#atozchallenge: E is for Ecstasy…

06 Apr

a2z-badge_2016.jpg.jpegThere was a time in the ’90s…

Oh alright, if I’m going to do this, I may as well be honest about it.

The ’90s; when a large portion of our free time was spent having a very good time indeed, primarily due to our fascination with “chemistry experiments”, which my friends and I carried out with great dedication and regularity.

The second half of the ’80s had laid the foundation for all this psychedelic dabbling, with more organic (and free) debauchery made possible by the inordinate quantities of “magic” psilocybin mushrooms that grew in and around Crowborough, the rural Sussex town in which I grew up, along with the old faithful standby of acid (LSD).

Many of us had grown up with the hippy-trippy psychedelia of bands like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Ozric Tentacles, but with the new decade there came a new pretender to the throne of pharmaceutical entertainment; Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or, more simply, MDMA, the main constituent of Ecstasy.

Or “E” to its friends. And boy, did it have a lot of friends.


Initially, some of us were wary of this new addition to the pantheon of party paraphernalia, mainly because of the nature of the music it was associated with; There weren’t any guitars! But, as anyone who has been to a rave will tell you, once you’ve spent several hours in the company of hundreds of like-minded experimentalists, you realise that it isn’t the musical genre that matters, it’s the entire experience of feeling the music.

Now, I’m fully aware of how incredibly dull and pretentious it can be, reading other people’s drug stories, so I’m not going to inflict a load of new age wankiness on you (mainly because, even back then, we thought the whole new age thing was just that, a load of wank) but I’m not going to lie to you either; for those few years, it really did feel as though there was a lot more love in the world, at a time when a whole new subculture exploded into existence, almost overnight.

New trends are always viewed with sceptical cynicism, especially when the champions of such things are the younger generation. After all, what do they know about having fun? We were the hardcore party animals, there wasn’t anything they could teach us, was there? But that’s just where we were wrong, because what we learned was one of the most important lessons, that of inclusion.

Whereas the various tribes of youth culture in the past had been divided along fault lines of age and musical genre, the E Generation didn’t seem to care if you were a hippy, a mod, a punk, a metal head or none of the above; as long as you were having a good time, treated everyone with respect and didn’t cause any trouble, you were as welcome as the most devoted raver.

I probably had friends with a wider range of ages, lifestyles and musical backgrounds in those few years than in any other period in my life, before or since, and I have no doubt whatsoever that a large part of what brought us all together was something which the rest of society (the uninitiated, as I’m sure I would have thought of them at the time) considered to be an evil and depraved substance which was quite rightly illegal.
And yet the same society will happily go out and drink themselves into a stupor on Saturday night and that’s just fine and dandy, as is the strain that their perfectly legal drug of choice puts on the NHS and medical services all over the world.

It’s strange that a drug that regularly causes fights and car accidents, incites people to rape and assault each other and is responsible for untold health issues every day, is not only available on every street corner, but is even used by the government to raise taxes, yet one that results in a feeling of love and oneness with your fellow human beings is demonized by the same government.

{Obviously it would be irresponsible of me to condone the use of illegal substances by young people, so I’ll just say that these are purely my own opinions and it’s not big or clever, don’t try this at home, just say no kids, etc etc etc.}

Somebody who has covered the subject of the E Generation in a far more reflective and introspective fashion is the fabulous Cheri Lucas Rowlands and I urge you to read the beginning of her story that begins in 1997

I couldn’t possibly go without posting some music to go with this, so I’ve picked three tunes which would have been on heavy rotation in those days (despite the fact they aren’t all strictly contemporary to the period) and are still very evocative of those hedonistic years.




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19 responses to “#atozchallenge: E is for Ecstasy…

  1. Bee Halton

    April 6, 2016 at 20:17

    Sorry, can’t comment on this one at least until 2022. I have underage stepchildren 😉

    • dalecooper57

      April 6, 2016 at 20:21

      Hahaha, no problem.
      If you’ve checked your e-mail, you should already know your minion is in the post.

      • Bee Halton

        April 6, 2016 at 21:24

        I do 🙂 Can’t wait for it to arrive. Better don’t tell the children though. They already think me to be a bit bonkers with my Minion mania 🙂

  2. John Holton

    April 6, 2016 at 22:49

    And I thought ours was the only generation who did that…

  3. Cheri Lucas Rowlands

    April 7, 2016 at 00:38

    Thanks so much for the kind mention. New Order, woo!

  4. shanjeniah

    April 7, 2016 at 06:52

    My Accomplice partied with a variety of drugs, which is a frontier I’ve never crossed and likely never will, because I tend to feel very deeply and have rich sensory and imagistic experiences already. A volatile childhood with far too little control makes me not like to be wholly out of control of myself.

    But I’m fascinated by the experiences of those willing and brave enough to cross those thresholds and share their stories.

    Thanks for pulling back a veil and sharing, Dale!

