The Media's Misconception Of Dance Music And Drug Culture In Ireland

Dance Music can be a difficult thing to understand at the best of times, unconventional electronically made music that is best experienced in a dark club, played by guys who have spent most of their formative years in their basements making music rather than playing it. Fundamentally it's a hard concept to grasp for most people, but considering our close neighbours in the UK went through something similar 20 years ago with 'rave culture' it's hard to fathom why we haven't taken any measures to ensure we don't make the mistakes they made in the past.

This Article stems from what happened last night in the Odyssey arena in Belfast, where  what's being described as a 'major incident' occurred while Dutch DJ, Hardwell was performing. 20 young people were taken to hospital after being declared 'ill'. Of course, the media will have a field day, and already articles from journalists, who, with no knowledge of dance music or the culture involved take pride in brandishing all lovers of the genre and gig goers as drug fuelled anarchists. The blame doesn't necessarily lie with the people, and although some aren't doing themselves any favours, it's a common misconception amongst people outside of the scene that it these incidents wholly rest on their shoulders. There are a few things that need to be understood before the masses interject and comment on a culture they simply don't understand.

Not Everybody Is On Drugs 

Drugs are  obviously a huge part of the dance music scene, dating all the way back to the coke-fuelled days of disco. The rave scene in the UK ran tandem with the rise of MDMA and acid use in the UK, and the same can be said about what's going on at the raves and festivals that people flock to in the United States and around Europe. That said, everyone there is not high. You don't need drugs to enjoy dance music. It's not a requirement, and all the while, as the media lambast and label passionate dance music fans as druggies, all that is happening is that the culture is becoming more and more about the drugs involved, rather than the music from which it stemmed.

It Doesn't Promote Drug Use

It needs to be said, Dance Music doesn't out-right promote taking drugs, not any more than say, a hip-hop or rock night might. Ravers go to shows and take drugs... just like rap fans do, just like rock fans do. It's a part of MUSIC, and shouldn't be relegated to dance music and while there have been overdoses at parties big and small, one thing that many promoters stress on a monumental level is not to take drugs. At Electric Picnic last year, where all genres of music were on show, we saw several drug related incidents, this to me shows that it's more a problem with drug taking in Irish society, which can and should be sorted out, rather than passing blame onto EDM and dance music fans but I suppose that's what the media and government do isn't it? They need someone to blame who isn't themselves.

It seems that until the solution is abstinence (which is hugely unlikely), harm reduction , or something revolutionary, the fact remains that a cycle of drug-related incidents, followed by media hyperbole of said drug related incidents, and internal commentary on prevention so as to avoid the cold glare of the media, seems inevitable.


I am by no means proclaiming the innocence of “ravers” and dance music fans any more than I am proclaiming the innocence of any late night scene anywhere else in the world, but the idea that anyone in a club or at a big gig is just a “druggie” who has no self control is ludicrous, and it needs to be put to rest, at least until a solution is proposed by those who bemoan it most.


In the past hour , Hardwell's concert in Edinburgh, due to take place tomorrow, has been called off in the wake of the incidents in Belfast, the organisers, along with the Edinburgh city council released the following statement...

"Due to the situation in Belfast on Thursday 6th February, it was decided that the event in Edinburgh should not go ahead due to safety concerns. We will give more details next week regarding either a rescheduled show or the refund procedure. We thank you for your understanding at this time".

So the first of how many gigs has been cancelled in the wake of this presumed drug related incident... Is this the stance that's being taken going forward?


Cover photo courtesy of

Shane Johnston
Article written by
Editor for CollegeTimes, UCD graduate and music lover. [email protected]

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