from: "What's the Rush"
by Joe Field
Academic studies on cultural trends (which are few) generally point to 'rave culture' becoming incorporated into society following the Criminal Justice Bill of 1994: the government effectively moving the problem into nightclubs and sanctioned events, where it would be easier to regulate and control. This has had the effect of making clubbing 'trendy' to the point of it becoming a cultural phenomenon. Yet by taking the partying masses away from the freedom that sound-systems in the countryside provided the dance-music scene has become more restrictive and elitist. No longer can we dance in the fields with dogs running at our bare feet - instead we must adhere to codes of dress and behaviour; we must arrive and leave at set times and, worst of all, we must listen to a pasteurised, diluted form of the music we once loved (author's opinion, but a valid one). Admittedly, it is far more convenient to pay the door fee at the local club than it ever was to haul a load of mates halfway across the country - but the key word here is 'freedom'.
Today's clubbers had the most noble forefathers in the form of the 'new age travellers': men and women who shed blood for people's right to party in the beautiful landscapes this country has to offer. Beanfield at Stonehenge in 1985 typified their plight - their homes, livelihood and animals were under threat of destruction by the police from then onwards. Their strength, solidarity, devotion, hard work and cunning helped to unify people in the fight for freedom - without them 'rave culture' as we know it wouldn't exist. The travellers had the fire within them to stick two fingers up at the government, though they knew they would have to face armies of brutal policemen.
Yet if you look around the average 'dance-music' oriented nightclub their legacy is severely difficult to find: how many of the pasty-faced students or uber-fashion victims gurning away to the latest pop-house today are aware of the travellers' struggle over the last 20 years? In short, where is the anarchy that was associated with acid-house and techno?
In addition, the monopoly of the market by 'pills' is creating a culture of 'buy-before-you-try' - in my opinion the current fervour for all things pill-like is high on enthusiasm and distinctly lacking in knowledge. Of course there are many people out there who know what Ecstasy should really look, taste and feel like, but I doubt if many of the thousands of weekend clubbers in Britain are really aware of exactly what chemicals they are ingesting.
It's possible to argue that 'if it feels good, do it', and I know myself that horse tranquiliser and speed is a potent mix which can give the taker feelings which could be interpreted as a 'high', but it is certainly not MDMA Ecstasy - which it's often sold as. Therefore I argue for education and regulation, not by the state, but by experienced individuals: if you are truly knowledgeable on drug-use my advice is to befriend a group of young but enthusiastic pill/pot/acid/coke-heads (delete as applicable) and teach them everything you know.
If you know how to cultivate a drug, pass the skills and knowledge on. More importantly, though, teach them to appreciate the drug properly - that is, teach them the spiritual benefits of the substance, and encourage them to try the drug in varied environments and situations and not just down at the local 4/4 factory. Get them reading Burroughs, Thompson, Huxley and Castaneda.
Preach the benefits of under-dosing: the subtle ways a drug can make its presence known, the joy of being just high enough to get a 'rush' but not so high that you become confused with excitement. Instill in your students the need to learn, teach them to approach psychedelics as a warrior on a spiritual journey, help them to focus on internal signals during drug-use, not external stimuli (fancy lighting rigs and whistling/shouting/dementedly-dancing fools do not make a good night out).
I advocate a gentle, subliminal method of influence as it is best to start small: try taking a sheet of acid to a mundane club you know well and sell them to clubbers who can't find any pills. After a few weeks of doing this you will have created a ripple of psychedelic awareness among the local clubbing community, which may eventually lead to a shift in the whole scene.
I'm aware that some of this may sound like a 'things were better back then' rant to the casual reader, but I do not dispute the fact that clubbing is more popular today than it ever was, or that there are some great events out there. Personally, I have turned my back on clubbing to pursue my love of all things reggae: people who go to reggae nights usually have a real love of the music, and don't sweat and gurn all over the place. Apart from free parties (which are getting harder to arrange) I still test the water with the odd house night, and venture to occasional events, but I find that they generally are crap.
