The second hit of MDMA started to kick in at about the same time Avicii took the stage. While I had technically seen Avicii only two months prior I have no recollection of that evening, making this somewhat of a new experience.
Tonight’s festivities featured the same crowd of rainbow colored tank-top wearing ravers I had seen at Avicii last time around, not to mention DeadMau5 last year, as well as MSTRKRFT at Osheaga. Still sporting thick-rimmed sunglasses and multicoloured glow sticks, they had once again come in swarms by the thousands for what they believed would be the highlight of the labour-day long weekend.
The 8,000 person capacity club was without a doubt oversold, as the sweaty bodies shoved up against one another in the dark, damp, warehouse-sized room. The lights and lasers were quite impressive, as I’ve come to expect from these sorts of events, and the sound system had that sort of shake-your-bones type of subwoofers — another catalyst of the experience — but there was a new crowd pleaser I had not yet witnessed.
At various points throughout the evening I would hear a sudden hissing coming from above and then, without further warning, a cloud of pure white smoke would descend from the ceiling onto the crowd, covering everything and everyone with such a thick fog that even if you held your hand in front of your face, you would still see nothing but white smoke, accented with the colour of the strobe lights.
If you’ve never found yourself completely engulfed in blinding white smoke while tripping on a party drug like MDMA, let me just say that I for one would highly recommend it. It gives you a moment of complete isolation along with your twisted thoughts while the music blares in the background and the lights flash all around you, not to mention the relief the cold air provides from the otherwise unbearably hot atmosphere. And then, suddenly, just as quickly as it came, the cloud disperses to reveal the thousands of others enjoying the same chemically induced sense of euphoria and comradery. In that moment, you will find yourself in love with everyone and everything around you, wholeheartedly believing that those around you are the only ones that share a common understanding of what it truly means to experience music in the mind, body and soul.
Of course, when you finally snap out of it hours later, you will come to the difficult realization that the illusion was entirely brought on by a foreign substance.
But it sure as hell won’t stop you from coming to the exact same revelation the next time you have a similar experience.
“It’s not too bad,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be any sign of concussion and it doesn’t look like it needs stitches, just a few staples.”
I thought to myself what he could possibly mean by “staples,” but I would soon find out.
A moment later the doctor pulled out a large needle.
“Do you want me to leave?” I said, hoping he would insist that I didn’t have to be there to witness what came next.
“No, it’s fine, you stay and comfort your friend.”
I was quite disappointed by that answer, and even more so when he began injecting the needle directly into the cut.
“This is just for the freezing,” he said.
The doctor then pulled out what looked like a regular staple gun, and proceeded to insert staples along the wound. After the first I couldn’t stand to watch anymore, but could still hear the gun pop twice more while facing the back wall of the hospital room.
“That ought to do it,” said the doctor.
The two of us left the hospital just after 4 a.m., only two hours after we had arrived. When we finally got out into the dark empty streets I lit up a cigarette and tried to flag down a cab.
“Hey man,” he said, showing no improvement in the slur he’s kept up for nearly six consecutive hours. “Can I have a cigarette?”
I just laughed.
After we hailed a cab I told the driver to put on Q107 so I could continue listening to their weekend long countdown of the top 500 classic rock songs of all time. They were on song number 442 of the countdown, “Can’t Stand Losing You,” by The Police.
Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig In The Sky,” song number 363 on the countdown, had just begun playing from my car stereo as I passed the sign welcoming me to the small suburb an hour outside of Toronto. It was a long way to trek, but the deal was worth the drive. Almost too good, I thought, remembering Klive’s previous warning about counterfeit tickets.
When I finally found the truck stop the orange sedan was waiting there for me as promised. I parked next to it and turned down the radio.
“Are you Orkin?” I asked.
“Yes,” he responded, in a thick European accent, “from the ad.”
