Last week, the music industry descended upon Ibiza to celebrate its position as one of the electronic music capitals of the world. At Pete Tong’s International Music Summit, newcomers and old-timers spoke fondly of the surreal island that has been showing the world how to party for decades.

There is of course a more controversial side to the hedonistic spirit of the White Isle, and few have investigated the connection between dance music and drugs with such candour as B. Traits. The lilac-haired Radio One DJ and producer from Canada has recently interviewed users and dealers in the BBC Three documentary ‘How Safe Are My Drugs?’ and hosted her ‘State of Mind’ panel at IMS last week.

In an effort to explore alternative solutions to what has been dubbed ‘The War on Drugs’, to expose the dangers of both illegal and legal highs and to lift the general taboo, she invited four drug experts onto the stage (one of whom was the anonymous Doctor Zee, a drugs scientist and the inventor of mephedrone.) Her panel was more than an investigation, it was a call to action: “It’s a subject which is swept under the carpet but we need people to stand up.”

After her panel, we caught up with the DJ to find out more.

SUITCASE MAGAZINE: The electronic music industry is synonymous with drug culture. Has Ibiza been made or broken by drug tourism? B-TRAITS: A lot of people come here to party and I think you have to expect it a little bit. Drugs play a very big part in party culture and that’s a global thing, not just an Ibiza thing.

SM: Do you think DJs that have residencies in Ibiza have a responsibility to address drug usage? BT: Definitely. I think every event, club, or collective that hosts a night needs to take responsibility. We can’t take responsibility for what people put in their bodies, but we can make the events/venues as safe as possible. Something that I found difficult while making the documentary and on research in preparation for the panels is getting people in this industry to stand up and talk about it. It’s a subject which is swept under the carpet but we need people to stand up, step forward and help make a change.

SM: What’s the perception of Ibiza in Canada? BT: I’ve always know about Ibiza for it’s incredible dance music scene; the residencies, super clubs and the after parties. The atmosphere here is unlike anywhere else. The residency nights are legendary and I’ve been hearing about them since I was 14 years old. From Sven Väth, to the terrace at Amnesia, to the earlier nights at Pacha. I just remember buying Mixmag and DJmag and seeing all of the party flyers with the most insane lineups of DJs. I had no idea of the calibre of the parties until I got here though. I finally made my first trip in 2011 and Cocoon was mind-blowing.

Drugs play a very big part in party culture and that’s a global thing, not just an Ibiza thing.

SM: A lot of big DJs now have residencies in Las Vegas. Do you think it’s still the ultimate accolade to have a residency in Ibiza? BT: It depends on the music style. There’s a lot of money in Vegas and, I suppose, more EDM style DJs do well there. But I don’t affiliate good dance music with Vegas, I’m not sure I ever will. For me, Ibiza has been a breeding ground for some of the most iconic movements in dance music. Growing up, I always wanted to come to Ibiza specifically, to experience it for myself.

SM: On your panel, there were different views on drug decriminalisation. Where do you stand on the spectrum and what realistic steps do you think could be taken? BT: Drug decriminalisation, legalisation and people not being caught for possession. Very recently in Holland, they sold Placebo MDMA in a shop to show how you could go and purchase it legally from a trusted retailer and get valuable information on contents, purity, dosage, side effects, help info etc. They have signs everywhere in Amsterdam – if there is a strain of MDMA or cocaine which has been flagged up, they put up signs telling people to bring the drugs in, and they state that you will not be arrested or charged. Having that open dialogue is what the UK needs.

SM: Are you speaking from experience when you speak about drugs? BT: I experimented loads when I was a younger. People, youth, kids – they’re always going to want to experience an altered state of consciousness and young people are particularly curious about that. It’s not my place to say ‘don’t do drugs’; what I’m saying is, if you are choosing to do drugs, do them safely. I hope that one day there will be a safe – trusted party drug out there, but right now the best thing we can do is get on site drug testing in place at as many events and venues as possible so people can have the option to learn more about what they are putting into their bodies, and make an informed decision for themselves.

“It’s not my place to say ‘don’t do drugs’; what I’m saying is, if you are choosing to do drugs, do them safely.”

SM: What can festivals do to prevent drug-related incidents? BT: Drug testing should be mandatory at all festivals. The UK is the capital of dance festivals and it seems crazy that we don’t have a better system in place. So far, we have what we call ‘halfway house’ testing, which is what The Loop at Warehouse Project in Manchester currently practice. It’s where they test drugs that have been deposited into amnesty bins and drugs that have been confiscated at the entrance. If there is anything dangerous discovered upon testing, like for example ecstasy tablets containing PMA or PMMA, or an unusually high purity of MDMA, signs are posted around the venue and warnings are sent out on social media. This ‘halfway house’ testing can sometimes be too late though, because if dangerous drugs are found during the night of the testing, it’s likely similar drugs are already being passed around.

I believe with a more open dialogue approach we can get the warnings out much sooner and direct to the potential user. We spoke about ‘Front of House’ testing during the panel at IMS, which is where you will be able to take your drugs to a station, they will test them for you right then and there. They will be able to tell you the contents, purity, and will offer informed information on side effects and where to get help if you are not feeling well.

SM: How would front-of-house drug testing affect the music industry? BT: Events will be safer and I believe we will reduce the amount of drug related deaths drastically. In Canada, where they offered legal testing at a few festivals they found that once people found out what was in their drugs, they were much less likely to take them. Festivals still need to take precautions in making sure they have the right paramedics on site and at every stage. There have been times at a festival where there is a kid on the ground and security can’t touch them because they have to wait for the paramedics. This shouldn’t be happening, all security should be educated on how to deal with any situation.

Imagine if you could go to a festival or event, take your drugs to a testing facility or tent, and they could tell you exactly what was in your drugs – what a suggested dosage would be for your weight, what you should not mix it with, if alcohol would react with it, what to do if you did too much and where to get help if you did. A lot of drugs have some weird shit in it – imagine if they found paint scrapings in your drugs – would you take it?

 

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