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  • Writer's pictureElijah Felix

EDM and MDMA: What's The Connection?

Who doesn’t love a good party? When the vibes are on point, the music hits and the people are involved it’s hard to just sit still and let it pass you by, you have to join in. Imagine yourself at one of these parties.. No, not the holiday work party, no not the party down the street at the bar you go to all the time, but a party where the only sources of light are bouncing back and forth at speeds you can’t catch up with. A party where the bass feels like it's wrapping itself around you and forcing you to move. A party where you’re surrounded by darkness and vibrant colors. A party where you may be approached to take something you’ve never taken before. Imagine yourself at a rave.

Raves or Raving started back in the 1980s, known for the loud house music and interesting venues (think warehouse or abandoned building). These parties would involve a live techno DJ and an all-nighter of dancing. It wasn’t until the 1990s when this concept was introduced to the United States that this started to really ramp up. Starting in California, specifically in cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, the rave scene quickly swept across the US and over to the east coast where DJ Scotto held Manhattan’s first rave at Studio 54 involving an artist known as Frankie Bones is credited as a founder of this scene.

It's been over 30 years since this scene became a reality in the world and since then it’s grown into a booming business with large-scale festivals happening in just about every country. Whether you’re looking to attend Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas, Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium, or Sensation in Amsterdam these dance-fueled festivals can be found in many corners of the world. These events offer the freedom to really allow you to express yourself, show your personality and experiment with who you are as a person. You can cover yourself in paint, jewelry, and grandiose costumes, the possibilities are endless when it comes to showing the world who you are. But with that being said, there’s another element of experimentation that is included in these festivals and that is with the drug known as MDMA.

Now of course this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone, being that these festivals will occasionally pride themselves on being very freeing of judgment, it can be easy to succumb to the notion of peer pressure especially if it’s seen as a direct parallel to these shows, it’s part of the experience. According to roughly one in four people have linked their EDM festival experiences to MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy. MDMA is used for enhancing your sense of well-being and increased extraversion, and emotional warmth. In other words, this may allow the user to feel the music in a different way than they would sober or under the influence of any other drug. In a lot of cases, especially in today’s world, these concertgoers can have an association with depression and anxiety upping the possibility of them becoming a user. Found in a study of 1,020 EDM events attended by adults, 33.4% reported having an initiation of the use of ecstasy at an EDM festival. In an Australian study, 73.4% of attendees of a major music festival reported the use of illegal drugs in the past 12 months, with that illegal drug primarily being ecstasy. Inexperienced attendees, environment, anxiety and risky drug taking all seem to fall under an underlying disease of these large-scale raves.

Looking at this issue from a wide lens, one could probably draw the conclusion that the drugs in and of themselves aren’t the main problem but the gateway. As someone who attends and works in the entertainment industry, I can say that there’s a variety of factors that present themselves. When taking MDMA, your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, being how crowded these events tend to be, and the lack of shade or air conditioning in indoor festivals lend to the increased risk of your body overheating. Users may have an adverse reaction as in a lot of cases, the age for these festivals isn’t exclusive to patrons 21 or older so you get those inexperienced groups of teens, trying these drugs for the first time. The lack of knowledge of the drug and its effects on unprepared attendees increases the risk of fatal outcomes. In addition, the chances the seller explains to you the purity, instruction, and side effects in a clear and honest way during these events is quite slim.

At the end of the day, I'm an advocate for letting people have full control of their bodies, both physically and mentally. I love various forms of electronic music as well as the festivals they put on. This editorial is in no way a PSA to turn you away from these events. I very much encourage you to attend one of these festivals, big or small, and experience it as it can be quite profound and exciting. If you decide to engage with MDMA or a drug of any kind during your time there, I fully support you.

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