I got out of my car and walked up to his window, where I was surprised to notice a baby seat in the back. The man was much older than I had expected, much older than I would expect anyone going to this event to be. I was no longer as concerned about the authenticity of the ticket. It wasn’t hard to believe that he couldn’t attend tonight’s event because he had work the next morning.
“Show me your wrist,” he instructed. So I stuck my arm through his car window, at which point he wrapped a neon pink band of plastic around my wrist.
It looked good, but I took the piece of plastic Klive had given me earlier out of my pocket and compared it anyway, just to be sure, before handing him the $50 as promised.
“Have fun tonight,” he said with a smile, before pulling out of the parking lot and disappearing into the sparse suburban landscape.
When I got back in the car, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I yelled and banged the roof of the car, filled with surprise and amazement in my ability to pull off what seemed to be a lost cause, and with only a few hours to spare.
When I turned on the car, Q107 was playing “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones, a fantastic song, but not fitting the current mood. I turned off the radio, plugged in my iPhone, and switched to Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” in anticipation of his performance later that evening. I played it on repeat for much of the hour-long drive home, as it was the only house music song I had.
I lingered in the car a while longer to listen to the end of Led Zeppelin’s “The Lemon Song,” number 492 on the countdown, before making my way into Klive’s basement.
I entered through the back door shortly after 10 p.m. to find a couple dozen familiar faces sitting around the circular glass coffee table in his basement with their poison of choice within arm’s reach. Klive had strategically arranged his long red “L” shaped couch into more of a “V” shape around the coffee table, which narrowly fit between the wall and the awkwardly positioned square, white pillar in the middle of the room.
Before I had a chance to finish saying hello to everyone, Klive got up from his seat and pulled me through the door leading to his bedroom, locking the door behind him.
“Did you bring it?” he asked.
“Yea, right here,” I responded, as I pulled the small black device out of my back pocket. “What do you need it for exactly?”
“I bought some stuff today. I got it really cheap but I’m not sure if it’s any good.” He pulled out a one square inch sized plastic bag filled with clumps of yellowy-gold powder.
“Is that Molly?” I asked.
“Yea, but it looks weird.” He opened the bag and poured its contents onto the scale.
“Is that all for Labour of Love?” I asked.
“Maybe,” he said, “If it passes the inspection.” He continued to play around with the scale, before realizing that there weren’t enough decimal places to properly divide the .1-gram hits.
After realizing his efforts were futile, he eventually just said, “Fuck it,” and then proceeded into the washroom, where the flat porcelain lid of the toilet awaited with a rolled up dollar bill.
He came back a few seconds later sniffing profusely, and wiped some of the powder off his nose while I scratched leftover traces of MDMA off the scale with my fingers.
“Taste’s like shit,” he said. “Why is it all over your fingers?”
“I was trying to wipe it off the scale. I gotta go wash my hands.”
“Don’t do that,” he said. “That’s such a waste. Might as well lick your fingers.”
I thought about it for a second, but after realizing that such a small quantity of weak powder would likely cause little effect I decided to go for it.
“You’re right,” I said. “Does taste like shit.”
I proceeded out of Klive’s bedroom to join the party, as he continued to fuss around with the scale.
After finding a space on the couch between Maggie and Sheri, I pulled out my signature 26oz bottle of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey and it’s slender partner in crime: a can of Red Bull.
Between shots, Maggie and Sheri talked endlessly about how excited they were for Labour of Love.
“Are you coming?” asked Sheri.
“I don’t think so,” I said, unenthusiastically.
“Why not?” asked Maggie. “It’s going to be so much fun!”
“It’s pretty expensive, plus I’ve never done Molly in Toronto before,” I said, ignoring the traces I had licked off my fingers earlier. “I wouldn’t want to go to a house music festival without doing it, and something about coming home at 7 a.m. and spending the next day in bed just doesn’t feel right now that I live with my parents.”
“You can probably find cheaper tickets online,” said Sheri, “And who cares that your parents are home? You’re not in high school.”
