The Hard Lessons I Learned Sober Raving
Confessions of a reformed party girl.
Nightlife doesn't need drugs to thrive, but they're pretty good sisters. You could argue that every musical revolution worth giving a fuck about can be traced to whatever drug that generation was getting loaded on at the club. Listen to how hazy marijuana coils through the heady notes and cool tones of 20s and 40s jazz; how acid picked up rock & roll and flipped it sideways in the 60s; how 90s rave pounds like a heartbeat racing on ecstasy. Arthur Baker once told me that many 80s synth pop songs have their mids and highs cranked up because that's what yakked out people liked to hear. As VICE writer Clive Martin put it, "Kraftwerk may have brought the synths, Jesse Saunders may have brought the beat, but Sasha Shulgin brought the feeling." And if you've ever found yourself under a disco ball with a blotter stuck under your tongue, you know that once you've tasted that freedom, you're hooked.
Despite decades of fear-mongering and racially targeted policing, drugs remain America's greatest muse. That's because, more than tickets to reckless hedonism or chemical masturbation for your brain, the right drugs—like good raves—can be a form of radical political resistance. They rewire your neural pathways to pave new ways of thinking. They open your eyes to see past economic, gender, and racial divisions. They offer an escape hatch from your pathetic meat sack of a body, reminding you that you're connected to a greater collective whole. Fuck going to bed at a reasonable hour to spend your days hunched in a corporate cage, your druggie inner voice whispers. Stay out late, and let your self-obsessed ego dissipate on the dancefloor.
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