Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

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Rave Parties

Guide No.14 (2002)

by Michael S. Scott

The Problem of Rave Parties

This guide addresses problems associated with rave parties. Rave parties—or, more simply, raves—are dance parties that feature fast-paced, repetitive electronic music and accompanying light shows. Raves are the focus of rave culture, a youth-oriented subculture that blends music, art and social ideals (e.g., peace, love, unity, respect, tolerance, happiness). Rave culture also entails the use of a range of licit and illicit drugs. Drug use is intended to enhance ravers' sensations and boost their energy so they can dance for long periods.

Rave party problems will be familiar to many police officers working in communities where raves have been held; they will be unfamiliar to many other officers who have never experienced raves or, perhaps, even heard of them. In many jurisdictions, the first time a young person dies while or after attending a rave and using rave-related drugs sparks media, public and political pressure on police to take action.1

In some respects, rave party problems are unique; they combine a particular blend of attitudes, drugs and behavior not found in other forms of youth culture. In other respects, rave party problems are but the latest variation in an ongoing history of problems associated with youth entertainment, experimentation, rebellion, and self-discovery.2

Dealing appropriately with raves is difficult for police. On the one hand, police often face substantial pressure from mainstream society to put an end to raves, usually through aggressive law enforcement. On the other hand, raves are enormously popular among a significant minority of teenagers and young adults, most of whom are generally law abiding and responsible. Strict enforcement efforts can alienate a key segment of this population from government in general, and the police in particular. To be sure, raves can pose genuine risks, but those risks are frequently exaggerated in the public's mind. It is important that police recognize that most rave-related harms happen to the ravers themselves, and while ravers are not wholly responsible for those harms, they willingly assume much of the risk for them. Accordingly, rave party problems are at least as much public health problems as they are crime and disorder problems. It is critical that you establish a solid base of facts about rave-related harms in your community, facts from which you can intelligently develop local policies and responses.

The principal rave-related concerns for police are:

Related Problems

Rave party problems are only one set of problems relating to youth, large crowds and illegal drugs, problems police are partially responsible for addressing. Other problems not directly addressed in this guide include:

Factors Contributing to Rave Party Problems

Understanding the factors that contribute to your problem will help you frame your own local analysis questions, determine good effectiveness measures, recognize key intervention points, and select appropriate responses.

Rave Culture and the Rave Scene

Although only a little more than a decade old, rave culture and the rave scene have evolved into different forms, with variations in music styles, settings, drugs used, and ravers' ages. The rave scene is variously referred to in the literature as the "club scene" or "dance scene" (and the drugs variously referred to as "rave drugs," "club drugs" or "dance drugs"). Here we provide only a brief and general history and description of rave culture and the rave scene; the culture and scene may vary somewhat from community to community.

† For descriptions of the history and evolution of rave culture, see Measham, Parker and Aldridge (1998); Presdee (2000); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Morel (1999); Critcher (2000); Farley (2000); and National Drug Intelligence Center (2001). [Full text]

Raves emerged in U.K. youth culture in the late 1980s, having started amidst the party atmosphere of Ibiza, a Mediterranean island frequented by British youth on vacation.3 Rave music originated in the United States, mainly in Detroit, Chicago and New York. 4, The rave scene soon spread to other European and North American countries, to Australia, to New Zealand, and elsewhere around the world. Raves, especially those held in large clubs, have been prominent in such North American cities as Toronto, Dallas, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa and Orlando, Fla.; and in British cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and London.5

† Among the variations of rave music styles are those known as house (or garage), acid house, ambient, hardcore, happy hardcore, techno, trance, progressive trance, cybertrance, drum 'n' bass, techstep, big beat, and jungle music.

Raves vary in size: some draw a few hundred people, while others draw tens of thousands. Raves are commonly advertised in flyers distributed in clubs and music stores, and on Internet websites. Oftentimes, the flyer or website lists only the city, the date, the rave title, and a telephone number. Those who call the number are given directions to the rave or to another location where they can find out where the rave is.

Raves usually start late at night and continue into the morning. A well-known disk jockey is often the rave's main attraction. Ravers often wear or carry glow sticks or other brightly lit accessories, and eat lollipops and candy necklaces. Some wear painters' masks with mentholated vapor rub applied to the inside to enhance ecstasy's effects.

