As we drove to Niagara Falls to celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence, we carried with us a combined 26 hits of MDMA, 8 grams of cocaine, 2 ounces of marijuana, 10 lt. of hard alcohol, 20 assorted energy drinks, plus the bottle of champagne I had purchased for the occasion. There were 14 of us in all: four cars, four hotel rooms.
As I made my way down the highway, cigarette hanging out of my mouth, screaming and swearing at the long-weekend traffic, there was a brief moment where I felt like Dr. Hunter S. Thompson himself. I know we pale in comparison to the galaxy of uppers downers screamers and laughers afforded by Dr. Thompson on his infamous trip down to Las Vegas, but for a group of overworked, underpaid, and unsatisfied 23 year olds, I was quite pleased by what I considered a comparable collection, knowing the spirit of his generation is still alive in today’s youth.
It was the last day of June, and by this point each of us had been exposed to the depressing reality that is the post-university world for a couple of months. You could feel the tension as we made our way down the highway; friends were bickering with friends, girlfriends were having unnecessary arguments with their boyfriends, and everyone was constantly complaining about the slow pace of traffic.
We were the last car to leave from Toronto, the ‘working shift’ as they called it, because each of us had a 9-5 job that we couldn’t miss. As I sat there and listened to each person, one after the next, complain about their jobs, I concluded that those in my car were likely the ones that needed this evening away the most.
The one and a half hour drive during long-weekend rush hour traffic took nearly three, most of which time was spent arguing with the rest of the group who wanted to go for dinner without us. By the time we arrived it was already 7:30, and though they decided to wait for us everyone was quite vocal about his or her disappointment in our timing, as if we had any control over the situation. The fact that dinner took an hour and a half didn’t put anyone in a positive mood either, nor did the overpriced menu and tasteless food. Needless to say the dinner conversation was equally as bland.
After dinner we checked into our hotel rooms. While majority of us decided to save some money and stay at the Best Western, only Klive, in his infinite wisdom and unlimited resources, decided to stay at the Hilton instead. I later realized he was likely trying to impress the one unknown girl in the group, the blonde haired tag-along friend of a friend who happened to be staying in his room for convenient logistical reasons.
I, on the other hand, was rooming with Tracy, the man plagued with a woman’s name. He and I shared a house together at university, and in many ways he was a quieter, shyer, less obnoxious version of myself. He and I shared a love for marijuana, heavy drinking, and video games. We even had a similar tendency to occasionally submit to Klive’s peer pressure. Though neither of us has yet to say yes to Klive when he hands us a rolled up dollar bill and points to the coffee table, I was the only one of us to have tried Molly. The 8 grams of coke was mostly for Klive and his 3 roommates, but only two members of the 14-person group declined the pills he had arranged for us.
It had been almost nine months since my last dance with the crazy bitch known as Molly, more commonly referred to as MDMA. In the words of Klive, I was ‘revirginized’ to the drug. While my hesitation towards deejays hadn’t changed in that time, the fact that the ticket and hotel room together were cheaper than seeing Deadmau5, combined with the fact that Tracy was willing to try it as well as 8 other first-timers, made it an opportunity not worth passing up.
This time it was only $30 to see some techno deejay named ‘Avicii.’ It was cheap considering how expensive Deadmau5 tickets were, but I still thought I was over-paying to hear some Swedish dude press play on his greatest hits collection and make a public appearance.
The only question that remained for a few others and myself was how much Molly we could handle. We had enough for everyone to take two pills, though Klive and an equally ridiculous human being named Harold had previously announced they had each reserved three. I still hadn’t decided. I really couldn’t tell how much would be appropriate.
The mood started to lighten up a bit as the six men began to drink while the girls were getting ready. We were halfway through our second bottle of whiskey when the girls told us to meet them at the front door. When we got there they weren’t waiting for us as they had promised, so I went to buy a pack of cigarettes. I wasn’t surprised when I returned to find the men still standing there waiting.
We arrived at Klive’s suite at the Hilton at approximately 10:15 to find Klive and a few others in the living room bent over a coffee table filled with white lines and rolled up dollar bills. After I said my hellos I asked where I could find the Molly, he informed me it was in a drawer in the bedroom.
The bedroom, which was located at the back of the hotel room on the 29th floor, had a spectacular floor-to-ceiling view overlooking the falls. When I finally opened the drawer he was referring to I found two little green dime bags filled to the brim with clear capsules, stuffed with a familiar looking powder. I took one out and was about to swallow it before Klive stopped me.
