EL PASO – The dancing crowd rides a wave of lights surging to electronic rhythms while neon colors waft the wall and the crowd becomes one with the massive electro-beats as the wave becomes tsunami, flooding the hall up to eight hours at a time.
The ecstasy that drives hours of nonstop dancing, typical at music festivals and raves, is sometimes fed by Ecstasy – the illicit drug.
“I wouldn’t have lasted dancing, or even standing for the whole seven hours that I was there. I rolled for seven hours straight,” said Robert, 21.
For many years, people have combined the music scene with drug use to increase the energy and enhance euphoria. Responsible supervision has weakened at these events and Ecstasy has become so common that people believe it is O.K. to consume the drug at raves.
“My first time using ecstasy was actually not that fun. It wasn’t until I was introduced to the electronic dance music scene like raves, and music festivals that I actually started enjoying it. I just think it makes the whole rave experience more enjoyable. That’s why I keep using them,” said Christian, 22, who has attended various world-renowned electronic music festivals such as Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Electric Daisy Carnival in Los Angeles, and the Electric Zoo in New York.
“Being on ecstasy in such huge events is hard to put in words. You are worry-less, fun, friendly, one big family, because for that moment you know everybody around you is similar to you. You’re there to have fun and forget about the world for the night, enjoy your friends, meeting others, dancing and loving one another.”
It is common to encounter young adults with this same mentality and rolling (using Ecstacy) at these events is almost essential for them. The perception of colors, touch, and sounds becomes more intense allowing them, they say, to enjoy the rave to its maximum.
“The effects that this drug causes in you are really quite lovely. At first, there’s a sense of anxiousness but then it really is quite exquisite. Just a mixture of emotions,” Robert said.
“Of course, it takes you on an ultimate high, but then when the music and lights are gone… you fall into complete darkness and aloneness. It’s really one of the wildest scenes I’ve ever been in or hope to be in.”
Monster electronic music festivals are popular in the United States and last from two to three days. They headline world known artists and attract millions of fans. Some 20,000 fans attended the two-day Sun City Music Festival, which took place in El Paso’s Cohen Stadium on Labor Day weekend.
Although fans of all ages were “rolling” and minors were publicly drinking alcoholic beverages, the El Paso Police Department reported only two incidents during the two-night event.
“We have a report of one incident that resulted in an assault where the suspect was intoxicated,” said Darrel Petry, Public Information Officer for the Police Department.
“There was another incident where a minor was cited for possession of alcohol, but that occurred across the street from the event. These are the only two incidents recorded by the El Paso Police Department,” he said.
According to event organizers more than 50 security guards were on hand and a few off duty officers were also present.
“We still ensure public safety. We make sure that no laws are broken. If an officer is there and they come across a person who is intoxicated or on drugs and they are becoming a danger to themselves or others, we take care of it.”
Paramedics were also available at the event but no information could be released on how many people they treated for any reason. During one of the nights, an attendant at the event saw the paramedics rushing a person out of the concert.
“There comes a point when you know you should stop, but hardly anybody does. Everybody knows ecstasy isn’t something you should be doing. I wouldn’t say it’s addictive, but the more often you do it, the more pills you have to take in order for it to have any effect on you,” Christian said.
“Those people who are more often on it usually need three or four to get a ‘good roll’ so not so much that there is a limit, but there’s a goal.”
A factor that could encourage these young adults to consume is the low cost of the pills and how easy it is for them to obtain them.
“It is easier than buying alcohol or anything like that. It’s kind of scary how quick I can get a pill,” Samantha said. Samantha, 21, has been using ecstasy for two years now. “I can usually text to people and get a pill within like 10 minutes,” she said.
Samantha said it is easy to smuggle the pills into concerts, although there are security checks at the entrance. Guards ask attendees to empty their pockets, but another fan said he hides the pills in his wallet and they never check for that.
“They usually never pat me because most of the securities are men and I always wear a dress or something of that nature so I guess they are scared,” Samantha said. “Sometimes I’m holding the pill in my hand and they won’t even notice. They take one look at me and see that I’m wearing a dress and just let me in like nothing.”