Sometimes the only solace to being in thoroughly shitty situations is having a Class-A coursing through your veins and quite possibly cranking your heartbeat. Ideally, drugs are consumed under the best possible circumstances—think a surreptitious bump on the dancefloor or a massive joint on your way home from school before promptly using a pizza pan to make a giant chocolate chip cookie with a chewy center—but occasionally things don't play out quite as we'd like.
Drugs can obviously have adverse effects on one's body—but, fortunately, pharmaceuticals can rescind said effects and return the body to a relatively neutral state. Such was the case a few years ago when I rang in the New Year with close friends at a traditional house party replete with techno and cocaine. I invited a friend I hadn't seen in ages but with whom there had always been sexual tension. The friend in question and I were never single at the same time, but her having just broken up with her boyfriend, I figured the party was a good time to make my move. At midnight, we started snogging and subsequently found a bedroom. The problem was that we'd both been doing giant lines of ching all night, and my dick had turned senescent. I figured I'd go back to hers at the end of the night anyway, so I spent a good half-hour with my head burrowed between her legs as an overture. As the night wore on and more drinks were ingested and heavier lines snorted, she informed me that, because she just moved out of her ex's apartment, she was sleeping on a friend's couch, and if we were going to do the horizontal mambo it was then or never. At this point, it was around four o'clock in the morning, and things were beginning to wind down at the party. Arguably the biggest advantage to having gay friends is that they like hard partying and having lots of sex, often at the same time, so I managed to procure a Cialis from a buddy at the party. Within 20 minutes when I felt movement in my loins, the woman and I once again ascended to the bedroom and fucked what was left of the night away. Sure, it was sloppy and my mouth tasted like an ashtray, but she probably could have done a lot worse than me at that point. We checked in with a few other people to see how they've navigated being on various substances in less than ideal situations.
Waiting in Line: MDMA
If there's one thing Viktor loves, it's the legendary Stereo Afterhours on Sainte-Catherine St. in downtown Montreal. A close second is MDMA. When Canadian techno luminary Richie Hawtin played to a sold-out crowd at Stereo a few years ago, Viktor, a journalist forced to tighten his belt, vacillated between attending the show and saving money. Unfortunately, he waited too long and missed out on a ticket, so he winged it and queued up at midnight, two hours before doors were scheduled to open. Buoyed by the prospect of a short wait and long party, Viktor swallowed an MDMA while in line. He wasn't the only one who thought they'd take a shot at entering the sold-out event. "There was a fraternity of us in line where everyone was in it together, and it ended up being kind of fun for the first little bit," said Viktor, "but half-an-hour turned into an hour, and an hour turned into two, and there wasn't really much movement.
"The problem is your mentality changes a little bit and it becomes, 'OK, how much more of this can I take, how much more is worth it?' But the balance is you've already invested this time. It's the sunk cost fallacy of partying—how long will you wait around for something that might not happen, and how much fun will you have on the dancefloor?"
If anybody has ever experienced a Montreal winter, they know anything beyond a very finite amount of time outdoors is lunacy. "One of the nice feelings of MDMA is it puts you in the clouds; you feel light, and you don't necessarily feel like you're floating, but the sensations you have with your limbs are free-flowing and you feel limber. And when you're cold, you get taken out of that."
Making matters worse for Viktor, a tall, strapping Dane, was a woman to his rear, whom he'd generously described as unattractive—"She had a massive pimple on her lip that looked like HSV-1, but it had a hair coming out of it"—took a liking to him. "I was getting felt up by this chick in line. I mean, in the beginning it was funny because she was openly fawning and acting like a giggly schoolgirl, which can be a little on the charming side, but she turned aggressive. She was grabbing my cock and my ass. Then she started repeatedly squeezing my balls from behind. It was discomfiting. I tried telling her to stop, but she was predatory. I got molested that night." After four-and-a-half hours, Viktor was finally granted entry only for Hawtin to play a short set. Worse still, a friend of Viktor's girlfriend was somewhere in the back of the line and witnessed him being sexually harassed. However, she thought it was reciprocal flirtation, and after she told Viktor's girlfriend about the quasi-concupiscent display, he was promptly kicked out of their apartment and spent the next two-and-a-half months couch-surfing.
