A few years ago I used to go to raves. Those were the days.
We’d drive over and park in a huge, grassy field. We’d join the queue to get into the venue and chat nervously with the people around us. We’d eventually get to the gates, show our tickets, get frisked by the security and enter the warehouse (or an even larger field, depending on the rave). The bang of the bass would split our ears. The piercing tones of the whistles would make them bleed. We’d go over to the little shop and get our supply of glow sticks, head over to the main area (or whichever tent if it was an outdoor rave) and dance pretty much continuously for the next 12 hours. Knackered, we’d leave at 8am the next morning, find our car and drive home, struggling to stay awake. It was all good, clean fun.
We’d all meet up at a friend’s house and do a stock take. One of the guys would have been to his dealer with the money he’d collected from the rest and pick up a bag of pills. Mostly e’s. And this was in the days when ecstasy actually contained MDMA (rather than drain cleaner and dog worming pills like today). We’d split them out and everybody would have their own method of hiding them about their person so a search wouldn’t turn them up. My personal favourite was in the lining of my jacket. We’d drive over and park in a huge, grassy field. We’d join the queue to get into the venue and chat nervously with the people around us, some might take their first pill so that by the time we got in they’d have “come up”. Everybody’s nervous in case they get a strip search and arrested for possession. We’d eventually get to the gates, show our tickets, get frisked by the security and enter the warehouse (or an even larger field, depending on the rave). We’d all be buzzing and we’d go over to the little shop and get our supply of glow sticks, then head over to a secluded spot. Those taking them would take a pill and then we’d all have a wander around to get familiar with the place and see what the layout was like. About 15 minutes later everybody would scatter and probably not see each other until the end. We’d dance pretty much continuously for the next 12 hours and leave, Knackered at 8am the next morning. There would be silence in the car as everybody would be falling asleep and suffering from a night of hard dancing and drug taking.
Looking back now I have only scattered memories of the raves I attended. I went to a New Year’s one and my only memory of the whole night is on the stroke of midnight when they played “Auld Lang Syne” over the sound system – the lights were amazing. But I had a fantastic time at the time. The atmosphere in a place where everybody – and I mean everybody – is on ecstasy is like heaven on earth. You didn’t need to take drugs to bask in how the world should be. Everybody is your best mate, everybody wants to give you a hug, everybody asks the big three (“what’s your name?”, “where are you from?” and “what are you on?”) and everybody is having the time of their lives. Of course, everyone would have eyes like saucers which served as a reminder as to why they were all so happy. You compare that to a boozy night on the town and a nightclub full of testosterone-fuelled blokes spoiling for a fight. And alcohol is the legal drug?
Of course, none of it was real. As soon as people came down they were back to their miserable selves (albeit after a few days recovery). Reality would set in and we’d be looking forward to the next one. I’d love to go back to that time and go to one again, they were fantastic. But I couldn’t do it now. I’m just too damn old! My body wouldn’t be able to take it, drugs or not. And besides, I’m just not interested in drugs any more. It was a passing phase and best left there.
But I’ll tell you something. A hell of a lot of people do take recreational drugs these days. And not just your common working class types – they’re professionals like lawyers, software developers, even footballers (allegedly). And drug use won’t go away (look at alcohol for example, it wasn’t so long ago when it was as illegal as cocaine). But I don’t think it’s a problem. If people want to take drugs and have possible long-term problems, that should be their choice, so long as it only affects themselves. I don’t need somebody to tell me what’s right and wrong (unless I’m a kid in which case I don’t know any better). But I’m 28 years of age, I can work it out for myself. If there’s one thing that pisses me off about modern life it’s a cotton wool society that is averse to any risk. I don’t smoke, but if I lived in California (where it seems like robbery is more acceptable than smoking), I’d start. I’d be a 20 a day smoker. And the hell with your rules!
P.S. The best song ever written that describes the rave culture I was a part of is “Sorted for E’s and Wizz” by Pulp. I always smile when I hear it or think of the lyrics. It says it all!