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Review: Altered State – The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House – by Matthew Collin

altered state

I’ve already read a Matthew Collin book – This is Serbia Calling – so I was chuffed when I stumbled upon this work, a history of UK dance music culture. As a DJ and Promoter for 24 years I’m quite aware of a lot of the history of dance music in the UK. This book, however, filled in many of the gaps, and was a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening read. The well known story of how acid house culture came to the UK via Ibiza’s Summer of Love where Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung experienced the delight’s of Alfredo weaving magic on the White Isle and brought back their ideas to the London clubscene, is a familiar tale, often recited religiously in club culture publications like Mixmag. The author gives a comprehensive account of the beginnings and it was great to hear the true story and what bliss these guys must have experienced. Shoom, Spectrum and the Milk Bar launched successfully and the early adopters were soon welcoming new ‘Acid Teds’ and a hippy revival based on lush house electronica began to hit the mainstream. The book looks at London and Manchester in detail as well as exploring some of the less likelier destinations of UK club culture like Blackburn and later the countryside free party and rave movement. The study of the fracture of dance music into its various sub-genres and the movement of people that followed each branch provides much analysis and we see Warehouse parties, techno anarchists, drum and bass division and later the emergence of new genres like speed garage, grime and dubstep. The book focuses a lot on the role of narcotics in this new ascendant youth culture. The critical importance of ecstasy (MDMA) to the whole movement which eventually led to a massive increase and normalisation of drug culture across the country, with polydrug use becoming popular and clubbers and ravers exploring acid (LSD), cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamines and the various different types of cannabis. It’s amazing how much anti dance music propaganda was spread by the media. Governments were scared and there was a great deal of legislation set up to counter the whole movement. Enlightened masses were a danger to the establishment and the whole culture was seen as an alternative political situation. The long-running battles between promoters, DJs and the UK Police was interesting and it was…

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Police Brutality and Mental Health – PART 2

nazi jackboot

In this second post about my experiences of police brutality and mental health, I wish to discuss the nature of problems affecting diagnosed mental health victims when it comes to attempting to conventionally use police services. If you’ve ever been a mental inpatient you are probably aware that the police’s jurisdiction does not extend to mental hospitals. There is no protection for incarcerated patients no matter how many times you contact police. Therefore you are forced to deal with crime inside a hospital environment on your own. This in itself is dangerous, especially when often it is the polices themselves who have removed you to the locked environment. I suppose, it could be argued that it makes sense not to want to seek help from an organisation that works on behalf of the secret prison system that is mental health lockup. The problem I have found, is that once back in the community, attempting to build up your life, should you ever require the assistance of the police in a conventional way. To report a crime or anything else, you do not get standard service that a public user of their service might expect. This dilemma is created by, despite diagnosed mental illness not (yet) being a criminal offence, it is recorded by the police and you do show on their system as being diagnosed mentally ill. When you call 999 or 101, caller display and police monitoring systems indicate immediately and you are flagged as a ‘mentally ill’ customer. I first encountered the reality of this situation over a decade ago when, during a business dispute whereby some of my business’ equipment was illegally seized and I was attempting to recover it I was held hostage on someone else’s business premises with active threats of violence which I feared could result in murder. I felt I had no real alternative but to report the matter to the police, from a question of personal safety as much as anything else. Luckily, I had a mobile phone so I dialled 999 and reported the matter from within my locked environment. After about 15 minutes the police turned up at the location. they entered the premises where the owner was actually in the room with me. The police entered, and despite me having given a lucid sane account of the crime I alleged, the police did nothing to the person I was…

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