This year is the 20th anniversary of the UK’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, the legislation that effectively banned raves and sent the whole British scene into the expensive confines of legitimate clubs and venues. To mark the occasion, photographer Tom Hunter is exhibiting his series Le Crowbar—a documentation of his time traveling through Europe in the mid-90s in a convoy of converted coaches, ambulances, and buses, setting up raves and impromptu festivals. See it at the "Life on the Road" exhibition at LCC in London’s Elephant and Castle.
After relocating from Dorset to London at the age of 15 and spending some time as a tree pruner in the Royal Parks of London, Tom Hunter bought a year-long ticket to America. It was on this trip that he began taking photos, but unfortunately, as he told me, “I came back and [none of the pictures] turned out. The lens must have been broken or something.”
Nevertheless, it was then that he decided he wanted to be a photographer—so, in 1991, he enrolled at what was then the London College of Printing. During his time at college, Tom got involved in the squatting scene in Ellingfort Road, Hackney—a thriving community of travelers, converted vans, and derelict buildings that later became the central topic of his 1994 graduation show.
Why Is Everyone Freaking Out About MDMA?
MDMA has caused something of a stir here in the US recently. Ever since Miley bragged about “dancing with molly,” like one of those tedious nerds who brags about ripping bongs for breakfast, columnists have had a field day analyzing why we’ve all fallen in love with MD. And policy makers, concerned after a spate of MDMA-related fatalities hit the headlines, have also started to take notice.
As you might expect, not everyone has taken a deep breath, put things into perspective, and reacted in a calm, rational manner. My alma mater, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, hascanceled all EDM shows on campus. They don’t want to deal with the negative headlines and potential lawsuits that come hand-in-hand with a molly overdose. Our federal lawmakers even managed to notice the drug as they staged their drawn out game of financial and political brinksmanship.
Psytrance Rave in a Forest
In the second episode of our new Big Night Out series, Clive Martin ventures into the little-understood world of psytrance. After coming across a forest rave deep in the English countryside, he finds himself amongst swinging dreadlocks, “poi artists,” evil clowns, inexplicably posh Made in Chelsea extras, and a scrotum-headed demon.
THUMP: VICE’s New Site Devoted to Electronic Music and Everything That Goes with It
These Rappers Hate Ecstasy
When ecstasy became widely available three decades ago, it was largely consumed by suburban white kids wearing baggy cargo shorts who sucked pacifiers in abandoned warehouses, while listening to electronic music of some sort or other until they collapsed in exhaustion. Over the past decade, it seemed to fall out of favor with drug users, who veered more toward cocaine and other stimulants to fuel their partying needs. Then some narcotics-marketing genius (I’m convinced this is a real job) decided to rebrand MDMA, ecstasy’s key ingredient, as “molly,” and everyone from Kanye to Rick Ross to your little sister at this very moment is putting it in his or her mouth and asshole with reckless abandon. The hip-hop community’s embrace of the drug has been especially striking, since historical stereotypes dictate that rappers are normally more interested in chilled-out drugs like cough syrup and weed. But one hip-hop group from Brooklyn is not onboard. Stereo Marz, a trio who formed earlier this year, titled their debut track “Anti-Molly,” and the message is pretty clear: “Yo, this drug is fucking wack! / [they] ain’t fucking with that molly / and if you do you can’t come to my party.” I spoke with two of Stereo Marz’s three members, Desi Dez and Shaun “Bizy” Gabriel, about what was wrong with a drug that makes you love strobe lights and songs and sticking your tongue down some stranger’s throat all night long.
VICE: Why do you hate molly so much?
Desi Dez: I’m disgusted, in fact, very disgusted with all these artists being big advocates for this molly thing. We’re totally against that—for us, it’s weak. We don’t feel that.
Shaun “Bizy” Gabriel: The atmosphere in schools has changed in the past five years with kids doing molly. They’re selling it in candy wrappers, tricking kids.
Why do you think its popularity has increased so much over the past few years? Most rappers seem to love it.
Desi: That’s the reason! All these top-notch artists are the voice for this drug, so the younger kids see it as cool. Same with any propaganda, if it’s repeated enough, people just accept it.
Bizy: I don’t know if people are being paid to rap about molly, but I’ve heard people say that could be a possibility. It just came out of nowhere. What we do know is it’s being promoted every day.
Do you think molly will become a sort of new crack epidemic?
Desi: Definitely. It’s targeted at kids. That’s what it’s geared up for. The suppliers are going to put more stuff in to make it more addictive, and by that time, you’ve got a lost generation caught up on this, just like what the crack game did. It’s all a setup.
Do you have any parting words for rappers who can’t get enough of it?
Bizy: Man, pop the molly up your ass! We don’t respect molly.
More about molly on VICE:
Burning Man Vs. Superstorm Sandy
Union Beach, New Jersey, like much of the state, is a mess thanks to Superstorm Sandy. Its residents who are sticking it out and hoping to rebuild have to figure out a way to clear their lots of debris and condemned structures. Regular relief groups don’t provide aid for this kind of work, and contractors aren’t going to cut a break for flood victims. It has left an altruistic void, one that has been filled by a bunch of people who every year head out to the middle of a desert in Nevada to do a bunch of drugs, dress up like gay aliens, and light a bunch of shit on fire.
Yes, a small group of Burning Man enthusiasts have rapidly formed what appears to be an extremely efficient charitable organization that helps people in ways more bureaucratic organizations can’t.
VICE Presents - Raving in the Black Sea
Have you guys subscribed to our new YouTube channel yet? I mean, we’re not, like, tapping our feet and getting all impatient or anything, we just think subscribing to our channel is the best life decision you’ll ever make. Today, for instance, you would have known right off the bat that Raving in the Black Sea was our new episode of VICE Presents. You would have seen Ukranian boobs before your roommate even rolled out of bed. So that one’s on you. But don’t worry! You can still cut your losses and subscribe by clicking your clicker right here. You’ll be the first to know the whens and whats of our new life on YouTube.
Also, just a neighborly reminder here that our new show VICE Today—the one with totally original content scientifically designed for YouTube—premieres next Monday. You’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t watch it.