“Not a good idea bro,” he said, standing at the doorway.
“Why not?” I asked.
“You don’t wanna take that now, trust me.”
“Really? Why not?” I asked.
“Trust me, if you take it now you’re going to be peaking in line, you don’t want to peak in line.”
“But I was gonna take one now and see how I feel in an hour before we leave, and decide if I should take another.”
“Trust me bro,” he said once again, this time looking me directly in the eyes, “you don’t want to take it now.”
I looked back at his coked out expression and considered if it was even possible for him to give me sound advice at the moment. On the other hand, he is the veteran of the group when it comes to this stuff.
“Fine,” I finally said,” I’ll take it later.”
Still aggravated from the long drive and longer workday I was looking to get as intoxicated as possible as quickly as possible. I nearly finished the remaining half of the Jack Daniels bottle, which I had started with the boys earlier, while chasing it with my usual can of Red Bull.
Before long the predrink had turned into a rave in and of itself. Klive blared Avicii from his Ipad that was connected to a powerful set of portable speakers, and eventually surprised us all by breaking out a strobe light he had purchased for the occasion. One of the girls brought hundreds of glow sticks, another brought lasers that attach to your fingers, and a third brought rub on Canada flag tattoos, complete with sparkles. We all crowded in the living room, drinking, smoking cigarettes, passing around my bottle of champagne, and exchanging cheap colourful accessories, all while dancing atop the furniture. That was before the drugs.
I decided to wait for everyone else before taking the pill. They had agreed on leaving to the bar just after 11 as to avoid a line, and before long the hour was upon us. The experienced ravers casually opened up the green bag and gulped down one of the capsules. Klive placed one gently on the blonde’s tongue.
The less experienced among us, however, took our time. Most were too nervous at first, while the rest of us just waited for the others to wrap their head around the situation. After much hesitation we all tried and failed to toast the tiny pill, and threw it down the hatch.
Waiting in line I began to realize exactly how drunk I was, as I nervously anticipated what would happen once the Molly kicked in.
We reached the front of the line around 11:30, approximately 25 minutes after I had consumed the drug, and I was yet to feel the effects. I noticed there was heightened security once again. Accompanying the three bouncers at the door were two uniformed police officers.
As the bouncer took my ID he looked me in they eyes and asked me quite directly, “have you taken anything tonight?” I was quite thrown off by the question, which I guess was fair not only considering the type of event it was, but also the fact that I had a glittery tattoo on my bicep, a glow stick hanging from my necklace, and finger lasers on both index fingers. It’s just not something I had ever been asked before, especially not by security personnel.
First I chuckled, completely shocked by the very question, and then said “no.” He gave me back my ID and informed us that we would have to wait another few minutes, as there was a backup of people getting searched at the door.
At this point my heart began to race and I began to get a little nervous. “If the drug kicks in in the next few minutes,” I thought to myself, “I’m totally fucked.” It was at that point that I became grateful for Klive’s earlier advice.
By the time security had finished checking all of my pockets, which were filled with a wide variety of bright coloured objects, something dark and strange had slowly begun brewing in the back of my head.
Club Dragon Fly in Niagara Falls is only unique in that it is the only venue in the area that resembles a typical club in Toronto. The only things that differentiated it from my usual nights out with the same group of friends, besides the drugs of course, were the overwhelming amount of lasers and the ceiling above the dance floor, which was covered in dim coloured light bulbs.
When we had all finally made it through security we grabbed a beer and joined the crowd slowly building on the dance floor. All 14 of us were in a circle doing our own variations on the same dance — with our right fist pumping in the middle of the circle — when suddenly the drugs hit me at full force.
Unlike my previous experience it completely overwhelmed me. A wave of intoxication swarmed over me like a tsunami, lifting me off my feet and taking me to another place. My heart began to race as I started to perspire. I grabbed Tracy and told him we needed to break off from the group and head into the middle of the crowd where we could do more dancing. The ever passive Tracy shrugged and followed me, with a handful others following behind.
When we made it close enough to the stage I started dancing with the passionate unapologetic grace of an insane asylum inmate. I knew I felt strange, I knew I was loosing control, but above all, I knew that all I wanted to do was dance.
After a few moments one of my closest friends, Sheri, approached me and asked me how I was felling.
“I feel great!” I responded.
“Are you sure?” she yelled back in a squeaky voice, which sounded like it was in fast-forward.
“Don’t worry about me, I’m golden,” I yelled back.
