Raves: The Beginning

1987. A point in time when raves did not exist. Soft rock ruled the airwaves. Nobody had considered that a thudding bass drum, four subbass thuds per bar, could constitute a foundation for popular music. Nobody had thought to combine ecstasy with music. But on a small Spanish island called Ibiza, frequented by hordes of hungry young Brits, Ecstasy and music were being combined - with surprising results.

It wasn't long before MDMA made it back to the mainland and exploded all across the UK. No other country reacted quite like it. A heady cocktail of greedy promoters, newspaper scare stories and out-of-control authorities all helped to spread ecstasy use across the country like wild-fire.

"The drugs culture took a disturbing new turn at the weekend when the biggest ever 'acid house' party was held ... As 11,000 youngsters descended on a quiet airfield in the middle of the night, drug pushers were waiting to tempt them with an evil selection of narcotics."- The Daily Mail

Huge illegal raves sprang up in fields, industrial estates, and warehouses. Tens of thousands of people attended the larger ones, convoys of cars gridlocking motorways. Organizers and ravers frequently played cat-and-mouse with police forces trying to find out the date and location of raves.

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new laws

In 1990, the British Government attempted to reduce Ecstasy use by shutting down the raves and introducing a number of new laws. When the police clamped down on illegal raves, nightclubs opened all over the UK to accommodate such raves.

Ecstasy became available in every town and city in the land.

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increased deaths

As the wide-open fields and spacious warehouses of the rave era were replaced by small over-crowded clubs, the number of deaths due to Ecstasy use began to increase.

Some unscrupulous clubs turned off the taps and even turned on the heating to force clubbers to buy bottled water. Most Ecstasy users were unaware of the physical dangers of such environments.

leah betts

In November 1995, an 18-year-old girl became a tragic symbol for the growing anti-drugs, anti-ecstasy campaign. Leah Betts died after taking ecstasy with alcohol and drinking excessive amounts of water. The campaign that followed, featuring the famous 'SORTED' poster, appeared on 1,500 billboards nationwide.

Ecstasy use doubled within the year.