Posted by
The Fool
• 02.28.11 12:00 pm

Dose, Syrous, Liquid Adrenaline, Effective, AWOL, Destiny, Hullabaloo — in 1998, at the high point of Toronto’s rave culture, these promotion crews were running parties almost every weekend, bringing top name DJ’s in to the city and, more importantly, providing suitable venues for all-night recreational drug consumption.

The front (or back?) of a 1999 flyer for MDMA’s Communication Breakdown Party

Dose, Syrous, Liquid Adrenaline, Effective, AWOL, Destiny, Hullabaloo — in 1998, at the high point of Toronto’s rave culture, these promotion crews were running parties almost every weekend, bringing top name DJ’s in to the city and, more importantly, providing suitable venues for all-night recreational drug consumption. It was a winning formula that couldn’t be fucked with and the youth of the city were turning out in numbers to show their approval.

’98 was also the year that politicians realized it was popular to campaign against the city’s rave culture, which had gone relatively unnoticed up until that point. After the local media ran several stories emphasizing how dangerous raves were, the mayor of Toronto, a former furniture salesman named Mel Lastman, made it a political priority to crack down on the party culture. He was upset about the proliferation of drug use among teens and, like many others, was also disturbed by the “electronic” influence on U2’s Pop album. It was all getting way out of hand.

One of the last great parties I went to in Toronto was the Emerald City.

Things came to a head later that year; I remember being at a party promoted by the Effective crew called “The Emerald City.” It was pretty much like any other Toronto rave I had ever been to with the exception of one significant moment.

Before the headlining DJ’s could start into their sets, an MC at the party –- a guy named Flip Side -– had stopped the music to address the crowd about the political pressure rave promoters were facing. He was going to remind us all that what we needed more than ever was solidarity in the scene.

I didn’t need to hear him speak. I already knew, like everyone else wearing pants with a 24-inch leg opening, that WE were right and THEY were wrong. But thank God we had an articulate spokesman like Flip Side to really break it down for us. Paraphrasing, here’s what he said that night:

“The Government is trying to say that our culture is wrong. That we’re part of a scene that promotes drug use. They want to shut us down because they don’t understand what rave culture is about. If you know about Toronto rave culture like I do, then you know this scene isn’t about drugs, that no one here is promoting drug use or using drugs… it’s all about MUSIC and COMMUNITY.”

Now, at the time I was hearing this, I was stoned harder than an Islamic housewife who got caught cheating on her husband, so I could be wrong about 90% of what I just quoted, but I remember with absolute certainty the two foundational principles mentioned in Flip Side’s speech: MUSIC and COMMUNITY.


Even with my own bias and a searing ecstasy high working against my better logic, I couldn’t buy into such oblivious bullshit.

I looked around at everyone else at the party, all of whom were cheering, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t music or community that was causing their jaws to grind. The entire crowd, including my friends and I, were so collectively wasted any one of us could’ve made Charlie Sheen look like Kirk Cameron on wheatgrass. By my unscientific calculation I estimated that maybe five people were there for music/community and the other 2,000 were trying to see how many pills they could fit into their mouth at once.

I was completely disillusioned. Of course music and friends were an important part of what was going on, but so were the drugs. We had been accused of being drug users, which we were, and instead of owning up to the fact that drugs were an intrinsic part of the culture, the official response from the statesmen of the party scene was to dismiss all criticism as a bad, misinformed trip –- this from a scene where the standard opener for approaching strangers was “So, what are you on?”

That’s what denial looked like in 1998.

Today it looks a little different, but remains retarded nonetheless, like the teenagers I teach who say shit to me such as:

“Well, you know I don’t really do drugs… just M’s,” or, “I don’t do drugs that are really bad for you, I only do MDMA.”

Since when is MDMA not that bad for you?

A friend of mine graduated from the rave scene to become a scientist. She now studies the effects of drugs in the brain. Her running joke is that she’s trying to figure out exactly what she did to herself back in those party days. According to her expert opinion, the research on MDMA is inconclusive, inadequate and the few studies that are being funded are heavily biased by financiers who have an agenda they want validated by the research. So I don’t know why people are of the opinion that MDMA is significantly less harmful than any other drug that affects the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain.