But I wasn’t. A few moments later I lost my footing, crisscrossed my legs and took two sharp steps to the side, nearly tripping on a stranger’s shoe. I managed to catch myself before I hit the ground, finally realizing the extent of the damage in which I had inflicted on myself.
I apologized to the stranger, afraid he might get confrontational, but he just looked back at me and smiled, as if he knew that his foot wasn’t the only thing I was tripping on in that moment.
Suddenly the room got claustrophobic. The walls were getting closer and the temperature was rising, and I knew I had to get out of there. “But what about the security at the front door?” said a voice in my head, “surely if that stranger knew I was high, the police outside will too.”
“I’m going to have to take that risk,” said another. “The people in this tightening room are doomed, yet they’re dancing anyway. It’s like some kind of twisted suicide cult.”
“Fuck that, I’m out of here,” I said out loud.
I once again found Tracy and asked him to join me for a cigarette outside. As we walked away I heard a high-pitched squeaky voice yell in fast-forward, “someone needs to babysit that guy.”
As I walked through the crowd towards the front door I had an out of body experience, as if I was controlling a man who looked exactly like myself. I followed behind as he pushed his way through the crowd. He bumped someone’s shoulder and nearly spilled their drink, so I apologized for him, and told him to get his shit together before we reach the row of bouncers and cops at the front door.
When we got outside I had a rare moment of clarity, as if all of those voices in my head had finally united. The warm July air was refreshing by comparison to the sweat stenched vapor of the club. Tracy asked me how I was feeling, and from what I recall I used the words “blissful,” “euphoric,” and “phenomenal” between a variety of profanities. He seemed a little jealous, having not yet drowned in a sea of extreme intoxication himself.
It was about midnight when we put out our cigarettes. Tracy went back to Klive’s hotel room to get another pill, while I headed back into the club.
I remember walking into the club, nervously making my way past security, feeling relieved when I finally made it through. But from that point onward, my memory goes blank for what felt like half an hour, until I finally started to come down from the high. I had no idea what happened in that time, however pictures that I would discover later depict what look like a mentally unstable maniac; dark hollow black eyes, jaw tightly clenched, fists tightly clenched, arm extended in the air, with a depraved, aggressive expression across his face.
My memory picks back up again during a sudden moment of clarity. My teeth vibrated with a painful crack as I unclenched my jaw and wiped the sweat off my face. I needed some air again so I headed for the front door, where I was surprised to once again find Tracy. He informed me that he had already been to Klive’s room and back, hours ago.
“What do you mean?” I said. “It’s been twenty minutes since you went.”
He stared at me for a moment as if I was insane.
“Are you alright bud?” he asked.
“Yea man, I feel awesome, why?”
He just continued to stare at me, with the same concerned expression, before I finally asked him what time it was.
“It’s 3:30 a.m.” he responded.
My jaw clicked loudly as it dropped. No wonder it hurt so much, I had been grinding my teeth for over three hours. To this day I have no idea what took place on the eve of Canada day between the hours of midnight and 3:30 a.m. The even stranger thing is that none of the other 14 who were in the small club with me that night could provide an explanation either. Apparently everyone except Klive and the Blonde had all been together most of the night, and I was nowhere to be found.
When I got back into the club I found the group, who seemed relieved to find that I was all right. I noticed that many of them were drinking bottled water, which I quite rudely insisted on sharing. With my impaired judgment I somehow concluded that they had all found someone handing out free water, and I had missed out on the opportunity. But looking at those around me sipping from the cold clear bottles, I realized how extremely thirsty I was. I asked four or five friends for a sip, which ended up costing them half of their bottle.
As it turned out they were being sold at the bar, which legally can’t sell any alcohol after 2 a.m., for four dollars a bottle. I had no idea at the time, but I had drunk about $20 of other people’s water.
By the time I was finally coming down Tracy was reaching his peak, so once again we decided to head to the centre of the dance floor and let loose. He put on a pair of plastic sunglasses he found on the ground, which didn’t look half bad and conveniently hid his massive pupils. He had an unflinching grin plastered across his face as he waved his fingers in front of his eyes and bobbed his head with extreme enthusiasm. At one point a laser from the ceiling was shining directly above his head, so he started waving his hands through the coloured lights. When the rotating light began to move away from him he chased after it, back and forth across the bar, following a beam of light like a dog and a laser pointer.
The lights finally flickered on at around 4:30 a.m., after the crowd’s chanting of “one more song” had failed on the third attempt. The group once again reassembled and headed to Klive’s, who was just returning from the Casino. Why he went to the Casino in the middle of a rave, while trying to get with the blonde, and under the influence of MDMA, cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol, is a complete mystery to me. As is the explanation of how he won $300.
