Opinion – How long will Dance culture have to put up with this unfounded stigma?

Last week I watched a programme on BBC3 iPlayer regarding the manufacture, distribution and illegal ingestion of MDMA, or as ‘investigative journalist’ Stacey Dooley kept calling it, Ecstasy. I was pretty appalled Stacey, you really need to talk to Frank. (is it wrong I want to spell her christian name with a lower case I and put a smiley face on it? Fuck it I think I will)

Aside from the glaring errors, sensationalist tone and almost farcical ‘meet the drug dealers’ scene, the whole hour left me thinking “what the fuck has ANYthing I’ve seen to do with Britain? (for whom the program was commissioned, and would be aired). We know the US drug scene is fucked, frankly, its way out of control for a whole host of reasons. And to be fair, if anyone featured was ACTUALLY a drug dealer, I’m a fucking tooth fairy.

Many things irked me about the programme, the most annoying of which was her stupid fucking niave little girl voice and utter amazement that people take drugs to have a good time. Listen to yourself love, you’re from fucking Luton for fucks sake! Last year a gang in Luton was jailed for 52 years after Bedfordshire police seized 9 KILOS of Heroin and Crack worth around £5Million. You cannot tell me in your 28 years, you never tried, or seen drugs before. You have haven’t you?! Daft Bint.

Another thing: Taking MDMA doesn’t make you go out and want to start jacking up Heroin, so showing some old junkie does nothing for the programme’s integrity and literally alienates its entire target audience . Let’s face it, this is Yoof TV, and the kids today are street wise enough to know the fucking difference in the first place. Millenials  are way more engaged and aware than my generation, and for the BEEB to assume kids are so brainwashed; numb from video games, uber violence and pop music, that they would do such a thing, shows a massive disconnect between them and how it really is ‘in da ‘Hood’. Sanctimonious twats.

“I loved when Bush came out and said, ‘We are losing the war against drugs.’ You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people ON drugs are winning it” – Bill Hicks

So let’s get a few things straight, this drug hasn’t suddenly appeared in the last 20 years, its been around for over a century in one form or other. MDMA, Mandy or MD for short (to fool the cops, shhh!) is a psychoactive drug developed in 1912 by a German chemist called Anton Köllisch. He was attempting to synthesis a blood coagulant – much like Thrombin or Vitamin K do naturally – for the treatment of abnormal blood complaints. Drug misuse is also nothing new. Indeed, Arthur Conan Doyle writes of Sherlock Holmes indulging in certain nefarious acts with drugs, Sigmund Freud was also a massive coke head and in the 1920s, Jazz musicians among others, would use copious amounts of pharmaceutical strength cocaine while playing in illegal speakeasy’s during Prohibition. Later in the 1950s, the US Army conducted tests on toxicity and behaviour with a range of drugs including Mescaline and MDMA, probably for mind control, although that’s complete conjecture.

In the mid 60s and throughout the 70s Alexander Shulgin, a crazy haired ‘Doc Brown from Back to the Future’ style hippie chemist conducted many studies (on himself and consenting students) for the usefulness of MDMA as a psychotherapy drug. Famously, he described its affects (albeit not felt strongly by himself) as “my low calorie martini”. From his research, many advances were made with a host of mental illnesses, such that in a 2005 NYTimes article – Dr Ecstasy, psychiatrist George Greer noted that therapists who used MDMA in their practice were impressed by the results. At the same time, in the UK, MDMA, although not named directly but linked to a groups of drugs called ring-substituted phenethylamines, was classed as an illegal drug with an updated order to the Misuse of Drugs act 1971.

When it came into popularity in the late 80s, pills, initially uppers from other youth movements like Punk were already a massive part of the under culture the Rave scene developed in. Later they would pick up the name Ecstasy due to the affect of the MDMA component. Frankly, drugs had been taken in bulk by generations of teenagers since the 1950s. Yeah, your parents might have taken drugs. Boggles the mind huh!?

Rave (Large)

So 80s Rave culture, much to the disapproval of UK Government, did not bring with it a generation of drug addled kids, because kids will always be adventurous, experimental and open to experience. And like today, they took those drugs with crossed fingers because little education or ability to test drugs existed. Taxed and regulated drugs like coffee, cigarettes and alcohol undergo rigorous examination to give the consumer confidence and to ensure that the correct doses of drug are used in the product. Nicotine for instance, in its pure form can kill instantly if it even touches human skin. That’s why its only at a strength of 1% in your smokes. However, none of the above was covered by ‘investigative journalist’ Staci D (or her crack team of BBC Researchers) clearly deeming the information ‘too glorifying’ for Da Yoof. Perhaps. Better to try and scare the shit out of people and make them lock their doors.

“The most dangerous thing is to buy something at the peak of its popularity. At that point, all favourable facts and opinions are already factored into its price and no new buyers are left to emerge” – Howard Marks

Fast forward to today. Drugs are fucked. MDMA is no longer MDMA, its a derivative that behaves in a similar way, but due to more Government updates to the Misuse of Drugs act, it can no longer be synthesised in its original form (why not google Substituted methylenedioxy- phenethylamines if you want to know more, but be warned, its pretty geeky stuff.) NB – That wasn’t mention by Our Staci either. Which means the market is flooded with crap alternatives because, well, supply and demand. Remember MCAT? Mistakenly reported as a powdered plant food, because it was dangerous for human consumption, it could be bought legally online or at gardening shops. God knows who thought about snorting it first, but essentially, its chemical structure was very similar to MDMA apart from a hydroxyl group. Anyway, it was shit, and only became popular because MDMA production had dropped dramatically making the pills almost always duds. Eventually, the Government banned it and we were glad. Now the kids are snorting Buscopan! No, really.

Drug deaths are big news and further fuel the modus operandi of increase the fear, increase the control that western countries tend to employ. Fact is, as tragic and untimely as these deaths are, many are completely avoidable with proper education. ‘Investigative Journalist’ Staci D may not have had any say on the way her ‘exposé’ would appear on screen, but it baffles me why the BBC did not take this opportunity to educate Da Yoof. Surely they have a responsibility, not only to make factual television, but also to furnish their peer pressured, easily influenced target audience with basic knowledge of certain drugs, their effects and what to do when things go ary.

By demonising drugs, they make them more appealing. Remember when your parents forbid you seeing someone you liked, you saw them in secret. Its part of growing up, we all snuck around behind our parents back and did things we maybe aren’t so proud of today. Surely its better to be safe and prepared, like the girl in the show who tested her drugs before she took them. Those kits aren’t readily available in the UK, you have to buy them online. The Dutch use them all the time though. The fact is, Da Yoof are going to experiment with drugs (They will also experiment with Love, Sex, Gender, Jobs and many other things). And providing them with facts and figures to make rational choices, in view of balancing the pros and cons of that information, is the responsibility of anyone in a position to do so. I did, here.

*Please note these are the opinions of the author only.