“Last time I was home on labour day I was in high school,” I said.
“Well, you’re not in high school any more, so man up and get yourself a ticket.”
After realizing that they wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer, I signaled to Myke from across the room to join me for a cigarette outside.
After giving me a confirmation nod, I told the girls to excuse me, and headed towards the sliding screen door at the back of room, which led to the backyard.
“Do you know which bar we’re going to tonight?” asked Myke, as he walked through the screen door and shut it behind him.
“I doubt we’re going anywhere to be honest,” I said. “It’s already getting late and it looks like everyone’s having too much fun to leave.”
I took two cigarettes out of my pack, and tried handing one to Myke, but he wouldn’t take it.
“I quit,” he said.
As a smoker, you tend to get used to hearing those words from fellow smokers, but no matter how many times you hear it, it never fails to provoke a critical review of your own life decisions.
“Good for you, bro,” I said. “How long have you been going?”
“Three weeks cold turkey,” he said with a smile. “No matter how drunk I get, don’t let me smoke.”
“No problem man. What are you drinking tonight?”
“My goal is to finish this mickey,” he said, holding up the 13-once bottle of Crown Royal.
At first, I was mildly concerned, knowing how poorly Myke has handled his alcohol in the past, but I was a little relieved to know that he wouldn’t be smoking tonight. I still believe that cigarettes were one of main reasons why I had to take him to the hospital almost exactly three years ago.
I turned up the radio to help numb the boredom. In the five hours I had worked so far, I had heard nearly 30 songs in the countdown, from song number 411, “War Pigs,” by Black Sabbath to song number 381, “Day Tripper” by The Beatles.
My father’s financial success is largely due to his strong work ethic. It is the very same work ethic that’s brought me to his office on the Sunday afternoon of a long weekend to do manual labour. While the rest of his employees are enjoying their long weekend, he continues to fill out paper work in his office and I pack boxes and sort inventory in an otherwise empty building.
Two days in it felt like the long-weekend was somewhat of a failure. I had spent much of Friday night in the hospital and did very little Saturday except listen to the radio and read Klive’s incoherent text messages from the first night of Labour of Love. It was such a failure that I figured I might as well earn a few bucks while I’m not having fun, and spend the day working for my dad. But as I sorted inventory and stacked boxes, I quickly changed my mind, though it was obviously too late.
I turned down the radio at about three in the afternoon and called Klive from the storage closet at the back of the warehouse. He couldn’t stop telling me how amazing his evening was, from what he could remember.
“And the best part is that it’s only the beginning,” he said. “It’s going to be way sicker tonight for Benny Benassi and Avicii. Dude, you gotta get a ticket. It’s going to be awesome.”
“To be honest, I’m kind of considering it, but it’s probably too late now,” I responded.
“Tickets are still available on the website.”
“Yea, how much?”
“130, plus a 15 dollar service fee.”
“Look for an ad online, I’m sure you could find somebody selling it cheaper,” he said.
“I don’t have a computer here, can you look for me?”
“Aw man. My computer’s upstairs and I’m still in bed. Call me in an hour.”
“Are you serious?”
“Sorry bro, I went to bed at 8 a.m., I’m going back to sleep,” he said, and then hung up the phone.
I remembered that my father had asked me to make a delivery in Klive’s neighbourhood at some point in the day, so I told him I was leaving to drop it off and made my way over to Klive’s.
When I approached the screen door at the back of his basement I could see him laying motionlessly on the couch with his eyes barely open.
I banged on the door until he answered.
“What’s up bro?” he said, as he slid the screen door open.
“Sorry to bother you, but I’m borrowing your computer.”
“No problem man.”
I took a seat on the couch, grabbed Klive’s laptop, and started searching for tickets.
“I think I found something,” I said, after a few minutes. “It’s some dude up in the suburbs named Orkin selling it for $50.”
“That’s not bad, but it’s probably fake,” he responded.
“What do you mean fake?” I said.
