PLUR: Peace, Love, Unity, Respect

Feb 2, 2014 by

          “Hi honey,” a blonde girl on an obvious high approached me. “How are you?”

          “I’m good,” I smiled. “How are you?”

          Without answering, she cut to the chase: “Do you want some Molly?”

          “What?” I leaned in, unsure of what I had heard.

          “Do you want some M?” she clarified.

          My friend intervened, “We’re good, thank you.”

          “Did she just ask me if I want MDMA?” I asked my friend in surprise. She had acted as casually as the endless shot girls that had been offering me multicoloured vials of alcohol all night.

          “Yes,” he confirmed in amusement.

          “I really need to learn these drug codes,” I said. (P.S. I just Googled MDMA. FYI: MDMA is ecstasy. Good to know.)

          “I can’t believe you got offered M, of all people,” he laughed.

          “I know! We should have gone with her to the dealer . . . for research purposes.”

          “No, definitely not. She scared me. You’ve got to be careful in these places,” he warned.

          “She was so nice!” I defended the chick that had just tried to use ecstasy as bait to lure me outside.

          “Yeah, how sweet of her to want to drug you,” he mocked, making me laugh.

          “I thought so,” I played along. Touching my hand to my heart, I faked flattery, “She’s the first person who has ever thought to offer me M.”




          Last night, I played research assistant. My friend is in the midst of writing his master’s thesis, which will analyze the normalization of drugs in dance club culture and the safety precautions that are being employed by recreational drug users. This data will be used to support harm reduction tactics over enforcement tactics in managing drug use. In other words, when it comes to drugs, everyone’s doing them; so, instead of criminalizing drug use, he will argue that society should simply accept it and start promoting safe drug practices. He will backup his argument with observations made while clubbing with or amongst drug users. That’s right; my friend attends raves for grad school. I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. Would you rather be in a lab or watching people snort coke off a toilet seat? Hoping you’re down for anything unconventional, like I am, I’m assuming you’re cool and picked adventure, a.k.a. coke.

          Wow, this is totes making me sound like a drug addict. I am not. To summarize my limited substance abuse history: I drank to the point of drunkenness for my first time at 16, which is relatively late compared to someone I know who was suspended in Grade 9 for drinking a capful of vodka on school property. (That someone may or may not be currently conducting research on the normalization of drug use in dance club culture.) That year, I landed myself in the hospital with alcohol poisoning, marking the first and last time I’ve been sick by consequence of alcohol. Lesson learned. Moving on to cigarettes, I’ve taken one puff in my entire life. I was 17, and the guy who passed it to me was hot. (Stupid? Yeah. Would I do it again? Absolutely! Re: The guy was hot.) As for drugs, I haven’t even tried weed, never mind E. I am 24 and I have never been high – on anything. I’m apathetic toward drugs. I’m neither for nor against them, and I’ve simply never had an interest in trying them. However, I am pro people doing whatever makes them happy. If ecstasy does it for you, do it up, friends; but, please, practice harm reduction. Safety first!

          Now that I’ve submitted my substance abuse resume for your screening, let’s talk the rave research that I assisted with yesterday evening. My friend warned me that a rave probably wouldn’t be my scene, which is exactly why I wanted to go. Happiness Tip #10 instructs me to try new things. If I survived a strip club, I could easily do a rave. Scholarly drug investigation seemed intriguing – sexy, even. I can totally pull off the hot researcher look with my black-framed glasses and obvious intelligence (insert cocky hair flip here), I thought. Clearly, I knew nothing about raves. Picture more eclectic than sexy. Think warehouse instead of lounge, earmuffs instead pearls, and neon crop tops instead of fitted dresses. I definitely stood out, being the only girl in the place that was fully clothed and non-glowing. (Note to researchers everywhere: Dress the part.)

          Regardless, I was excited to put on my imaginary lab coat. Here’s where I came in: eavesdropping on chicks getting high in the bathroom. It was all very PI. I pretended to adjust my hair, while really using the mirror to spot the stalls with more than one girl inside. I’d then make my way into a neighbouring stall, in which I could hear nothing over the music. However, I noticed group drug use enough times in that bathroom to recognize it as a safety precaution to report back to my friend (#harmreduction). I also excitedly recounted other strange sightings that would have been atypical of female bathroom practices during my clubbing days, specifically the carrying of backpacks (to conceal drugs), the wearing of jackets (to protect against hypothermia, a side effect of ecstasy), and the constant refilling of water bottles (to prevent dehydration, another common side effect).

          What I found more interesting than drug use within rave culture, though, was rave culture itself. It’s rebellious. Not in a chaotic, out-of-control way, but in a peaceful, fuck-what-people-think way. Although I’m sure Molly (look at me putting my new drug vocab to use!) was a factor, they wore what they wanted (everything from sweatshirts to decorative mouth masks) and danced as they pleased. Raving was to these people what clubbing once was to me: an escape. Societal conventions for dress and overall being were left at the door, and they appreciated each other for it, warmly embracing individuality. While my friend was right in that the scene was not mine, I highly respected it. It was vastly different from the Peter St and King W clubs of Toronto’s teens and twenty-somethings respectively. It was absent of competition and exclusivity. People were friendly and welcoming. As evidenced by the lack of guys hitting on girls and lack of girls wooing for guys’ attention, people were simply there to dance. It was refreshing. They used their common need for societal liberation as their foundation for community. My friend described it best: “It’s actually kind of beautiful.”

Happiness Tip: Conduct participatory research.

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