Moral Panic

Dance Music and MDMA: The Drug Panic That Will Not Die

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Nikos Koutoulas/Flickr

Grab your glowsticks and pacifier necklaces, kids: It's time to freak out about Ecstasy and raves again. Except this time, we're calling the drug Molly and the dance parties EDM shows.

The Christian Science Monitor has a nice, breathless summary of the new MDMA panic, which looks pretty much exactly like the old MDMA panic(s). When it started rearing its head again last year, it was triggered by Miley Cyrus. This time the music at the center of the controversy comes from Swedish DJ Avicii, whom the Monitor article paints as some sort of electronica-playing Pied Piper for pillheads.

"More than a hundred people have been hospitalized at concerts by Swedish DJ Avicii in recent weeks, refocusing the public eye on the electronic dance music culture," reads the Monitor article subhead. Apparently, 36 people were hospitalized after an Avicii concert in Boston on Wednesday. In May, 400 people were hospitalized and two died at a music festival in Las Vegas at which Avicii played.

The hype machine is using this to warn about the dangers of "Molly," aka ecstasy, aka MDMA. While Molly generally refers to a less adulterated form of MDMA than ecstasy, they're conceptually similar. Molly is certainly nothing new, though you would be hard-pressed to glean this from many media accounts.  

"Signs of illicit drugs, including the popular club drug 'Molly' … were apparent, with concertgoers strapped to stretchers, some still screaming and flailing their arms," reported a Boston ABC station. And from CBS Boston

"There was one kid, it took four cops to take him down," one witness told WBZ-TV. "He was on something, I have no idea." 

Yet despite all this Avicii/Molly fear-mongering, there's actually little evidence Molly was involved. Authorities in Boston say many of the concert hospitalizations Wednesday were actually due to alcohol or some combination of alcohol and other drugs. Some were simply overheated and dehydrated after dancing for hours in the packed venue. 

"There may have been some illicit drug involved, but none have been identified," said Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Michael Bosse. He also noted that those taken to the hospital suffered no more than minor symptoms. 

Furthermore, not all of those transported to the hospital were even inside the Avicii concert. "Based on early reports from the venue it appears the majority of the transports were people outside the venue who were too impaired to be allowed inside the venue and access to the concert," said Jacqueline Peterson, a spokeswoman for Live Nation, in a statement. "Out of an abundance of caution they were transported for medical evaluation and assistance."

Out of an abundance of caution, some drunk teens hanging outside a concert venue were taken to the hospital and treated for minor symptoms. Not much of a Molly indictment if you ask me. But this is one moral panic that just keeps on giving. 

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  1. “There may have been some illicit drug involved, but none have been identified,” said Boston EMS Deputy Superintendent Michael Bosse. He also noted that those taken to the hospital suffered no more than minor symptoms.

    This is surprisingly rational for an official response. Good for Michael Bosse.

  2. Can we all agree that being trapped in a hot muggy arena with an insipid throng of drugged out teenagers with the non-stop blare of electronica music for hours on end is one of the Circles of Hell, that Dante forgot to relay?

    1. No. When you are one of the throng, it’s a great deal of fun.

      1. How does one join a throng exactly? I’ve been trapped by a couple in my day but I have never been a part of one.

        1. Taking your shirt off helps.

        2. Do some Molly

    2. Yes. Dancing is awful.

  3. “There was one kid, it took four cops to take him down,”

    I’m certain that being tackled by strangers with guns and batons has nothing whatsoever to do with the kid’s unwillingness to submit.

  4. In May, 400 people were hospitalized and two died at a music festival in Las Vegas at which Avicii played.

    Damn, I’d feel safer at the Gathering of the Juggalos.

  5. Still, on its face, two deaths at the Las Vegas concert does appear to be actuarially significant.

  6. Forget this nonsense. Am I still really the only one concerned with that DDR is doing to our children?

    1. Stress fractures of their feet?

      1. Okay, I’ll fess up. That’s what DDR did to me…the quest to get a triple A on Afro Nova expert level was merciless.

    2. I thought that the DDR went out of business 20 some years ago, and that Honecker and the rest of Stasi spent the rest of their lives claiming they were protecting the German people from the Soviets.

  7. Let me just take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the Thai dating/marriage service ad.

    1. Damn, I missed that. But you should see the Russian police women in miniskirts and high heels. I’d resist arrest just to wrestle around with them.

      1. Sorry, twitter links are words that are too long.

        1. Or SKWRLZ.

  8. Dance Music and MDMA: The Drug Panic That Will Not Die

    I look forward to dance music dying, now get off my fucking lawn and leave me with my nice relaxing speed metal.

  9. As usual, reporting news outlets don’t apparently know anything about Molly/Ecstasy/MDMA and what makes them similar and different.

    What everyone wants to be taking is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine), it acts as a releasing agent for serotonin, noepinephrine and dopamine, making you feel happy, energetic and full of empathy.
    Ecstasy is MDMA in pill form. Molly is (in theory) the freebased powder.

    The problem is, there literally hundreds of other psychoactive molecules that look just like Molly and the vast majority of them are research chemicals that have never been tested in humans before. Ravers buy ‘Molly,’ think they’re taking MDMA and most don’t have the chemical know-how to think to test. So they take something weird like some kind of substituted phenylethylamine or cathninone, or worse, a psychedelic and flip out.

    1. Back in the early 90’s, you could buy from just about anyone at a rave and be sure you were getting pure MDMA Ecstasy. By the late 90’s it was a total crap shoot. Sometimes you’d get speed laced with Niacin or cutter with some acid. One time, I’m pretty sure I got heroine in a capsule. By that time all of the friends (sellers) that I trusted to try it first got out of the business (got busted or just gave up the scene), so that’s when I gave up. It just got too risky.

  10. But still, if you don’t cut off the ravers and their molly now, next thing you know they’ll be listening to Elvis and hanging around with Negroes.

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