Inside talk on drugs and safety in the rave culture

Dancers and lasers

Photo by Jonathan Lidbeck

Between raging electronic music and hot sweaty dancing bodies, raves have developed a reputation for rampant drug experimentation. Festivals and raving is often associated with illicit drugs. A rave is active when many people gather to dance, often to live music, and the genre of choice is EDM.

In recent years, raving has sparked interests both nationally and internationally and has been gradually increasing its audience. Controversially, raving has been attracting negative attention due to the risky nature of ravers experimenting with drugs while attending festivals. Stories about overdoses and even death are not uncommon in the rave communities.

On Sept. 23, Troyboi of the Bohemian Dub Orchestra and guest DJs Slumberjack and Daktyl had a mini-rave at the Vogue Theatre. We interviewed three people at the mini-rave about their opinion on drugs and drug safety in raves and festivals.

Q: As someone who uses drugs in this environment, how do you come across the drugs that you will use?

Jessica Bird: I don’t trust the drugs at events, because of fentanyl. I get mine before, and then sneak them in with these (motioning to her breasts).

Aiden Martin: Buy them before and sack ‘em. (Meaning: Buy them before and sneak them in by placing them under your genitalia). Although I’ll sometimes buy [at events] if it’s a long event. I know a lot of guys who can hook us up.

Brian Keller: I got it here from some chick up there (he gestured to the middle of the dancing crowd) but I got a buddy I normally pick up from.

Is there a difference between drugs you get while at a venue and the drugs you get beforehand?

Martin: The price. Its normally cheaper to bring your own s***, but who really cares about the price when you want to get f***ed.

What is the extent of drug control at raves? Is there too much security or not enough?

Bird: There is none.

Martin: Security is a joke. They only search you for s*** like guns or knives. If they find some on you, you’re f***ed, but they don’t really look for them on you.

Keller: There is never any control. They know what we do here. No one gives a f***.

• • •

People were openly doing drugs and smoking weed. People were also openly smoking cigarettes and it was easy to obtain. When I went to the bathroom to grab tissue to wipe sweat off my face, there was this one dude yelling loudly that he was on “Addie, K, Molly, Mush, and Coke” (Adderall, ketamine, MDMA, mushrooms, and cocaine.) I also was watching Snapchat and saw someone filming a guy outside the theatre who looked like he was going to overdose. He had his head on his knees and some girl was rubbing his head.

• • •

Have you ever witnessed someone having a negative reaction to drugs?

Bird: Yeah, I went this forest thing a month ago and saw this dude OD. I’ve also known people who have died, but not at raves.

Martin: We went to FVDED together and we both saw all those people in wheelchairs. Its scary dude.

ADD: A few buddies of mine died recently. (He looked sad and this was the last question we asked him. He got up and gave me the hug and walked away smoking a cigarette.)

Do you think festivals/raves are well equipped to ensure drug safety?

Bird: No, not at all.

Martin: Depends. This one was s***, like who f***in’ charges $3 for water? I’ve been to festivals where they have safe-space tents and free water, so it all depends.  The bigger and longer the event, the more they care about safety.

Do you do anything to prepare yourself for any kind of drug emergency?

Martin: I get my stuff from people I trust, and I go with friends.

What do you think festivals need to do to ensure your safety?

Martin: Have those fancy ass needles, the ones that stop you from ODing. I don’t know what they’re called though. (They are called Naloxone kits.)

• • •

Despite the image that raves have for being infested with dangerous drugs and people doing everything they can to experiment, there were a lot of sober people at the Troyboi concert. Some people only drank alcohol, while some stayed sober. Although there was a lot of drug use, and people probably ended up sick or hurt, not everyone does it. Security was present, but mostly helped people find lost items, and we saw no one kicked out.

Edited by Joseph Tjosvold

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