DJs and Drugs : “Dancing with Molly” ?
As with any music culture for instance, rock, hip-hop or any movement, the use of drugs looks inevitable. It is a fact that much of DJ-ing and the electronic dance music culture revolves around some form of drug use. EDM and other forms of aggressive house music are suited for the fast paced drug tendencies. Every time there is an event: social media erupts with the promotion of the idea of you only live once or YOLO. This approach combined with mammoth crowds, naive audience, alcohol, drugs and the bro mentality creates a recipe for disaster.
A common practice ?
EDM parties are frequently flooded with bad batches of drugs. In the United States, for example, there has been a recent crackdown on the common drug known as MDMA (commonly known as Ecstasy). In these parties, there is usually a vast supply of “Molly” hugely contaminated with bath salts or Methylone. Also, there is PMA, a chemical that has been sold to individuals as pills for years: this drug is particularly dangerous because it has a “slow high” and this frequently leads to overdoses.
Molly and PMA have been linked to the deaths and ailments of electronic music enthusiasts that have made the headlines in recent years. For example, during the New York’s Electric Zoo Festival that was held from August 30 to September 1st, a young man by the name of Jeffrey Russ died as a result of ingesting Methylone. The Chemical Methylone is also suspected to have caused the deaths of concert enthusiasts in Boston a month before the Electric Zoo Festival. During last year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, a 24-year-old man perished as a result of MDMA intoxication.
Drugs in the “rave” and “parties” culture are tarnishing the name of this powerful movement and the result could be detrimental to the culture’s growth and development. For example Anton Zaslavski alias Zedd, the Russian-born DJ, who is based in Germany, had his much-anticipated tour hit some tragic snags after MDMA overdose deaths in Boston and during the Electric Zoo Festival in New York, the event’s final day had to be cancelled. These events got everyone talking and pointing accusing fingers at the DJs and producers of these events. Some of the DJs have even been accused of motivating these young people to do drugs as a result of their carefree lifestyle. In a similar way as with psychedelic music, the use of narcotics seems to belong to the very essence of the movement.
But, one question still lingers, where does the buck stop? Everyone is listed when it comes to advising and helping the young people to fight this drug menace. From parents to friends, promoters and organisations like DanceSafe. But, it may also be the responsibility of those individuals who stand out on the stage, every night, the DJs and 888 Ladies. Many young individuals look up to the DJs, just have a look at their massive following on Twitter. Every example and trend that is set by them: positive or not, is closely followed by these young people.
The DJs Response
Most of the DJs do not want to sound anti-drugs or come off as preachy: they do not desire to tell other individuals how to conduct their business. On the other hand, there are some who are willing to send the right message by taking a stand against drugs.
Speaking of taking a stand against drugs, Deadmau5, one of the best DJs, shocked everyone when he went against the iconic Madonna for using drug lingo at the 2012 music festival. Madonna used the phrase “has anyone seen Molly?” and Deadmau5 didn’t take it likely considering how EDM music is fighting the effects of this drug.
Deadmau5 is one of the DJs that have never approved drugs in EDM and this is a position that he has held for years. Through a blog post, he clearly stated that he is not a drug user and condemned those who impose drugs to others; this is highly commendable, considering his status in the electro universe. His stand clearly goes against the long-held sentiment that EDM is all about taking drugs every five minutes, a sense that has normalised narcotics use for the young fanatics.
Other ones have also come out, but without touching on issues like drug policy or adulteration have informed young people just to say no. Sebastian Ingrosso, for instance, advises the young people to enjoy music safely. DJ Kaskade is also vocal against drug use and consistently uses his blog and social media advocating for social responsibilities among electronic dance music festival attendees.
Other DJs like Steve Aoki, A-Trak, Z-trip and Tommy Sunshine among many others released a video on the internet warning revellers against the dangers. The DJs opted to inform the young people on these use instead of using the cliché phrase of “don’t do drugs”. Their message is straightforward and shows that drugs and EDM are not mutually exclusive…