Raving Without Ecstasy: Is It Even Possible?

Ravers at Together As One.
Ravers at Together As One.
Caesar Sebastian

Following our weekend report about the 62 medical emergencies and 25 arrests at the annual "Together As One" New Year's Eve rave, several commenters weighed in to accuse us of being biased.

After all, these megaraves are just good clean fun for the whole family, and other events have created just as much havoc. One reader, reacting to our cover story on megaraves, listed a host of rock concert tragedies (Altamont!), most of which were from the last millennium. Another stated that big NASCAR races produced more hospitalizations.

Oookay. Here's our point:

Love 'em or hate 'em, the big parties (four happen annually) at the publicly owned L.A. Coliseum and Sports Arena produce about one ecstasy death and a few hundred medical emergencies each year. Like clockwork.

We're not talking about one-off concerts from the 1970s or Berlin megaraves that have since been canceled. We're talking about regularly occurring, officially approved raves on public property that consistently produce deaths and overdoses.

The numbers produced by Together As One, while tamer than the much larger Electric Daisy Carnival in summer, were par for the course, despite a host of new rules placed on the parties by the L.A. Coliseum Commission (tighter security, 18-and-up, more medical personnel).

A U.S. Centers for Disease Control report on 2009's year's TAO stated that 18 people went to hospitals with symptoms of drug overdoses, mostly as a result of ecstasy usage.

This year the Los Angeles Fire Department reports that of the 62 medical emergencies it looked at, 17 people were hospitalized.

It's not yet clear what proportion of those people had used ecstasy, but as you can see, the numbers are not surprisingly different from year to year (although the 2009 saw one drug-related death days later).

Okay, so if we're going to green light these things (and that's fine by us), let's do so with eyes wide open, m'kay.

What's strange to us is that supporters of megaraves state that if kids are going to party and take ecstasy, it's better to do so on public property, where paramedics and cops are around to keep an eye on them. Smaller,"underground" parties are much more dangerous, they say.

Seriously? We looked into it. The number of ecstasy related deaths from small, underground events in L.A. we could find in the last five years: 0.

What's more, some party experts told us for our cover story that young people gear up for these megaraves like they're the parties of a lifetime. They do things they wouldn't normally do at a smaller event.

In fact, the funniest comment we received was from Strangeling2011, who, in response to a comment by a self-described sober raver, asks:

One question...if you've been raving sober for two years, how do you keep up with everyone? I found it so difficult to just be IN IT for the entire night. SOO much easier when you take any energy supplements?

Indeed. Is raving without ecstasy even possible?

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