generation X has taken this culture of dancing and music and turned it into a place of drugs, which has given the rave scene a bad name. As stated earlier, raves are publicized heavily now. Through television, radio and flyers, and buildings and clubs are even rented out to hold these parties. Is this promoting the use of drugs? Some would agree and some would not. As Ben Wilke states, “ No matter what clubs you go to there are going to be drugs. Real party kids don’t do drugs, we go to dance and have a good time.” (Farley, 31) So should raves still be allowed, or should they be shut down because of the risk many young adults are taken nowadays with MDMA?
As far as shutting down the rave scene, it is not going to happen any time soon. Drugs are going to remain everywhere, it’s just that raves have began to become more and more popular so the media is attacking it because of its fresh background. Many clubs have taken precautions to try and cut down on the use of drugs, especially ecstasy in the rave scene. For example, when I attended “Adrenaline,” at the club Edge, I was asked to take everything out of my pockets, cigarette box checked, and fully patted down, front and back by a female security guard. Many kids with Vicks inhalers (it is said to increase your roll) were asked to leave them at the entrance and other sorts of rolling gear such as Vicks vapor rub, and personal bottles were prohibited inside the club. Washington D.C., must be very careful right now with drugs entering in the club. Club Buzz was raided last year and drugs from ecstasy to nitric oxide were found on the premises. The clubs in the area and all over the United States have taken a stand in fighting against recreational drugs such as ecstasy crossing the threshold of the entrance. It is imperative that attempts to eliminate the drug use as much as possible. Alan Leshner, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse states, “These are not just benign, fun drugs, they carry serious short term and long term dangers.” Many compare this “ecstasy era” (Randall, 1992b) to the crack-cocaine problem of the 80’s. But those like Leshner who fight on the war against drugs overstate these dangers occasionally- and users usually understate them. The main reason ecstasy is so fascinating, and dangerous to antidrug crusaders, is that it appears to be a safer drug than heroin and cocaine, at least in the short run, and appears to have more therapeutic benefits.
Ecstasy is an interesting drug for its history, its action on the brain, and the culture and myth that it has created. But as with many recreational drugs and drugs of addiction, the consequences of the “enjoyable high” are plentiful and severe. More experimentation with human subjects is necessary to gain a clearer picture to all the effects of MDMA on the human body. Still, rave enthusiasts claim that raves are still about the music and the dancing and that drugs aren’t the driven force. Music or medication, the rave trend doesn’t seem to be losing any steam and could go strongly throughout the millennium.
1.) Cloud, John. “The Lure of Ecstasy.” Time 5 June 2000: 27
2.) “E for Ecstasy” by Nicholas Saunders. http://www.ecstasy.org
3.) “Ecstasy” by Norman Swan. http://www.abc.net/au/quatum/poison/ecstasy/html
4.) Farley, Christopher John. “Rave New World.” 5 June 2000: 34
5.) Randall, T. “Rave” scene, ecstasy use, leap Atlantic. Journal of the American Medical Association. 268: 1507 (1992)b.
6.) “The History of Ecstasy” by Karen Long. http://www.sano.arf.org/geninfo/ecstasy/html
7.) “The History of E.” http://www.homestead.com/bongs/XTC.history.home