By Anjora Sarangi:
More than 300 youngsters of the age group 20-25 years were rounded up in a police raid in a rave party at a hotel in Maharashtra. In another incident in a Chennai suburb, seven people were arrested including six Nepali citizens for hosting a rave party in the wee hours of the night. The police have also claimed to have rescued nine women of Nagaland and Assam from the place. One of them who posed as an employment agent is being suspected to be running a prostitution racket.
Occurrences such as these have become commonplace in newspapers today. In this stressful, hectic, demanding, multitasking era, partying has become a necessity especially among the youth to temporarily escape reality and lose oneself within the comforts of dance, music, drinks and friends. Recently, a new form of partying has entered the lexicon of Indian culture called ‘Rave Party’. A rave is an electronic music dance party that lasts all night. It can feature performances from DJs or live music performers. Raves usually take place in dark rooms filled with laser lights, strobes at clandestine locations including warehouses, nightclubs, and farm fields. Law enforcement agencies suspect a lot of drugs, including Ecstasy, which do the rounds at a rave. These parties first became popular in Great Britain back in the late 1980s. Moral policing apart, it’s the drug bit that’s perhaps the most disquieting.
In India, Goa was the first to receive the rave party culture introduced by the Hippies. The nightlife of Goa is a major attraction for tourists and the beaches are a hotspot for organizing parties. These parties are sometimes termed ‘trance parties’. The rave culture has spread like wild fire to almost all parts of the country including the small districts and towns.
Though rave culture is not synonymous with drug abuse and alcoholism but there is rampant drug peddling especially by foreigners. And the business is flourishing. It is a difficult task to monitor drug peddling and as a result over the past few years many urban middle class youngsters have taken to harmful substances called ‘club drugs’ including Ecstasy, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), ketamine, and Rohypnol which are said to enhance energy, endurance, confidence, sociability and sexual arousal. Each of these drugs has different psychological and physiological consequences due to its inherent properties. The effects of these drugs range from relatively minor disorders like hypertension, agitation, anxiety, nausea, confusion to major problems like coma with abrupt awakening and violence, schizophrenic symptoms, liver toxicity, catatonia and even death. One of these drugs, Rohypnol also known as the ‘date rape drug’ is a sedative which is colourless, tasteless and easily dissolvable thereby effortlessly allowing the perpetrator to slip it into the victim’s beverage. Several instances of rape and sexual molestation go unawares due to the victim’s inability to remember details and the subsequent lack of proof.
In India, little attempt has been made to successfully conduct analysis about rave parties and the nitty-gritties in them, however, it has been seen that it is primarily the neo-rich middle class youth that is taking to this mode of partying. The common assumption that such a culture is restricted to urban areas is highly flawed since there has been a growing trend of raves in small cities and towns over the last few years. The age of youngsters attending rave parties is coming down and instances of rape, substance abuse, drug peddling, drunken driving leading to accidental deaths is growing with each passing year. Peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons why teenagers are falling into this abyss of drinks, drugs and sex. In a recent episode, the son of a famous Bollywood star was arrested after a police raid at a rave party. Such events instead of deterring essentially end up glorifying the rave culture.
While there is no moral judgment involved in the ethos of partying, clubbing or enjoying life the way one wants to, it is always wise to be aware of what one is signing up for and not be ultimately caught up in an inextricable mesh and fall prey to inebriation, drug peddling and unwanted or forced sexual encounters from which there may be no way back.