Selected issue 3
Developments in drug use within recreational settings



Drug use and the recreational activities of young people have been linked ever since the concept of youth culture emerged in the 1960s. Research over the past two decades has shown that the prevalence of drug use in dance music settings is significantly greater than in the general population. It is such dance music settings that are the main focus of this selected issue.

The emergence of the electronic (34) dance music scene in parts of Europe during the late 1980s and 1990s brought with it an increase in the availability and consumption of ‘dance drugs’ such as ecstasy (MDMA) and amphetamines. Initially this development was at the expense of alcohol sales as early electronic dance music events were characterised as alternatives to the mainstream licensed pubs and clubs of the time. However, the drinks manufacturing and marketing industries have tapped into the lucrative dance music market and contributed to its expansion, opening it up to different social groups, especially young women. New alcoholic drinks with distinctive designs are targeted at the youth market, leading to concerns about excessive alcohol consumption in these settings, particularly when taken in combination with illegal drugs

In the European Union, high densities of dance music venues are found in cities where there are many young people with disposable income. Furthermore, the Schengen Agreement (35) has opened internal borders within the EU; this, together with cheap travel options both between and within EU countries, appears to have stimulated developments in the dance music industry (Tossman et al., 2001; Bellis et al., 2003; Hollands and Chatterton, 2003; Measham, 2004; Sumnall et al., 2004; Dutch national report, 2005; Salasuo, 2005; Nutt, 2006).

(34) Electronic music is a term for music created using computer systems and other electronic devices.

(35) The Schengen Agreement is named after the town in Luxembourg where the agreement was signed in 1985, and is aimed at creating a European ‘territory without internal borders’.