“The club’s website has a warning about counterfeit tickets, so watch out.”
“He says he’s got work Monday morning and can’t go both nights, so he’s selling his bracelet.”
“Could be a lie, and if you drive an hour up north and an hour back to find out it’s a lie, you probably won’t be able to find a ticket after that.”
“I don’t really have a choice, I’ve got to make this delivery and get back to work.”
He then reached over the coffee table, took out a pair of scissors, and cut off a small piece of the pink plastic bracelet around his wrist.
“Here,” he said, handing it to me. “Take this to compare.”
“Thanks man,” I responded.
“No problem. Let me know how it goes.”
As I held the blood stained piece of white cloth against his head I could actually feel the rhythmic beat of his pulse underneath my fingers. I battled valiantly to keep and blood from reaching the seat of the cab. Luckily the driver failed to notice my hand awkwardly pressed against his head. Instead he was singing along to Rod Stewarts “Every Picture Tells a Story,” song number 453 on the countdown.
While examining the cloth to see how much blood he was losing I thought about my disappointment in their decision to place the song so far ahead of “The Lemon Song,” a musical masterpiece by a far more talented group of musicians.
“We really don’t need to go to the hospital,” said Myke, in a barely audible slur.
“It’s too late now,” I responded.
“Have you seen Klive?” I yelled to Sheri, who was dancing with impressive energy considering she hadn’t stopped in nearly four consecutive hours.
“I think he’s over there,” she yelled back, pointing over my right shoulder.
I turned back just in time to see Klive for the last time that evening, before everything was suddenly covered in a thick cloud of white smoke. By the time it subsided, he was gone.
I signaled to Maggie and Sheri to come with me outside for a cigarette, and they reluctantly accepted, disappointed to take a break from Benny Benassi.
When we finally shoved our way out of the crowd and made it outside, we were relieved from the unbearable heat of the club by a gust of cold autumn air.
“I’m going to grab a beer,” said Maggie. “You guys want anything?”
“No thanks,” Sheri and I responded.
I still can’t figure out how Maggie manages to keep up with our energy without chemical assistance.
After Maggie left, Sheri asked me how I was enjoying the experience.
“I’m fucking loving it!”
“You ready for a second hit?” she asked.
“I don’t know, I’ve never done two, and I’m still feeling the first one.”
“Me too, but I’m taking it now. I want to time it right for the start of Avicii.”
“Yeah, good point,” I said, and reached into the little plastic bag hiding in my sock.
“By the way, do you know where Klive went?” She said. “He totally just disappeared.”
“No idea, I’ll try texting him.”
According to my phone records, I sent Klive seven messages between the hours of 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. asking him where he was. I finally received a response at 6:14 that read, “wekfnitnjnjenrrrrrrnhinhhrj.” After sending him a simple “?” at 6:18 he again responded with “in jair for fe the dssgrnmms.”
Basically the text messages only told me what I already knew: that Klive was alone somewhere, too fucked up to operate a phone.
As the evening progressed, I realized our plans to leave the basement and move the party downtown were likely not going to come to fruition, but nobody seemed to mind. By midnight, there were close to 40 people dispersed throughout Klive’s basement, many of whom were dancing in their spot to the house music blaring from the subwoofers.
Since our plans to leave the basement had been discarded, people had more time to spend with their alcohol, no longer having to abandon the bottle at an early stage in the evening to go downtown. I personally took down three quarters of a 26 oz bottle of Jack Daniels, an improvement from my usual half.
By 1 a.m. two people had thrown up, but everyone else seemed too drunk to notice.
While making my way over to the washroom to check on one of the gentlemen who was still recovering, I passed by Myke, who was showing off to Fred the fact that he had finished the entire Micky in an incoherent slur.
When I got to the washroom, I found Harold, who was lying by the toilet, with an empty bottle of whiskey beside him. I asked him if he was awake. When he responded, I handed him a glass of water to sip on and returned to the party.
