Rave regulars brought up Ecstasy abuse connection in interviews

Rick Nathanson, Journal Staff Writer
Albuquerque Journal
June 10, 2002

My story on the popular – and illegal – drug Ecstasy, which was published in the Journal on June 2, resulted in a lot of feedback. Most came in the form of e-mails from young people who are part of the rave dance scene and disagreed with the connection made between raves and Ecstasy abuse. The original idea was for the story to research Ecstasy and attempt to explain its popularity as well as the dangers its users face, which are numerous. Law enforcement officials say Ecstasy use is as much a part of the rave scene as the accessories used to enhance the drug experience – infant pacifiers, face masks and glow sticks, to name a few. I spent days walking the University of New Mexico campus and its surrounding neighborhoods asking people about raves, not drugs. Almost always, the people being interviewed brought up Ecstasy without prompting. To avoid repetition, the representative comments of a rave regular and Ecstasy user who called himself Dave were used in the final version of the story. Rave regulars I spoke to, by their own admissions, confirmed the police assumption: Raves and Ecstasy use are inextricably woven together. That point was underscored Thursday night when I appeared on a KUNM-FM radio program with DEA agent Finn Selander; Geoff Chesshire, director of a state chapter of DanceSafe; and Christopher Boyer and Sean Rubeo, two local rave promoters. Chesshire explained how DanceSafe attends raves to provide information about drugs in a “nonjudgmental way” and offer free tests of pills to check for the chemical signatures of MDMA, or Ecstasy. Boyer and Rubeo said Ecstasy use is “rampant” at their dances, but they claimed there is nothing they can do about it. Besides, they reasoned, kids are going to do Ecstasy, anyway; and even though they personally don’t condone it, it’s better for them to be doing it there in the relatively safe environment of the rave. Perhaps there is something they can do about it, such as promoting their raves as drug-free dances and refusing entry or removing Ecstasy sellers and segregating those under the influence of the drug in hospitality tents until they are sober enough to drive home. Based on the comments of those who responded to the story, some of which appear on this page, one would think rave fans would prefer such measures.