Rave culture has become increasingly commercialized since its early days, and today accounts for a large part of the youth entertainment industry.6 Regular ravers spend around $50 to $75 (£35 to £50) a week just on admission, drugs and drinks.7 So-called "energy drinks" (nonalcoholic beverages laced with amino acids) are often heavily marketed at rave clubs. Bottled water is also prevalent at raves—ravers drink a lot of water to try to keep their bodies hydrated and their body temperatures down. Selling bottled water at raves can be highly profitable. There are large profits to be made selling anything associated with raves, from clothing to accessories to beverages.

In the early years, most raves were unlicensed, unregulated events held in clandestine locations—usually in remote sites like open fields, caves or tunnels, and sometimes indoors in empty warehouses, airplane hangars or barns. Rave locations were kept secret until the day of the event: ticket holders called special telephone numbers to learn where to go. Largely due to police crackdowns on these unlicensed and unregulated clandestine raves, the rave scene moved to large clubs in urban and suburban areas.

† Outdoor raves have effectively been banned entirely in the United Kingdom under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, a national law passed specifically in response to raves (Presdee 2000; Shapiro 1999). The law gives police broad powers to detain people traveling to raves, seize electronic equipment and shut raves down, powers that would likely be seen as overbroad in the United States.

Raves predictably attract a young crowd—as young as 13 at unlicensed raves, but more typically in the 17-to-early-20s range in licensed clubs.†† Younger ravers are sometimes called "candy ravers": they are more likely to wear costumes. Ravers come from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, though most are white.8 Most are employed, which is not surprising given the costs of regular rave attendance.9 Slightly more males than females attend raves.10 Different clubs that promote different types of rave music attract different races and sexual orientations. Regular ravers appear to derive great pleasure from their involvement in the rave scene, and are committed to it in spite of the risks and costs.11

†† Ravers' ages depend partly on local laws regulating the ages at which people can be admitted to clubs.

Rave-Related Drugs

Although ravers might use any number of legal and illegal drugs, certain drugs are most commonly associated with the rave scene. Among them are:

Ravers also use amphetamines, methamphetamine, cannabis, alcohol, and cocaine, but such use transcends involvement in the rave culture. Crack and heroin are not yet prominent in rave culture, but heroin use appears to be increasing among ravers in some jurisdictions.12

Other drugs associated with rave culture include:

Drug use patterns can vary significantly across regions and countries, so while one drug might be popular in one jurisdiction, it might be unknown in others.13 Because most of the drugs are illegal and therefore not subject to quality control, users do not necessarily know exactly what chemicals they are ingesting.

Ecstasy is the drug most closely associated with the rave scene, and an increasingly popular one.14 Drug control officials are concerned that its use has spread from the smaller rave culture to the mainstream youth culture, as drug use becomes increasingly normalized among the current generation.15 Ecstasy use has been expanding from primarily white, middleclass, suburban youth to minority and urban youth.16

Two of ecstasy's common side effects are jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding. Ecstasy users at raves often suck on baby pacifiers to cope with these effects. Ecstasy users typically take one to two tablets per rave session.17 Because many raverelated drugs are manufactured illegally, users cannot be sure of the exact chemical contents of what they take. What is sold as ecstasy, for example, may actually be a different drug, or a mixture of ecstasy and other active drugs or adulterants.18 Traditionally, alcohol has not been associated with the rave scene because many ravers have felt it promotes aggression and undermines the peace ideal at raves.19 But as the rave scene has moved to licensed clubs, and as alcohol distributors have sought to profit from rave culture, alcohol has become more heavily used at raves, and more heavily marketed to appeal to the rave audience.20 Alcohol can alter the effects of other drugs taken, in unpredictable and dangerous ways.