In 1998 we were liars for pretending our scene wasn’t about drugs. We should have just defended our position honestly instead of trying to imagine the rave culture as being something it wasn’t.

In 2011 you’re a liar if you’re promoting the idea that MDMA isn’t really bad for you in the same way other drugs are.

The truth is: No one knows for sure. Just because you don’t feel as stepped on the next day doesn’t mean your brain is any less affected. Convincing yourself that what you’re doing isn’t very bad for you won’t change the reality of the fact that it actually might be.

I’m not saying don’t do drugs. It would be hypocritical of me. All I’m saying is: be honest about it. If you are going to do drugs, don’t do them and pretend you’re taking happiness vitamins. Be real about the risks you’re assuming and the price you’re willing to pay for a high. If you ignore the fact that there’s no conclusive evidence about what MDMA does to your brain and you ignore the fact that I’ve personally seen some of my friends cripple themselves by taking too much ecstasy, you should still be able to know at an instinctual level that nothing that feels as good as an MDMA high comes without a price. Life is never so gracious, and contrary to the great hippie myth, not even love is free.


  1. pfft says:

    hahaha you were a raver

  2. Christi Bradox says:

    What a faggoty post. I have done MDMA more than a few times and don’t give a shit about what it does to me. It makes for an unforgettable evening and that’s what matters. Being healthy is a sham. Go to the gym, don’t do drugs, eat healthy, its all bullshit. Do drugs that you like without becoming a total loser from them. Live in NYC where you have to walk so you don’t have to go to the gym Eat what tastes good to you.

  3. BadBoy says:


  4. no.thanks. says:

    you sort of hit it on the head. thing is, you are talking about the late nineties when things were booming for electronic music. during that time you had a lot of people that came into the music and parties under the idea that its all about the drugs. in one year I saw parties go from a place where most people are upright, alert and walking to a sea of people laid on the floor massaging each other because of MDMA.

    fuck, from my own take, i was an electronic music nerd in HS, folks totally made fun of me for liking the shit and going to parties, right after high school I kept running into old classmates fucked up at the party. i think the overall take is that drugs where an accepted but not highlighted part of the culture but then after things went mainstream and the gates opened to more people then the perception changed to where people would only go for the drugs.

    so, i think when the mc said what he said, I think he was speaking from an older perspective instead of what was totally current.

    but now that i think about it some more, sounds like you were at a massive and those always bring in some jerks

  5. heroin town says:

    There’s definitely a possibility that MDMA is bad for you…but it is truly the bomb. And, with the exception of marijuana, the number of people that have died as a result of MDMA use is (verifiably) way lower than any other commonly abused rec drug.
    Like you said, once the dumbfucks in the mass media found out about molly, it became a ridiculous bogeyman. Like the global warming of drugs or whatever. Scare stories sell.

  6. Paul Jokenfold says:

    Remember that movie “Hackers”?

  7. FaceHeadAss says:

    I don’t want to read any comments from people under age 28 about the “rave scene.” The Fool hit it on the head. Spot on.

    I had a shirt I got at a rave in Florida that said “keep your mainstream nose out of our underground ass.”

    If you think MDMA’s not harmful, you haven’t taken enough to speak intelligently on the matter. I know I’m dumber now then I was before I started.

  8. Greg says:

    What, before you ‘started’ on the auld MDMA like?

  9. count badly says:

    Hi I participated in the Toronto Rave Scene and I’m worried about my children becoming flipper babies and having second thoughts drag like minute rice when I’m old and voting tory, please wring your hands with me. I haven’t gotten properly high in years and I’m needing a penis so bad. the smiley dance penis of my youth has retracted turned brown cosby sweater and I’ve poooooooed inside.

    SRSLY, this is SRS dude, the only thing to regret about those party days is pants size and maybe getting fucked in the ass a bit too much when you weren’t gay, but other than that, it’s all good

  10. Anonymous says:

    However much drugs count badly has done is the amount that causes retardation. This post is spot on as the more level headed commenters already said.

  11. The King's Fece says:

    @Christi Bradox: I ain’t moralising, just logifying.. so, what if those droogs that catalyze an “unforgettable” evening cause loss of those selfsame memories? It’s a conundrum, eh? Bit of a sticky wicket, eh old chappee? Again, I’m not choosing sides.