For example, without Jeff Mills' mammoth techno set (my faith was reaffirmed briefly) Tribal Gathering 2003 would have been an expensive and rubbish inner-city funfair that was full of coppers, had no beer and stank of piss and cheap burgers. It could be argued that music can transcend all the negative factors that modern, corporate clubbing throws up, but I feel that the consumer is being swindled - and, in fact, should the enjoyment of music and dance really be within the realm of big business?! To me it was an insult to use the licence, as Tribal Gathering used to be a guarantee of a quality event, which travellers were involved in - now it has become a corporate, capitalist money-spinner which really fails to grasp the essence of a good party.
My opinion is that this is indicative of clubbing on the whole, that the revolutionary aspect of acid-house, etc. has been lost to the marketing men (this relates to everyone who produces/sells half-hearted products in the clubbing industry). A once exciting, varied and unifying scene has been swallowed whole by the state and big business and spat out as a lifestyle package. The power was once in the hands of the people; those who had the equipment, skills and backbone to put on a party, did.
Today, choosing where to spend their money is the most power the average shmo gets to exercise. Youth culture has had a tradition of rebellion and has often pushed both musical and social boundaries to their limits; the Teddy Boys, Mods, Skinheads, Rudeboys, Punks and Hippies all went against the grain and allowed the participants freedom of expression and a sense of identity.
Looking back at such movements, it is hard to see how modern 'club culture' is pushing any boundaries at all: the music scene has become slightly stagnant in the last few years, and clothing is inspired by whatever is the height of fashion that week. (Mullets, wristbands and sleeveless T-shirts - 'retro fashion' instead of creativity and originality.)
It is essential that music producers become braver for the scene to progress. It follows that individuals who 'club' must also try to be more daring: they should lose the mullets, become politically aware, take drugs other than 'pills' and try to experience the bits of the world that mankind has not forged. For those who are inclined to subvert, do everything you can - our culture has been pilfered, therefore pro-active re-appropriation is needed: take drugs (and music!) back underground and away from the hands of the state. Unity and anarchy in the face of fear and apathy, love and devotion in the production of all mind-expanding substances and music associated therewith - if we lead, they will follow.
Remember, your country(side) needs YOU.
from: Sex Drugs and Techno Music
by: Jason Sullum
Signal of Misunderstanding
The current worries about raves in some ways resemble the fears once symbolized by the opium den. The country's first anti-opium laws, passed by Western states in the late 19th century, were motivated largely by hostility toward the low-cost Chinese laborers who competed for work with native whites. Supporters of such legislation, together with a sensationalist press, popularized the image of the sinister Chinaman who lured white women into his opium den, turning them into concubines, prostitutes, or sex slaves. Although users generally find that opiates dampen their sex drive, "it was commonly reported that opium smoking aroused sexual desire," writes historian David Courtwright, "and that some shameless smokers persuaded 'innocent girls to smoke in order to excite their passions and effect their ruin.' " San Francisco authorities lamented that the police "have found white women and Chinamen side by side under the effects of this drug -- a humiliating sight to anyone who has anything left of manhood." In 1910 Hamilton Wright, a U.S. diplomat who was a key player in the passage of federal anti-drug legislation, told Congress that "one of the most unfortunate phases of the habit of smoking opium in this country" was "the large number of women who [had] become involved and were living as common-law wives or cohabiting with Chinese in the Chinatowns of our various cities."
Fears of miscegenation also played a role in popular outrage about cocaine, which was said to make blacks uppity and prone to violence against whites, especially sexual assault. In 1910 Christopher Koch, a member of the Pennsylvania Pharmacy Board who pushed for a federal ban on cocaine, informed Congress that "the colored people seem to have a weakness for it. -- They would just as leave rape a woman as anything else, and a great many of the southern rape cases have been traced to cocaine." Describing cocaine's effect on "hitherto inoffensive, law abiding negroes" in the Medical Record, Edward Huntington Williams warned that "sexual desires are increased and perverted."
