RANT & RAVE: SEPTEMBER | DJMag.com Skip to main content

RANT & RAVE: SEPTEMBER

Should DJs who have never taken illegal drugs be banned from the decks?

Dance music used to be all about getting off your chops to some amazing futuristic electronic sounds. The DJs would get as fucked up as the punters — if only at the after-parties — and clubbers would come from all walks of life.  But that has changed

The dance music explosion was inextricably linked with the democratisation of drug-taking: in the 60s, only a few hundred were actually 'swinging', but when dance music hit big in the 90s literally millions started getting off their faces at weekends. DJs started behaving like drugged-up rock stars — and so did the clubbers too. Even if they didn't keep it up for too many years, DJs had their rites of passage getting spangled — it was partly why everyone got so into it in the first place, right

Every youth culture has its drug of choice — to begin with, it was ecstasy for dance music. There were exceptions, but most people who got into the scene at least tried ecstasy. It was the missing ingredient — it's what made the whole scene make sense. Everyone tried E — DJs, promoters, clubbers, policemen, politicians, tokers, bankers, thieves. It wasn't sustainable in the long term for most (who had jobs to go back to), but was invariably the icing on the cake during a night out when in the ecstasy honeymoon period.

These days, though, some of the main DJs seem like they'd be more at home bean-counting in a fucking bank. In fact, gak-toting bankers are more rock & roll than a lot of DJs today. A lot of the top DJs don't do drugs anymore — fair enough, they've got a lot of stuff to concentrate on, if they're actually mixing their own fucking tracks. But DJs who have never done drugs at all — what's that all about?

Big DJs do have a certain degree of responsibility as role models not to publicly evangelise drug use. But FFS — “I don't do drugs, I've never done drugs, and I don't even drink! Never have done, never will!” These aren't the words of a DJ, this is a mantra that only the most po-faced of vicars would bleat. You're in the wrong game, sunshine — fuck off back to your monastery.

Surely you don't fully understand the dynamics of a dancefloor unless you've been right down there in the thick of it? Rushing off yer tits, going for it, hugging strangers, reaching for the lasers. A dance event is a party, for chrissakes, not a frigging wake. People drink at wakes anyway. How can a DJ never have tried a mind-altering substance? And what's more, these puritanical DJs tend to be into trance or EDM — you NEED to be on drugs to put up with the excruciating sounds you hear at those sorts of parties!

You know how athletes, cyclists and other sporty types have to take drug-tests after events? Well, I think DJs should have to take drug-tests before events. If they HAVEN'T consumed some sort of illegal substance in, say, the past five years, then they shouldn't be allowed in the fucking club. Simple as. The drug-test could be supplemented by some sort of quiz — like a citizenship test. If they haven't done any drugs ever, then they obviously don't share our values. They're not allowed in, their name's not down — they can fuck off back to the gym or health farm.

Now, I'll 'fess up. This rant isn't entirely serious. I know there are issues with alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health, depression and so on. People abstain from drink and drugs for all sorts of reasons. But isn't it just a bit nauseating when you hear a DJ saying that they've never ever indulged — they've never even got drunk, not even when they were 15! What sort of people are we taking our musical cues from these days?

Of course, the main reason it's nauseating hearing a DJ say they've never done drugs is that they're probably more successful than you. All those years of computer geekery and tune-filing is paying off for them, while you're scratching around looking for your next fifty bucks to buy another wrap. Who's actually the real loser here?

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