    Speaking for myself, I say longevity is for pussies!!…until I’m faced with my own actual demise…then I wet myself, which is especially gross, cause I’m a fece in this post…

  12. lol@u says:

    The reason I don’t take pills anymore is that you really have no idea what the fuck is in them. The last dose of pure e I probably saw was in 91. I’ve met people that made pills and trust me those dude don’t give a fuck. People would get tired of the same high and want a different one so this was just good business for them. They would add all types of weird shit to a pill just to make it different. I know one guy who was a graduate chemistry student who invented some new drug he wanted to sell. Last I heard he was in a mental institution. Mushrooms are the only thing I would trust at this point.

    You should do a writeup of the fake ‘legal’ weed they make now. That is another crazy realm of stupidity.

  13. Arv says:

    @lol@u: Pill Reports and another site (whose name I can’t remember now) were pretty good for narrowing down what was in a roll. There’s also word of mouth, but you have to trust your friends/dealer/whoever to not be retarded and actually know the difference between MDMA, DXM, sugar, etc.

  14. Trim trank says:

    Yeah, an annoying teacher from toronto who writes like a nerdy embarrassing dad (great kirk cameron joke cool guy, see you at the beach).. What an authority on brain chemistry.. He has a SCIENTIST friend who has a running joke about how shes learning just darn gosh what she diddly doodly did to her noggaroonie back then that time she went to limelight with her residence mates during frosh and ate half a tylenol. Yep let’s listen to what an uppity loser has to say about a party he went to in 1998 and draw some weak unscientific conclusions because a few hurtbags he read about in The Sun did too much and got bad mongo. Beat it geek

  15. Trim Trank's Disappearing Septum says:

    @Trim trank, you’re obviously not into happy drugs. In fact you seem like the raging cokehead type. No one likes that guy, except maybe coked-up porn stars. The Fool ain’t drawing “weak unscientific conclusions”. All he’s saying is that if you’re a drug user, you should just admit it to yourself.

    Maybe you should admit something to yourself too… that you’re an asshole. Snort another one mate.

  16. librarian says:

    haha! @trim tank and the rest of that camp. if you were there/here you’d agree with the nail on the head theory. ps badboy – lol

  17. Anonymous says:

    @ Trim Tank you should prob stop posting comments on the internet. You sound like a fucking idiot, as has been mentioned by the previous two commenters. Funny how the people who are criticizing the message of this post all sound like angry babies. If you’re trying to make a point, you’re not succeeding.

  18. Carly Jones says:

    I saw a kid OD at an Effective party in 98 (held at the warehouse.) I heard later Through the wire-VIA Union Station bathroom and The McDonalds at the Eaton Center, that he died (later reported by The Star on some Meth/Jib mixture shit)

    I was high as fuck that night. I remember puking all over my Snug jeans that night-Ahhhh, those were that days.

    I’ve been waiting for somebody to bring up “The Toronto Party Scene” of the 90’s. I thought people were embarrassed, didn’t care, or couldn’t remember shit about them.

    Regardless, Dr Trance was/is a scary pedophile. Like the pied piper luring kids to his parties with offers of E.

  19. god hates flags says:

    Molly gave me SARS

  20. swass says:

    I think I was at that party. It’s true, if you’re younger than 28 and talking like you know what you’re saying about MDMA, you’re talking out your ass. Those were fun days, no doubt, but if you have a lick of sense, you’ll do your thing and stop when you get too skinny, moody, and forgetful, and before your teeth start falling out. Seriously.

  21. Jesus Christ! says:

    I’ve not read such terrible grammar and misssssspelled words in quite a while. Lay off whatever fucking drugs you’re justifying with your posts kooks.


  22. grumpy old man says:

    how could anyone possibly enjoy a rave without a mountain of drugs?

  23. Columbo says:

    What ever happened to Dr. Trance?

  24. Carly Jones says:

    I hope he died-like the style of music he played.

    Dude was a creep, lurking in dark corners of the “base’mint”.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Fool great post. I agree with the others about hitting the nail on the head. I was there and its nice to hear from people who were too. So glad somebody wrote about this since there is not much from that time on the webs. @Trim Trank “noggaroonie”, ” bad mongo”, “diddly doodly”, “darn gosh”? WTF? It is clear YOU sound like an annoying and embarrassing dad. Keep on trucking until you get to Sheen-ville buddy.