"Fuck, man. An average night at Stereo is, like, an eight out of ten. In this case, the little music I caught was still really good, but with everything that happened that night and after, I'd rate the night a five."
Swimming in Potentially Crocodile-Infested Water: Marijuana
Lauren, a Briton who left home to escape her crushing student debt, moved to Australia at 21 and worked on a tomato farm. She met Mike at her hostel.
During a day off, Mike suggested the two walk to a mangrove forest on the outskirts of the very small town in which they lived to smoke a joint and bump uglies. "We weren't getting enough privacy in our hostel, so I figured what the hell," said Lauren, 30.
Reaching their destination meant crossing a narrow stream of water, which didn't seem problematic at the time, but given Australia's proximity to the equator, dusk descends quickly.
"I'm already unsure about being in the mangrove forest because I was warned about it, so we decided to leave when it got dark," continued Lauren.
Upon reaching the crossing, she recalled, "The tide had already come in, so that little stream becomes the width of at least 12 meters. It's like a river, flowing out with fairly strong currents and moving with the nearby ocean. The bit of water in the middle is moving quite fast.
"It was around the edge of the water that Lauren and Mike noticed what appeared to be crocodile tracks, and not having their mobiles to phone for help, they decided to go to the far edge and swim across what they suspected was crocodile-infested water—which they reasoned was less perilous than staying in the forest overnight.
Fortunately, the two made it back safely and smoked what Lauren called "The biggest, best joint of my life."Having risked her life, she admits to a silver lining.
"While we were having sex, Mike was on the bottom, so he woke up the next day literally covered by hundreds of sand fly bites and suffered from them for a week, which I took quite a lot of pleasure in since I was never too keen to go to the mangrove, for sex or otherwise, or to have to risk swimming with crocs. We didn't sleep together again."
Work Bender: Cocaine, MDMA, Speed, Ecstasy, Marijuana, Alcohol, Ketamine
Tomas, a Canadian minimal house and techno DJ, toured Europe a few years ago, and with a two-week recess halfway through, his girlfriend flew over for a visit. They started in Barcelona and finished in Berlin, where Tomas was scheduled to play a day after she left. "She left on a Wednesday, and immediately after, I decided to go out for dinner by my lonesome, which subsequently turned into drinks at a club," he said. "The owner of the club recognized me and invited me to the back where they were having a birthday party for someone. It was beautiful; we were out on the terrace, and it was sunny; a BBQ was going, and drinks were flowing. The crowd was a little more mature: mostly international touring artists in their 40s, but they liked partying, as is customary with that crowd." Being a DJ has its perks: free drugs. And before Tomas knew it, Wednesday turned into 5 PM Thursday, and under the influence of cocaine, MDMA, speed, ecstasy, ketamine, and a little booze and weed, he remembered he was scheduled to play a Berlin club in six hours. "I was scheduled to play a six-hour set that night," said Tomas. "I looked like shit, so I go back to my friend's to take a shower and get myself fixed up. I was playing that Thursday night in Berlin and a 12-hour set in Oslo the next day."
Tomas regulated his drug intake to get through the six-hour set, and with another seven hours to kill until his flight, he partied some more at the club. He rationed his drugs all the way up until his arrival at the airport, where he was trying his best to stay awake and not miss the flight.
"I was doing a line of speed every one-and-a-half hours in the DJ booth… It helped because I did 12 hours straight."
"Fuck, that was like pulling teeth," he said. "Instead of going to bed I partied more, thinking I could sleep in Oslo. But as soon as get to the airport, I'm barely functional. I get there, and my flight is delayed a couple of hours, and that breaks the whole regulating substances plan I was on because I timed everything to keep myself awake. Basically, I started passing out a bit. At this point I'm awake for 48 hours."