    Boldly Going Through the Alphabet!
    Part-Time Minion for Holton’s Heroes
    shanjeniah’s Lovely Chaos

    • dalecooper57

      April 7, 2016 at 07:17

      I’m afraid I’ve never bought the “not wanting to be out of control” reasoning, mainly because the people who use it have never tried whatever it is they are talking about.
      That’s like refusing to try coffee because you’ve heard it will stimulate you and you only want stimulation you can control, or not watching comedy because you might laugh involuntarily.
      “Control”, where drugs are concerned, especially pharmaceutical ones, is what dosing is for. A good chemist can tailor a dose (“trip”, “hit”‘ whatever) to a specific person, with a pretty accurate expectation of what that dose is going to do.
      And in the case of illicit drugs, the “chemists” are the unofficial experts; the ones who have the experience at ensuring the doses they provide for themselves and others are safe, effective and achieve what the user wishes them to.

      I am not, of course, suggesting that drugs are for everyone, but there is no reason to believe you cannot have an enjoyable experience, remain in control and still get a representative example of the effects.

      • shanjeniah

        April 7, 2016 at 08:58

        I do understand what you’re saying. I might change my mind when my children are grown, or I might not. Truth is, I have nothing against the experimentation – I’m just into other forms of self-exploration.

        As for coffee – do NOT try to take mine away. I am a laid-back, basically pacifistic type, but I’m not small, I am strong, and I will fight for my right to coffee!

        I think maybe, for me, it’s the not knowing. I grew up never knowing when and where the next explosion was going to come from – what was going to make someone scream at me, hit me, knock me down, kick me, yank what was then very long hair –

        I don’t like when I’m watching television, and the camera angle goes off the side of a building. Feel like I’m actually falling in, and have to look away.

        The idea of experimenting with anything not pretty directly plant-derived feels like that, to me. My muscles are tensing up, just thinking about it.

        Mushrooms, eventually, might be something I’d try. The “heavier” drugs feel like skydiving to me. I don’t like climbing ladders, flying, or falling, so I really don’t need to jump out of an airplane to know that it wouldn’t be a thrill for me.

        I could be wrong, but, with a whole universe of things to experience, and just about half a good long life already experienced, I’ll probably pass on skydiving and E without regrets.

        Love, though, is good.

      • dalecooper57

        April 7, 2016 at 09:19

        Of course. Like I said, they aren’t for everyone and I wouldn’t expect anyone to try something they didn’t want to, but there is certainly something to be said for taking the advice and guidance from someone you trust and sharing the experience with them in a situation and environment that is comfortable for you.
        Even the most seasoned psychonaut ensures the comfort and relaxed atmosphere of their chosen location prior to taking a trip. You wouldn’t take acid at a Trump rally, for example ( except this guy did: )

      • shanjeniah

        April 7, 2016 at 09:44

        I wouldn’t do ANYTHING at his rally. I won’t even type that individual’s name; I’m not into feeding despotic narcissists.

        I would think that comfort and trust would be absolutely vital, for the types of voyages you’re describing. And the word psychonaut – I think I love it.

        I’m not going to watch that video, because of the speaker. I’ll take your word for it that it wasn’t a lovely experience!

      • dalecooper57

        April 7, 2016 at 10:02

        It’s not a video, it’s his description of the experience. But no, it wasn’t a fun time, by the sound of it.

      • shanjeniah

        April 7, 2016 at 10:07

        Well, if I don’t have to listen to the blathering and general ickiness, I may read it – but it might take a day or two. I need to sleep soon, because the kids and I are visiting friends 5 hours from home this weekend, and I’m the only of the three of us who drives, as yet…

        This is definitely a thought=provoking conversation!

      • dalecooper57

        April 7, 2016 at 10:10

        Every day’s a school day. ;~}

      • shanjeniah

        April 7, 2016 at 11:49

        Which is rather ironic, since, here, no day is EVER a school day. =)

        Somehow, that adds up to a lot MORE actual learning…

      • dalecooper57

        April 7, 2016 at 12:07

        Yeah, I’m very glad I didn’t experience the US “education” system.
        That’s just one more thing we are fortunate to have here, a great school system, one which actually teaches kids about cultures and places other than our own.

      • shanjeniah

        April 7, 2016 at 12:22

        My children, if they went to school, would attend the same rural New York school I attended from kindergarten through graduation. I did well enough, but I always knew it was a game I had to play, and I (along with a best friend I still have decades later, who is closer than blood) found ways to alleviate the boredom.

        One of those, incidentally, was writing Star Trek fan fiction. Before that it was drawing horses, or reading Tolkien, or…but it was always something.

        By contrast, my children have friends from all over the globe. During the Nepal earthquake, my son was quite concerned for his friend Ashish, who lives in Kathmandu. They’d shared pictures of their respective homes, talked about their lives – and played Pokemon together.

        My daughter has learned a lot about hemispheres and time differences through a group of Australian friends she regularly plays Minecraft with.

        Through unschooling, we have friends from Germany, Canada, and Taiwan – and probably more I can’t think of, right now.

        I’m amazed every day at the things they learn and do with no one telling them what to do. Yesterday, Jeremiah (14.5) decided to clean the car for our trip – doing a very thorough job that included vacuuming it – and also researched potential fixes for a problem we’ve been having with it. Now we can travel in a tidy car!


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