Pubdate: Mon, 14 May 2001
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2001 The Ottawa Citizen
Bookmark: (Raves)


It's 11 o'clock: Do you know where your children are? Last month, 
Ottawa council unanimously passed a bylaw regulating raves, the 
all-night dance parties where young adults dance till dawn, tripping 
out on hallucinogenic drugs. Though some ravers have thrown their 
glow sticks in the air in disgust, the council decision is a wise one.

The councillors didn't ban raves: They set a few simple rules to 
ensure the safety of the people who attend the events.

Raves are all-night parties normally held in warehouses and old 
buildings, secretive events where young adults move trance-like to a 
throbbing beat.  Dressed in colourful, playful clothing and adorned 
with plastic bobbles and pacifiers, hundreds or thousands of teens 
attend each event.

The new bylaw says organizers of raves in Ottawa have to buy permits, 
have their buildings inspected, hire security guards and deny entry 
to anyone under 16. Sound familiar?

Bars require licences, they have to meet building regulations, 
they're open for inspection. Same goes for concert venues. It only 
makes sense that raves face some kind of regulation as well, and meet 
the safety standards set for other similar events.

And after years of horror stories about raves, it's about time.

Some organizers turn off the water or crank up the heat to force 
patrons to buy expensive bottled water, increasing the risk of 
dehydration for people who are dancing non-stop all night. Some raves 
are held in old buildings with inadequate washrooms, and without 
enough emergency exits.

The new bylaw should ensure that going to a rave will be no more 
dangerous than going to an all-day concert, or hanging out at a bar.

But the new bylaw wasn't prompted only by the inadequate facilities 
of raves, which have been going on for years. It's the prevalence of 
drugs that's concerning most adults.

According to Ottawa police, the majority of people at raves are high. 
Ecstasy, Liquid E, and Special K are some of the drugs of choice, all 
providing feelings of euphoria and hallucinogenic effects, and all 
having ill side-effects exacerbated by heat and dehydration.

There have been 14 deaths linked to the designer drugs used at raves 
in the past two years. The Ottawa bylaw was spurred by an inquest 
last year into the death of 21-year-old Allen Ho, who died after 
taking Ecstasy at a Toronto rave.

With that disturbing information, many parents would like to see the 
drug-happy parties banned altogether. But that wouldn't solve the 
problem:  It would send raves back underground where they started.

Toronto tried that last year. Led by crusading Mayor Mel Lastman, 
Toronto council banned raves on city property. Thousands of ravers 
took to the streets in protest, and the ban was dropped.

And raves do have some positive aspects. Compared to the drunken 
brawls outside bars, there is relatively little violence, and the 
dancers follow the mantra of PLUR: peace, love, unity and respect. 
There is no alcohol at the events, and most kids take buses or use 
designated drivers. And despite the moral panic caused by media 
attention and the prevalence of drugs, there actually aren't that 
many kids attending raves.

In a recent Angus Reid survey of 3,500 youths aged 16-29, five per 
cent had attended one or more raves in the past year, and one per 
cent went on a regular basis. Only 50,000 Canadians are regular 

Raves and Ecstasy are this generation's red-flag words, like acid and 
love-ins in the '60s, heroin and discos in the seventies, and 
cannabis and mosh pits in the eighties.

It's not up to council to decide what kids can and cannot do, and 
Ottawa councillors wisely steered clear of making the bylaw too 

What council can do is set ground rules aimed at protecting the 
safety of the city's young citizens. With the raves bylaw, the city 
has done precisely that.
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