As I left the washroom, I was nearly knocked over by Fred who was play-wrestling with Myke. Myke was putting up a pretty good fight, considering how intoxicated he was, until Fred decided to shove Myke backwards onto the couch, which narrowly fit next to the awkwardly positioned square white pillar. As Myke’s limp body crashed down on the couch his head flung backward, sounding like a rock getting thrown against a brick wall as it smacked the corner of the pillar behind him.
I ran over to Myke, who was smiling and laughing as if nothing had happened, and pulled him up off the couch.
“Are you alright man?” I asked.
“Yeah, totally,” he said.
“Are you sure? It looks like you hit your head pretty hard.”
“No man, I’m fine.” As the words came out of his mouth I noticed a thick gush of blood pouring down the side of his cheek, breaking off into two streams; one flowing down his neck, the other continuing towards his chin.
I started to hyperventilate. I had never seen that much blood before, certainly not stemming from someone’s head.
“Fuck dude!” is all I managed to say, before grabbing Myke and dragging him through Klive’s bedroom into the washroom.
I grabbed a handful of toilet paper and pressed it up against his head, before realizing that I was stepping on Harold.
“What the fuck is going on?” he moaned.
“Sorry man, we’ve got bigger problems right now,” I said, and dragged him out of the washroom, dropping Myke in his place.
“How bad is it,” Myke asked.
“Pretty bad,” I said.
At first he tried to look at it in the mirror, failing to realize that the gash was too far toward the back of his head. Eventually, I just said, “Let me show you,” and took out my iPhone. I pressed the capture button and passed the phone to Myke.
He looked at the picture for a moment then said, “Badass,” before handing me back my phone.
“I think we should go to the hospital,” I said.
“No man, I’m fine. Just give me a few minutes,” he responded.
It wasn’t long before people started to follow the trail of blood leading to the washroom. Soon enough about a half dozen people were crowding the doorway, each kindly offering their advice and assistance. But in their drunk state, all they could manage to contribute was their opinion over whether or not Myke should be taken to the hospital. Within minutes, a shouting match had erupted in the doorway of the washroom, while I continued to dab at the back of Myke’s head.
As a result of the combination of witnessing the blood pouring out of Myke’s head, the crowded washroom full of loud drunk people, Myke’s refusal to seek help for himself, and the substances mingling inside my head, I suddenly felt very faint. I had to grab onto the towel rack as I pulled myself off the floor of the washroom.
I instructed someone to grab a paper towel for Myke’s head, and another person to call us a cab to take us to the hospital, and then proceeded out of the washroom, out of Klive’s room, and took a seat on the couch next to the white pillar, now sporting a fresh red stain.
I took deep breaths as the dizziness slowly subsided. Trying to think of how I dealt with Myke last time he injured himself, I realized that it was time to once again call his older brother Jeremy, whom I had first been introduced to at the hospital the night Myke got so drunk he peed in a stranger’s room.
I proceeded back into the washroom where I found someone else now dabbing Myke’s head with paper towel.
“Pass me your phone,” I said to Myke.
“Why?” he asked.
“It’s time to call your bro.”
He took his BlackBerry out of his pocket and handed it to me, which I then carried through the crowded basement and into the relatively quiet backyard, where I called his brother, who picked up after the first ring.
“Hey, Myke,” he said.
“It’s not Myke,” I responded.
“Fuck, not again.” He let out a deep exhale. “Last time you called me from my brother’s phone, I didn’t like it.”
“You’re not going to like it this time either.”
“God damn it. What happened?”
“He was really drunk and wrestling with a friend, he got thrown onto the couch and hit his head pretty hard on the corner of a pillar in the middle of the room. He’s got a pretty serious cut on the back of his head, and it’s bleeding quite a lot. I’m ready to take him to the hospital, but he’s saying it’s not necessary. I just wanted to know what you think.”
“How big is the cut?”
