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Wednesday August 31st, 2011

Police raids have been affecting the rave scene since its inception. In Montreal, since 2002, there had been more and more busted parties, up until about 2 years ago when the number of busts per year dwindled from 12 to 4. However, the reasons for the party-pooping has changed dramatically.

When the Techno scene first caught the eye of law enforcement, it was immediately judged as another mecca for the drug culture. With the advent and subsequent popularity of Ecstasy and then Speed, the rave scene quickly became synonymous with pill-popping and drug abuse. Later, many forms of drugs would be accepted and consumed in and around rave culture, such as LSD, Marijuana, Ketamine, Magic Mushrooms, Cocaine, 2CB, and more obscure substances. However, certain of the more dangerous drugs rarely made it through the fence of better judgement and into the hands of ravers, such as Heroine and Crystal Meth, though it is not unheard of.

Through the early to mid period of rave parties, many events were driven by drug dealers, or associates of drug dealers. This reporter refuses to state any names or examples for fear of reprisals from certain dangerous men. Soon after the turn of the last century, the police raided many parties, but undercover cops caught and arrested only a half dozen drug dealing minions. Unable to cause any real impact on drug consumption, due to the fact that both dealers and ravers became more and more subtle and ingenious, the Montreal Police turned to the Fire Department. They decided that if they couldn't stop the bad elements of rave culture, they would simply stop the parties entirely. The result was a string of raves being shut-down before they even began, as Fire Inspectors arrived on scene in the late evening only to decide that the venues were not safe nor up to date with the city's fire code. After thousands of dollars lost, reputations ruined, ravers frustrated, and no parties for months, certain promoters fought back by inviting the Fire Inspector to their locations beforehand, giving them time to put their venues up to code. This worked for a time, but most of the scene had already given up.

Fast forward a few years, and people who were both frustrated and dedicated passionately squared their shoulders and tried desperately to bring the scene back to life. It actually worked, until they grew big enough to fall back onto the police's radar. Another series of busts, a few venues completely shut down. Backed up by the City Of Montreal, now the Police had discovered and new weapon to close locations, the permit. It was around this time that alcohol began rearing its head in the rave scene.

Fast forward one more time a few more years, and we arrive to very recent history and the present. The drug culture is no longer the driving force behind the rave scene. Promoters now stand on their own two feet, often stating 'No Drugs Allowed' on their flyers in order to dissuade both gangsters and the police from invading their events. Drugs are still present in the scene quite obviously, but alcohol is also if not more the norm. However, now when the police arrive to hinder or observe an event, their first priority is alcohol. They no longer bust dealers, they no longer pat-down patrons to seize pills, they look for beer bottles and hard liquor. They arrive under the flag of the almighty permit. A few events have already been shut down this year because of an abundance of alcohol on site coupled with the lack of a liquor license. The cops no longer even look for glassy eyed ravers who are obviously high on drugs, they simply look for glass bottles.

The Police's original excuse for busting up parties has always been noise pollution. But, as a weapon it's like bringing a chain to a bazooka fight, as promoters are very well capable of adjusting their volume in accordance with the law. The Fire Code justification quickly became obsolete as promoters were capable of finding and then following those rules. Drugs have never been a good excuse to shut down any event, as the dealers are rarely the promoters or venue owners, on top of which drugs are less and less prevalent in the scene. So, now with the ever stricter laws on alcohol, and the City's hard take on the necessity of permits, the police have the ultimate weapon. Unless, of course, there is no alcohol at your event. Still, many people find it odd that the one thing everyone assumes is the problem with the rave scene, the evil dark side of it that steals your children's souls, the drugs, are nearly ignored by the Police. Wherein, the one legal substance consumed by ravers, alcohol, is being used by the police to enforce City laws that are in place for the bar and restaurant industries.

One promoter who's party was busted up because too many people in the permit-less venue were consuming alcohol stated ''It's absolutely ridiculous. We can do drugs in parties, but can't drink! Beer is legal! It's on sale at every bar, every restaurant, every grocery store, depanneur, and concert venue. Probably in the damn Bingo halls too! But we can't have people come into some random building after having bought their own shit - it's not like we're selling it - and drink it inside, as if they were at home. Why not?''.

It would seem that in the Province of Qu├ębec, the only 10% of places you're not allowed to drink at are the only 10% of places you'd really like to get drunk at. It's alright though, 'cause you can still get high just about anywhere.
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