Pubdate: Mon, 21 Apr 2003
Source: Rolling Stone (US)
Copyright: 2003 Straight Arrow Publishers Company, L.P.
Author: Jenny Eliscu


New Anti-Rave Legislation Threatens Concert Industry

Raves today, Phish fests next?

Dance clubs, concert halls and even outdoor festivals are in danger of 
being put out of business thanks to a new piece of legislation that passed 
in Congress on April 10th. According to the bill, any individual who owns 
or operates a venue where audience members are using drugs could be sent to 
jail or subjected to steep fines.

Sponsored by senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and 
Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), the bill was tacked onto the Amber Alert Act, 
concerning child abductions -- a move opponents say was intended to avoid 
close scrutiny. (The new law is a revision of an earlier proposal known as 
the RAVE Act, an acronym for Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy.)

"It isn't just a threat to the rave community," says William McColl, 
director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, "but to any 
community that isn't liked by the majority -- hip-hop events, gay and 
lesbian circuit parties, even rock & roll shows like the Grateful Dead or 

McColl acknowledges it could be years before anyone is prosecuted but says 
the law may scare off promoters and keep them from holding raves. Biden was 
unavailable for comment, but his office directed Rolling Stone to speak 
with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

"We're not anti-rave," says that group's spokesman, Howard Simon. "This 
isn't like John Lithgow in Footloose telling people, 'Good God, don't 
dance.' This could help authorities to go after the few bad apples turning 
a winking blind eye to drug use."

Donnie Estopinal, the New Orleans promoter who was unsuccessfully 
prosecuted in 2000 under the federal "crackhouse statute," doesn't see it 
that way. "This law will definitely have an effect on whether promoters can 
get access to venues," he says. "Just the threat of being prosecuted is 
enough to scare people away.

"We already search the hell out of everybody," he continues. "It's harder 
to get into a rave than it is to get on an airplane. We're forced to treat 
our customers like criminals before they even get in the door." 
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