Havens: Education needed to combat drug use at concerts


Mary Jane, look out – there’s a new girl in town by the name of Molly.

“Molly,” properly known as the powdered form of MDMA, has been causing quite a scene lately, raising much concern and controversy over drug abuse and its ties to the music industry. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) has been the genre most associated with the drug, and everyone in the industry is quick to spread blame for its seemingly sudden rise in consumption.

Everyone from festival promoters to paramedics has witnessed the drug’s destruction firsthand – most recently at the 2013 Electric Zoo festival in New York, where two attendees died as a result of an apparent overdose of the drug. In response to the deaths, the official decision was made to cancel the third and final day of the festival. The EDM industry is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion, but are the profits worth the risks?

One organization in particular doesn’t think so. DanceSafe is a nonprofit that has taken a stance towards “promoting health and safety within the rave and nightclub community,” according to their mission statement.

Earlier this month, DanceSafe issued a press release in response to the tragedies at Electric Zoo. The press release concluded that, “We are all socially responsible. This includes the patron, friend, promoter, DJ/artist, event staff, medical personnel, and even security and law enforcement. If you are a part of the community and/or a particular event and ignoring the realities of drug use, you are socially and medically negligent.”

DanceSafe believes that the best way to minimize the issue of drug use is through education. Julie Howard, a psychiatrist and editor of “Ecstasy: The Complete Guide,” recently told Rolling Stone that, “The biggest issue with Molly is it’s a white powder, and a white powder can be absolutely anything.”

So for all you know, you may have simply taken a hit of a pixie stick.

Upon learning about these efforts, I couldn’t help but wonder, when did our generation become so trusting? We put passcodes on our iPhones and block pictures on Facebook, yet we’ll willingly accept questionable drugs for the thrill of dancing like Thom Yorke in the “Lotus Flower” music video.

Over the years, I’ve witnessed the growing dangers of the dynamic dance-music-and-drug duo. I’ve seen teenagers carried away from the Lollapalooza electronic dance stage on stretchers, and I’ve seen young adults openly offering an array of substances at Summercamp Music Festival. What strikes me most is the normalcy of it all.

This past weekend, I attended Buzz Beach Ball. Though this event was far tamer in comparison to my past experiences, one situation still did arise. While standing amongst the packed crowd for Alt-J, I noticed that someone had passed out just to right next to me. A few audience members circled around the person, with looks of confusion and fear on their faces. Within two minutes, the person stood up and wandered off to make their way towards personal space and fresh air.

What shocked me the most wasn’t the fact that someone had passed out, but the fact that within mere moments, the crowd had turned their attention back to stage and joined in on the chorus of whatever song was playing. I tapped the person in front of me to ask what had happened, to which he replied, “Who knows? I freakin love Alt-J, man!”

Have we become so tolerant of these instances, so immune, that we no longer react? References to Molly have even made their way into mainstream music, the most recent example being Miley Cyrus’ claim to fame, “We Can’t Stop.” While we may never know if Cyrus’ lyrics say “dancing with Miley,” or “dancing with Molly,” I think it’s safe to say that the risk factor is equal.

Jillionarie, a member of the DJ project Major Lazer, told Rolling Stone that, “It’s going to sound weird, but we need to teach kids how to do drugs, the same way we teach them about drinking responsibly and having safe sex.”

Personally, I agree. When our generation is told no, we somehow hear yes. Being told not to do something simply becomes a challenge of how we will proceed to do it. In order to keep the current drug culture under control, we first have to control what we know. Before long, the talk about “the birds and the bees,” may become a conversation about “the powders and the pills.”

Lyndsey Havens is a journalism major from Chicago, Ill. Read more from .

  • Updated Sep. 30, 2013 at 5:18 pm
  • Matthew Sullivan

    I just use personal responsibility and good judgment, but whatever.

    • Lyndsey H.

      Glad to hear it, thanks for reading

  • Missi- DanceSafe

    Well said! I like your last statement…a conversation about “the powders and the pills.”