We once again crowded the suite on the 29th floor of the Hilton, blaring music and consuming whatever drugs were available. I smoked a little bit of weed and cracked open a beer, when Harold started trying to convince me to try coke.
“Have you ever dove into a coffee table nose first?” he asked. It had almost become tradition for him to offer and for me to reject. He knows that drunk enough I will say yes to just about anything, anything except a swim around the coffee table.
Klive snorted the last of his coke and began looking for the remaining Molly. Having not realized that Tracy and a few others had taken a second pill, he was infuriated when he discovered the two empty green dime bags in the bedroom dresser. He immediately blamed Harold, which was only reasonable considering everyone else’s clean reputation by comparison to his.
Harold was always up to no good, but he reached new levels of insanity around the time that Charlie Sheen entered the public spotlight as a result of his questionable lifestyle. The man quickly became Harold’s hero, who started using his catch phrases in daily conversation. He would show off the fact that he was always “winning,” his euphemism for snorting coke, claiming he had tiger blood and that society was just a bunch of lame losers who couldn’t handle it.
This was one of the few times that Harold was actually innocent, but Klive freaked out at him anyway. Whether it was because he was determined to fuck the blonde under the influence of MDMA, or the fact that he ran out of coke and was determined to find another substance, we could hear Klive in the bedroom yelling at Harold all the way from the living room.
When he exited the room the ever so tough and constantly ‘winning’ Harold was, for the first time I had ever seen, in tears. In his defense, he had run out of drugs too, and was likely dealing with some unquenchable cravings in that moment.
Klive, on the other hand, just kept on smiling and continued on with his night. He took notice of Tracy’s sunglasses and was extremely jealous of the fact that he had just picked them up off the ground. He kept talking about how cool they looked, until he finally said, “I’ll give you 100 bucks for them.”
“Are you serious?” responded Tracy.
Klive then pulled out a black $100 poker chip from his back pocket, put it in Tracy’s hand, and took the sunglasses off his face.
“I guess he was serious,” I said.
I was in the bed room smoking weed with Shari and Tracy, when suddenly a flash of light broke out over the horizon. It was 5:30 a.m., and the sun had just begun rising. That’s when Shari came up with the perfect way to cap off the extraordinary evening.
“Who wants to watch the sunrise over Niagara Falls?” she said, and suddenly a series of heads perked up, revealing a room full of droopy bloodshot eyes surrounding pupils as wide as pennies.
The nine of us who had made it this far in the evening made our way downstairs, leaving Klive and the Blonde together in the suite. We made our way across the street and through the Fallsview Hotel and Casino, to the back patio which overlooked the falls. There was a gap in the hedge which lay about 10 feet from the barrier of the patio, separated by a patch of grass, which revealed a spectacular view of the world’s largest waterfall.
At first we stood on the ledge of the barrier, peaking our heads around the trees to get the best view possible. It was only a few moments before I jumped over the barrier and made my way across the patch of grass, where I could stand at the edge of the steep hill, with the violent rapids splashing hundreds of feet below.
At first a few people expressed some concern, but when I told them how much better the view was they eventually came and joined me. Only Harold came close to falling over the ledge, but somehow Shari managed to grab him before he could start sliding down the dirt hill separating us from the violent waters below. Once I knew he was alright I couldn’t help but laugh, thinking that the night wouldn’t be complete without Harold having a near-death experience. After that he asked me if I wanted to have a cigarette with him, so I pulled the last one out of the box which I had purchased only hours earlier.
After we knew he was all right the nine of us stood there, arm in arm, as we watched the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen.
In the east a bright orange glow illuminated the handful of small fluffy clouds dispersed in the majestic blue sky. To the west we watched as the first of the suns rays flashed over the gigantic cloud of mist rising from the waters. The waterfall was rapid and violent, yet somehow in that moment it felt calm and peaceful: ever moving, yet somehow still.
When I woke up that morning the world seemed like a scary place. But as I stood on that ledge, arms around some of my favorite people, listening to the birds chirping at the early morning sun, I couldn’t help but feel glad to be alive.
We lingered a while longer, took some pictures, and just talked. We concluded just after 6 a.m. by exchanging hugs and telling each other how much we loved one another.
This was not the group of bickering unsatisfied misfits that arrived earlier. This was a tight group of close friends who had shared a spectacular journey together, forging an ever-lasting bond over an experience they struggle to fully remember, yet will never forget.