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We're ruining a perfectly good rave culture with 'E' at Princeton

Rumors of increased ecstasy use on campus have been flying around in the last few months. Unfortunately, the situation is difficult to investigate because no one is willing to go on record as having done it or even having known anyone who did. Shocking, isn't it?

Despite this apparent lack of information, confidential sources have told me some disturbing facts. Even here at Princeton, land of the button-down Oxford and the tight black pants, ecstasy use appears to be on the rise. I really don't care if people choose to take drugs. But I'm not publicly condoning it either. And I'm certainly not going to rant about brain damage in an outlet like this. That's a whole other jar of pills.


There are, however, compelling reasons for me to argue against the use of ecstasy on campus. Ecstasy is not merely another drug; it is an important part of a fascinating subculture that is in danger of being sacked, looted and left for dead like so many other counter-cultural movements that have come before it. In light of that, I think it's time we talked about a little thing called cultural appropriation.

Ever wonder why people on the 'Street' smoke pot? Hang on, hang on, let me rephrase that. A better way of putting it is, why pot instead of more exotic drugs like speed? As far as I can tell, this is why: Back in the earlier part of the 20th century, beatnik novelists in California wrote great books and smoked a lot of pot. Pot was easy to get from Mexico, as well as cheap and fairly harmless. Then the beatnik movement sort of gave way to the hippies. Blah blah, are you going to San Francisco, blah blah, and to make a long story short, soon there were a lot of wannabe hippies all across America who wanted to smoke pot.

Those people are your parents.

So, the reason that you also smoke pot is because your parents created this lovely supply and demand situation that has been passed down through the generations, and you with your Phish T-shirt and your skunk weed are all that remains of the beatniks' legacy. Frankly, I think it's sad that a movement that started off as a group of writers with some amazing ideas, has, over the course of 30 years, mutated into a pre-packaged lifestyle for future investment bankers, complete with its own Time-Life soundtrack.

The rave scene has incorporated elements from a large number of sources — including the underground house scene in the 1980s and the acid house scene in England from the early 1990s — but it has evolved into an enormous subculture that brings happiness to millions the world over. It has its own divisions, but for the most part, the rave scene seems to be united by two things: dance music and drugs.

Real raves happen in cool places like the middle of the desert, or a tiny island in Spain or an abandoned warehouse in New York. A ton of people get together, dance to the latest tunes under amazing light shows and consume mass quantities of chemicals. The closest I've ever come to seeing a real rave is a particularly amazing club in New York, which was a memorable sight in and of itself. To co-opt or destroy something as beautiful as that would be an outright tragedy.


Right now, we stand at a crossroads. With casual ecstasy use on the rise, it seems that Princeton is poised for an influx of rave culture. Unfortunately, as history has shown, what will probably end up happening is that, for the Class of 2020, 'E' will become just another semi-exotic drug like 'shrooms, and DJ Bob will be spinning Sasha and Digweed next to "Like a Virgin" at the Screw Your Roommate semi-formal.

So, I propose that we leave ecstasy alone, because post-war America has stolen and watered down enough counter-culture already. Let's do everybody a favor and stick to margaritas and pot. David Morris is from Oakville, Ontario. He can be reached at

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