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That was the ecstasy, so where's the agony we were warned of?

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  1. Terrapinzflyer
    For years we were told ecstasy would ruin our young people. But now those youths are parents, managers, maybe even politicians, and they turned out fine . . . didn’t they, writes SHANE HEGARTY

    LURKING ON YouTube is a Prime Time special on the drug ecstasy that was apparently made in 1993 but looks like it was made many fashion eras ago. It is a museum piece – if the museum is a wall painted with black and sweat and populated by hugging, topless, shape-throwing gurners.

    Any 18-year-old looking at it would surely find it utterly hilarious, something from the years BC (Before Cool). Yet, it represents the recent youth of a generation that doesn’t like the idea that they are out of it yet. But they are.

    The ravers of the early 1990s are the parents, managers, editors, largely responsible adults who will spend the next decade or two at the coalface of a recession. They are, possibly, the politicians, although it’s still hard to imagine that any of our politicians were ever young. And they form, presumably, a large chunk of the one in 20 Irish who say they have taken ecstasy at some point in their lifetimes.

    Naughty, naughty, very naughty: Young people at a rave in the UK in the 1990's. The use of ecstasy in the dance music scene was widespread, but both movements have gone out of fashion. Photograph: Sal Idriss/Redferns


    Why bring this up now? Because there has been widespread coverage of a UK study into the societal and health impact of a range of drugs. Led by a former government adviser, who was sacked last year after challenging the refusal to reclassify banned drugs, the report was published in the Lancet. It looked at nine ways in which drugs could damage the individual and seven in which they harmed others and gave them scores out of 100. Its headline finding, and the thing even the casual reader or viewer will have picked up on, was that alcohol (72) was considered more harmful than heroin (55) or crack (54).

    Drawing less attention were the drugs near the bottom of the rankings, where ecstasy earned a mere nine out of 100. (Magic mushrooms – the focus of relatively recent moral outrage and legal bludgeoning – is ranked least harmful with five points.)

    There was a time when ecstasy would have been the headline act. Fifteen years ago, a claim that it caused relatively little personal or societal trouble, and that its legal standing should reflect that, would have been big news. Now, it’s hardly noticed. That moral panic is as over as The Shamen. (Ask your parents, kids.)

    Contrast that with the tone of Prime Time ’s documentary which, aside from the propensity to flash psychedelic images behind a very unpsychedelic drugs expert, was a fair reflection of the argument at the time. There were predictions of deaths, psychiatric illness and long-term health damage of MDMA, ecstasy in its purest form. And it would be wrong to say it did not lead to casualties. Deaths have been associated with it, although exact figures are elusive. But the UK report hit on something that society seems to have quietly accepted anyway – compared to many other drugs, it is far less harmful. And a generation took part in a social experiment in which ecstasy was a key ingredient – and survived to reminisce fondly about it in the way hippys did about the 1960s.

    The drug is not gone by any means, but its use is down for a host of reasons – among them fashion. The dance scene is not dead either, but it too is no longer what it was – despite a recent report claiming raves are back. Instead, both have slipped gradually into the bubbling cultural pot, and the dance scene – the last truly ground-breaking youth movement – is an amusing clip on YouTube and something for 30- and 40-somethings to daydream about during a dull management meeting.

    Soon, they will be using it as a weapon in their attempts to convince their adult offspring that they once existed at the culture’s cutting edge.

Comments

  1. EscapeDummy


    f
    Is this true in ireland? And fashion being one of the reasons its down? It makes no sense to me. Ravesare alive and well in CA over the last few years, especially compared to the mid-early 2000s (swim is aware it was bigger in the early 2000s/late 90s)... the massives are still filling up and selling out. And ecstasy isn't even close to gone, swim personally knows more people who have tried ecstasy than cocaine, although the national statistics might not tell the same story.
  2. mickey_bee
    Raves are still big in the UK - but it's among a much more select community. In the late 80s/early 90s, ecstasy fuelled dance music raves were THE movement, like 60s hippies, 70s heavy rock, 80s electro etc.

    It's still alive, but nothing like the unified, distinctive movement that was completely intertwined with E, that raving was in the early 90s. And back then ecstasy was MDMA, THE dance drug. Now ecstasy is anything really, and not the only drug on the scene when it comes to raving.
  3. Seaquake
    I'd like to point out that picture is slightly misleading, it kind of suggests they were the people from the 1993 documentary, it is more likely of people from a rave within the last 10 years. that style of crasher-kids/candy ravers was, and maybe still is in places, much more of a 2000ish thing than an early 1990s thing.
  4. TheUnicorn
    The 'rave' scene is still there. Free parties are making a come back, and about time too. My unicorn friend was at Scumoween, police tried to stop us getting them, ended in riots. We still got in and had a good time. Its going to give people more confidence to put on more parties.
  5. cra$h
    The rave scene's still alive, and ecstasy is even more lively, at least in swim's area (philly/burbs). There ain't too many free parties really, but 3/4 weekends a month there's a decent event going on. It's just that the scene got corporate, and now people want money for everything. Hell, it cost a couple thousand just to get a decent DJ to spin.
  6. tashuisclay
    The rave scene here in Ireland has definately noticably slowed down since ten years ago when my friend dropped his first ecstacy pill, this is due to a number of factors,

    1. Police pressure on clubs hosting the raves, namely threatening to oppose their licence renewals due to local media reporting drugs being consumed on the premises (even though said drugs just contributed to the crowd feeling empathy towards each other, not voilence like alcohol can tend to cause, but try telling that to the media and authorities...)
    2. The rise in popularity of cocaine since the beginning of the last decade, which lent itself better to the pub/nightclub scene, not the rave scene.
    3. Probably least importantly, though imo a factor nontheless, Ireland is in a pretty crippling recession since 2007 up to the present, which wouldn't help any possible resumption of the rave scene, as the youth of today have less money in their pockets, notably less spare cash to buy drugs, than the youth of ten years ago when the celtic tiger boom era was active in Ireland, and most people then were never too short on cash, unemployment was very low then. Its rampant now.
  7. mickey_bee
    There's a difference in definitions possibly aswell.

    In the UK people think of raves as generally being completely free, not hosted by any corporation, or acknowledged by the police. That's definetly what they were in there peak.

    Whereas in the US, from crash's comments especially, swim get's the impression the term 'rave' refers to much more corporate and sanctioned events, that in the UK wouldn't be referred to as raves, but more just as club nights, or the particular name of each event.

    Raves in the UK are inherently un-sanctioned, free events. And there's been a distinct decline in them since the heyday of E's in the late 80s early 90s.
  8. questforstarfish
    Wow, very interesting!! I'll send this to a few of my friends; ecstasy has one of the worst reputations for being an intense physically- and mentally-damaging drug, but if you actually look at the evidence (which most people don't) it's completely skewed and lacking. I'm excited to see new research coming out that actually defends it, because the things drugs like this can do for a responsible person go so unrealized!
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