In spite of the hiccups, Tomas thought he'd get at least a few hours of shut-eye in Oslo to prepare him for his marathon set."I get to Oslo and feel like shit—by the way, the shower helped because you always have to look and smell good at airports—so I get to Oslo, and I'm hoping to get some sleep and then wake up and play the party, but it turns out I had to play 30 minutes after I got picked up from the airport. I'm scheduled to play from 3 PM to 3 AM."Adding to his disquiet, this was his first ever show in Oslo and he wanted to make a strong impression.
"So I was doing a line of speed every one-and-a-half hours in the DJ booth," he said. "It helped because I did 12 hours straight. It was fantastic, and we all really had fun. I was getting into 60-something hours of no sleep. It was my first time there, so I naturally went to an afterparty for a few hours and partied some more before making it back to the hotel."
In all, Tomas started his bender on Wednesday in Berlin and finished it at 10 AM on Saturday in Oslo.
"Telling you that story really makes me think I should reconsider the way I live my life."
Almost Breaking on Through to the Other Side: LSD, DMT
Tyler is a Montreal-based musician who uses his studio for, among other things, recreational drug use. Not too long ago, he and three friends were snowed in and decided to spend the rest of the day and night dropping acid.
"We were already quite experienced with drugs," said Tyler. "Suddenly we hit on the best acid ever from this one particular dealer. We take one hit each and then pretty soon after took another hit. I remember I did three in total, but one definitely would have been more than sufficient."
For Tyler, music is akin to a spiritual experience, and after dropping acid in his studio the friends began freestyle jamming together. "We would hit the right notes at the same time and it was one of the best feelings I have ever experienced," he said. "Musicianship is spiritual for me. These were moments of pure ecstasy. But I somehow suddenly blacked out afterward."
Unable to speak and experiencing memory loss, which Tyler described as losing his mind, paranoia swiftly set in. "I had absolutely no fucking idea where I was, even though it was my studio. I looked at my friends and didn't know who they were. I couldn't recognize them. I became super paranoid—a wholly negative feeling. Everyone was having a normal conversation, but I kept on thinking, When are these people going to kill me? I thought they would either induce me to kill myself or they'd murder me.
"If you like to explore these things, it's like the Holy Grail."
"Every time I tried asking them questions, like who they were and where we were, only weird guttural noises came out. I sounded like I was turbo autistic."Tyler eventually overcame his imagined speech impediment and was told that, contrary to what he'd believed, the entire universe was not solely composed of the studio chamber. "It felt like I was losing my mind, like an Alzheimer's patient would, but it slowly came back. I had previously lost every single boundary in my mind. It was like the movie Memento.
"Upon feeling better, Tyler was given a pipe containing DMT and came within psychic inches of breaking on through to the other side.
"At this point I'm having a lot of fun, especially after the experience on acid," continued Tyler. "I took a second booster hit of DMT, and that's when I saw stars and a strange, transient doorway. I was floating towards it but didn't understand its significance. I didn't understand the concept of breaking on through."
Having just restored mental equilibrium, Tyler was reticent about venturing through the door lest it thrust him into the throes of yet another bad trip. During his brief contemplation, the door receded from his floating body and vanished.
"That moment of hesitation made the door slip away, and then I heard voices around me asking how I was doing. My friends pulled me out of the state. I never got that close again in all my subsequent acid and DMT trips. At the moment, I felt refreshed but also disappointed that I didn't get to see a little more."
According to Tyler, he has discussed the fabled door with other people who claim it reveals universal truth.
Even that night, he wasn't the only one who saw it. "One of my friends that night also saw the door and was about to go through, but then one of us interrupted him. It was reciprocal though, because they fucked it for me. We all fucked it up for each other. I kept trying to get back to the door. If you like to explore with these things, it's the Holy Grail." Nevertheless, it wasn't a total waste; the DMT succored psychic dissolution of the world's physical properties and allowed Tyler to manipulate his and his friends' bodies. "I turned my friend into a giraffe, and I turned myself into a chair, which was peaceful, but I also had a runny nose and eventually got frustrated at not having the limbs to blow my own nose." To date, Tyler has not seen the door again.