  26. maurice del taco says:

    good post but wtf where did all the cracked out eTards come from

  27. you all like "Fergie" says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t at least link to one of Lastman’s amazing “bad boy” commercials. Imagine if Giuliani had owned a used car lot before being mayor of NYC.

  28. sr says:

    Don’t you read the news? This just came out like a week ago. It’s not bad for you anymore.

    “There is no evidence that ecstasy causes brain damage, according to one of the largest studies into the effects of the drug. Too many previous studies made over-arching conclusions from insufficient data, say the scientists responsible for the research, and the drug’s dangers have been greatly exaggerated.”

  29. trim trank says:

    “All he’s saying is that if you’re a drug user, you should just admit it to yourself.”

    braw haw.. no I think he’s actually saying he thinks avril lavigne is cool. she’s 100% against drugs too, they are bad newz and winners toadally don’t do them. anyone righteously defending this poorly written white whine is also a loser, or more likely the writer himself. Yo fool, your twitter feed is about as inane as it gets. who thought this lame dad type would fit in around here anyway.


  30. The Fool says:

    @no.thanks – Yes. There was a big change that happened from 97 to 99. The party I mention was the last time I went and felt the good outweighed the bad. By 99 I was done. I would’ve mentioned this more but didn’t want to turn this into a tl/dr.

    @FaceHeadAss – I feel dumber too. Nice to know I’m not the only one.

    @Carly Jones – I have no idea what happened to Dr.Trance after they closed down the Big Bop years ago. I believe he was still running parties on Sundays up until the end. They’ve re-opened the Basement (and they spell it that way now too). I hear you can catch Mark Oliver and Kenny Glasgow there every so often. And I’ve had many girlfriends puke on their Snug/Kitchen Orange wides. I think it was a right of passage. Re: Union station, ever have to take the GoTrain home from the Exhibition stop? That place was like a squat at 7am, kids passed out everywhere on the floor, handrails and elevator waiting for the first train home. You’ll never see something like that again in this city…

    @you all like “Fergie” – That clip is getting hyperlinked.

    @Trim trank – Really? That upset because I’m asking people to be honest about their drug use? And “beat it geek”? Yeah, sorry, I forgot doing drugs was about being cool. Keep at it cool guy. You’re fucking HARDCORE.

  31. Bad Logic says:

    Just because a large proportion of people were on drugs does not invalidate the claim that the music and community were also important; the two are not mutually exclusive!

    I went to raves in the 90s and was usually (always) high, but certainly knew people who did go just for the music and community and in fact didn’t get high. Sure they were the minority, but they were there. I also remember a strong sense of community with my fellow ravers that trancended the drugs.

    And IMO it wasn’t the politics that killed raves, it was the club culture infiltration. I knew it was the beginning of the end when I saw meat-heads walking around with 26ers, the further nail in the coffin was when it became the de facto after hours place to go post club for 40 year olds wanting to take advantage of underage kids.

  32. Trim Trank's #1 fan says:

    I was there too in the nineties, in Toronto rave shitsville, so while I half-heartedly approve of the message, I whole-heartedly approve of how hilarious Trim Trank’s commentary is.

  33. The Fool says:

    @ Bad Logic

    “Of course music and friends were an important part of what was going on, but so were the drugs.”

    Who said they were mutually exclusive? Not me. What I was saying was by that point it was more about drugs than anything else.

  34. Scheck, you just brought back a lot of very, very fuzzy memories from 94-98.

  35. The Fool says:

    @Scheck it – great link. I’ve checked out the mixtape archive before. Also want to add this link in case anyone was wondering where I got the flyer pics from:

    There’s a lot of shit to sift through, if you feel so inclined.

  36. apathetic citizen of any other country on earth says:

    toronto’s rave scene grows up and becomes a scientist to discover that drugs are bad?

    is this a degrassi plotline?

  37. […] chosen to lambast. This post compares Toronto rave and drug atmosphere to today’s in “Drugs and Denial“, written by their regular contributor The Fool, who, ironically, seems to be a teacher […]

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