“I’d say about an inch long. Looks pretty nasty and it’s been bleeding quite a lot. Here, let me show you.” I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and sent Jeremy the same picture I had shown his brother moments earlier. “I’m sending you a picture of it right now, call me back after you see it.”
It was only about 5 seconds after hanging up that Jeremy called me back.
“Take him to a hospital immediately!” he said, in a panic. “Give him lots of water, don’t let him fall asleep, and for the love of god don’t let him pee on anybody this time.”
“Got it. Are you going to come down and meet us?”
“Keep me posted on your progress. If you need me, I’ll head down.”
I wanted to say something comforting to calm him down, but he hung up before I had the chance, so I proceeded back into the washroom and gave Myke back his phone.
“What’d he say?” asked Myke.
“He says it’s time for us to head downtown after all. Come on up, I got you,” I grabbed Myke’s arm, dragged him to his feet and escorted him out of the basement.
By the time we finally found Klive, it was nearly 7 a.m., but the club showed no signs of slowing down. People were still piling on top of each other with their arms raised to the air, as they had been when we arrived seven hours prior.
We had lost Kive shortly before 3 a.m., but decided not to follow after him, naively believing that he couldn’t do much damage within the confines of the club. We have since learned the flaws of that logic.
Sheri first spotted him standing at the back of the room near one of the coat check counters. He looked a little out of place, the only white guy standing around a circle of eight or so Asian guys, and one Asian girl.
When I approached him one of the guys stopped me and said, “Do you know this guy?”
“Yeah man, I know him,” I responded.
“You better get him the fuck away from me!” he yelled.
As the guy was threatening me I failed to notice Klive slowly drifting over towards where the girl was seated on the ledge of the coat check, but before he could say anything to her, a handful of the guys stood up and formed a barrier around her, shoving Klive out of the way.
“Don’t worry boys, I got him,” I said, as I grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him backwards towards the exit.
We had almost made it out of the building when Klive suddenly stopped and said something in pure gibberish, before turning around and heading in the opposite direction.
“Where is he going?” asked Sheri.
“I don’t know,” I responded, “but he’s too fucked up to be unsupervised right now.”
The three of us followed him back into the club towards a different coat check desk around the corner which he likely mistook for the one he was just at, where he started talking to the Asian woman behind the counter, whom he likely mistook for the Asian woman he was trying to talk to at the other coat check.
When we caught up to him he was leaning over the counter whispering something into her ear, but the woman just had a puzzled look on her face. When I walked up to him she asked me what he was saying, so I leaned in and tried to listen. I’m usually quite good at translating Klive’s incoherent gibberish into English, having had several years of experience, however tonight was one of those rare occasions where my services were completely useless. I heard the word “whiskey,” and “button,” and possibly, “hot dog,” but even if I could decipher what he was saying I doubt it would have been worth the effort.
“Lets go, man,” I said, as I once again grabbed him by the shoulders and headed towards the back exit.
I had to shield my eyes as I opened the back door of the club; I wasn’t expecting it to be so sunny already.
We hopped into a cab and told the driver where to take us. I was in somewhat of a hurry, knowing that my father would be heading to work in approximately half an hour, and with my shirt dripping of sweat and my mind warped from the lack of sleep, not to mention the drugs, it would make for somewhat of an awkward conversation.
“Next up we’ve got The Who with ‘Behind Blue Eyes,’ for your morning commute, song number 98 on our weekend long countdown of the top 500 classic rock songs of all time, on Toronto’s classic rock station, Q107.”
I asked the cab driver to turn it up. It was one of my favorites.
In plain honesty I don’t really care much for house music. I’m certainly fascinated by the culture, but I’m not a true fan. I’m merely a fan of drugs; it’s just a coincidence that my drugs are a fan of house music.
But the more I explore this movement, the more I realize the power of its appeal to its growing number of passionate fans. Like it or not, there is no doubt that this brand of electric house beats will be remembered as one of the quintessential musical genres of my generation.