Marijuana, another drug that was believed to cause violence, was also linked to sex crimes and, like opium, seduction. Under marijuana's influence, according to a widely cited 1932 report in The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, "sexual desires are stimulated and may lead to unnatural acts, such as indecent exposure and rape." The authors quoted an informant who "reported several instances of which he claimed to have positive knowledge, where boys had induced girls to use the weed for the purpose of seducing them." The federal Bureau of Narcotics, which collected anecdotes about marijuana's baneful effects to support a national ban on the drug, cited "colored students at the Univ. of Minn. partying with female students (white) smoking [marijuana] and getting their sympathy with stories of racial persecution. Result pregnancy." The bureau also described a case in which "two Negroes took a girl fourteen years old and kept her for two days in a hut under the influence of marijuana. Upon recovery she was found to be suffering from syphilis."
Drug-related horror stories nowadays are rarely so explicitly racist. A notable and surprising exception appears in the 2000 film Traffic, which is critical of the war on drugs but nevertheless represents the utter degradation of an upper-middle-class white teenager who gets hooked on crack by showing her having sex with a black man. Whether related to race or not, parental anxieties about sexual activity among teenagers have not gone away, and drugs are a convenient scapegoat when kids seem to be growing up too fast.
The link between drugs and sex was reinforced by the free-love ethos of the '60s counterculture that embraced marijuana and LSD. In the public mind, pot smoking, acid dropping, and promiscuous sex were all part of the same lifestyle; a chaste hippie chick was a contradiction in terms. When Timothy Leary extolled LSD's sex-enhancing qualities in a 1966 interview with Playboy, he fueled the fears of parents who worried that their daughters would be seduced into a decadent world of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. The Charles Manson case added a sinister twist to this scenario, raising the possibility of losing one's daughter to an evil cult leader who uses LSD to brainwash his followers, in much the same way as Chinese men were once imagined to enthrall formerly respectable white girls with opium.
The alarm about the sexual repercussions of "club drugs," then, has to be understood in the context of warnings about other alleged aphrodisiacs, often identified with particular groups perceived as inferior, threatening, or both. The fear of uncontrolled sexual impulses, of the chaos that would result if we let our basic instincts run wild, is projected onto these groups and, by extension, their intoxicants. In the case of "club drugs," adolescents are both victims and perpetrators. Parents fear for their children, but they also fear them. When Mayor Daley warned that "they are after all of our children," he may have been imagining predators in the mold of Fu Manchu or Charles Manson. But the reality is that raves -- which grew out of the British "acid house" movement, itself reminiscent of the psychedelic dance scene that emerged in San Francisco during the late '60s -- are overwhelmingly a youth phenomenon.
The experience of moving all night to a throbbing beat amid flickering light has been likened to tribal dancing around a fire. But for most people over 30, the appeal of dancing for hours on end to the fast, repetitive rhythm of techno music is hard to fathom. "The sensationalist reaction that greets every mention of the word Ecstasy in this country is part of a wider, almost unconscious fear of young people," writes Jonathan Keane in the British New Statesman, and the observation applies equally to the United States. For "middle-aged and middle-class opinion leaders -- E is a symbol of a youth culture they don't understand."
This is not to say that no one ever felt horny after taking MDMA. Individual reactions to drugs are highly variable, and one could probably find anecdotes suggesting aphrodisiac properties for almost any psychoactive substance. And it is no doubt true that some MDMA users, like the woman quoted in Cosmo, have paired up with sexual partners they found less attractive the morning after. But once MDMA is stripped of its symbolism, these issues are no different from those raised by alcohol. In fact, since MDMA users tend to be more lucid than drinkers, the chances that they will do something regrettable are probably lower.
Monday, June 18, 2007
from: "What's the Rush"