As noted, heroin and crack use is also less common among ravers, although about one-fifth to one-third of ravers have tried heroin.21

While it is true that not everyone who attends raves uses illegal drugs, and not everyone who uses illegal drugs attends raves, there is substantial evidence that rave attendance and certain patterns of drug use are closely linked.22 People who attend raves tend to have more drug experience than those who do not, and people who use the drugs associated with raves are more likely to attend raves.23

Harms Caused by Rave-Related Drugs and Raves

The use of rave-related drugs has not been strongly linked to other crimes, as has been the case with other drugs such as cocaine and heroin.24 And unlike other youth events or other types of concerts, raves do not typically involve much assault.25 The few reports of rave-related violence are usually attributable to clashes between ravers and police when police try to shut raves down.26 Even these confrontations are rare. There has been some violence in British clubs where organized drug gangs have tried to control the drug distribution and private security markets.27 At raves to which most people have traveled by car, there will also likely be problems such as thefts from and of cars, vandalism and graffiti, but these problems are not unique to raves.

There are some concerns that people who take certain raverelated drugs are more vulnerable to sexual assault, but there is little published literature indicating that rave-related sexual assaults are prevalent. In fact, the evidence of rave-related drugs' effects on sexual activity is mixed: rave culture discourages sexual aggressiveness, and while some drugs do lower sexual inhibitions, they also can inhibit sexual performance. So in some respects, raves are safer places for young people, especially women, than conventional bars and clubs.28

† Some scholars have noted that warnings about young women's sexual vulnerability are frequently connected to emerging drug use, to generate public support for official crackdowns (Rietveld 1993; Jenkins 1999).

As a whole, those ravers who use rave-related drugs seem to manage their drug use, not letting it seriously disrupt other facets of their lives—work, school and personal relationships29 —although this is clearly not the case for all ravers.30 Few rave related drug users get seriously addicted to the drugs, and few turn to crime to finance their drug use.31 To the extent that regular rave attendance and rave-related drug use do create other life-management problems, those problems tend to be worse for younger and female ravers, and for those who use combinations or excessive doses of drugs.32

Common unpleasant aftereffects of rave attendance include fatigue, insomnia, exhaustion, muscle aches, numbness, profuse sweating, listlessness, depression, amnesia, paranoia, and excessive mood swings.33 Some people also experience anxiety or panic attacks, blurred vision, dizziness, appetite and weight problems, nausea, headaches, stomach pains, vomiting, skin problems, irregular menstrual periods, and passing out. These effects are undoubtedly caused by a combination of overexertion and drug use. Some ravers try to medicate themselves to manage the aftereffects of drug use.34 The long-term effects of some of the drugs are not yet fully understood, but there is evidence that chronic ecstasy use can cause permanent brain damage.35

Most of the deaths that have been linked to raves have been caused not by the toxicity of the drugs per se, but by the effects they have on key bodily functions.36 Many deaths are attributed to the users' bodies overheating (hyperthermia), dehydrating or losing blood sodium (hyponatraemia). These effects occur because some drugs, ecstasy in particular, inhibit the body's temperature-regulating mechanisms, and body temperatures can rise to fatal levels. This effect is compounded by users' overexertion through dancing and by the loss of bodily fluids from sweating or vomiting. Many ecstasy users drink a lot of water to prevent dehydration, but unless they are dancing and sweating, drinking too much water can prove equally dangerous because it can cause kidney failure. Ecstasy use can impair the kidneys' capacity to produce urine.37 Several studies of ecstasy users reveal that many of them only vaguely understand the risks of hyperthermia and hyponatraemia, and how to prevent them.38

While rave-related drug deaths are, of course, tragic, and taking rave-related drugs increases the risk of death or serious illness, deaths and medical emergencies remain relatively rare.39 Rave-related drugs are not yet showing up in large numbers in emergency room mentions, but they are increasingly being noted.40 Some deaths and medical emergencies can be attributed to users' ingesting a combination of drugs or a combination of drugs and alcohol (referred to as potentiation effects).41 Yet others can be attributed to users' allergic reactions or hypersensitivity to rave-related drugs, or to the drugs' triggering some other preexisting medical condition.42 Treatment is sometimes complicated because users often do not know exactly what chemicals they have ingested, or they have ingested combinations of chemicals.

