The "Ecstasy Experience": A Case Study of the Contextual Components of Dance Clubs and Club Drug Use

Dina Perrone, Rutgers University

Research as far back as Howard S. Becker's The Outsiders has shown that the perceived effects of drugs are not only derived from the pharmacological properties of the drug themselves, but also from the social settings in which they are consumed. Recently, there has been concern about the increase in Ecstasy (MDMA) use and its association with dance clubs. However, we have very little knowledge about this phenomenon. This paper investigates the relationship between the contextual components of dance clubs and Ecstasy use, and argues that the drug, Ecstasy, is just one component of this dance club culture. This paper explores how the dance club design, and the interactions between the DJ, the dance club performers, the bouncers and the club patrons create the "Ecstasy experience." Qualitative data was obtained through interviews and a series of observations at a New York City "mainstream" dance club.

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Updated 05/20/2006