† Tests in the Netherlands and Canada of drugs that users believed to be ecstasy revealed that only about one-fourth to one-third of the drugs actually contained MDMA (Spruit 1999; Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2000). [Full text]

Rave-Related Drug Trafficking

Although this guide does not directly address large-scale trafficking in rave-related drugs, a few points about drug dealing at raves are in order. Most ravers obtain and use illegal drugs before arriving at the venue.43 This is so for several reasons:

So while some drug dealing does occur at rave venues, they are not the predominant location for rave-related drug distribution. A considerable amount of drug dealing may occur in the area around the rave venue, particularly if rave operators are effective at keeping drug dealers and drugs out of the venue. One of the potential unintended consequences of searching ravers for drugs upon entry is that it encourages some ravers to take large doses of drugs before they arrive, to prolong the effects throughout the rave.44

Drug dealing operations in clubs can be elaborate, with different people playing different roles: primary dealer, floor dealer, referrer, spotter/protector.45 To varying degrees, rave operators, disk jockeys and security staff are sometimes involved in drug trafficking. Their involvement may range from turning a blind eye to it (sometimes because they are intimidated by dealers), to taking payments from dealers to allow dealing, to actually dealing themselves.46

Environmental Risk Factors at Raves

Certain environmental conditions common to raves create health and safety risks for ravers. Chief among them are heat, humidity and loud music. The heat and humidity are generated by large crowds of people whose body temperatures rise due to strenuous dancing and the chemical effects of some rave-related drugs. Where heat and humidity are not compensated for through good ventilation, air conditioning and ready access to cool drinking water, the risks are compounded. Prolonged exposure to loud music can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss: sound levels at many raves average around 135 decibels, well above the level that can cause hearing loss.47

Understanding Your Local Problem

The information provided above is only a generalized description of rave party problems. You must combine the basic facts with a more specific understanding of your local problem. Analyzing the local problem carefully will help you design a more effective response strategy.

Asking the Right Questions

The following are some critical questions you should ask in analyzing your particular rave party problems, even if the answers are not always readily available. Your answers to these and other questions will help you choose the most appropriate set of responses later on.

You may answer some of these questions by referring to police or health authority statistics. However, talks with ravers, club owners and others associated with raves will also be necessary. Further, covert and overt surveillance of clubs and exterior areas is essential for getting a firsthand picture of how raves operate.

Rave-Related Incidents

Rave-Related Drug Trafficking

Rave Location and Management

Current Responses

Measuring Your Effectiveness

Measurement allows you to determine to what degree your efforts have succeeded, and suggests how you might modify your responses if they are not producing the intended results. You should take measures of your problem before you implement responses, to determine how serious the problem is, and after you implement them, to determine whether they have been effective. All measures should be taken in both the target area and the surrounding area. (For more detailed guidance on measuring effectiveness, see the companion guide to this series, Assessing Responses to Problems: An Introductory Guide for Police Problem-Solvers.)

The following are potentially useful measures of the effectiveness of responses to rave party problems:

The volume of rave-related drugs police seize is not a direct measure of your effectiveness, although it may provide you with some insights into drug trafficking and drug use in the jurisdiction. You should also be alert to any evidence that raves have been displaced to another jurisdiction as a result of your efforts, or conversely, that they have been displaced to your jurisdiction from another jurisdiction.

Responses to the Problem of Rave Parties

Your analysis of your local problem should give you a better understanding of the factors contributing to it. Once you have analyzed your local problem and established a baseline for measuring effectiveness, you should consider possible responses to address the problem.

The following response strategies provide a foundation of ideas for addressing your particular problem. These strategies are drawn from a variety of research studies and police reports. Several of these strategies may apply to your community's problem. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem. Do not limit yourself to considering what police can do: give careful consideration to who else in your community shares responsibility for the problem and can help police better respond to it. Also, give careful consideration to involving others in developing responses, especially people immersed in the rave culture.

General Considerations for an Effective Strategy

There are two general approaches to addressing rave party problems. One is prohibition—strictly enforcing all drug laws and banning raves (either directly or through intensive regulation). The other is harm reduction — acknowledging that some illegal drug use and raves are inevitable, and trying to minimize the harms that can occur to drug users and ravers. Many jurisdictions blend enforcement with harm reduction approaches. Whatever approach you ultimately adopt, it should at least be coherent and consistent. For example, if you choose to emphasize harm reduction, it would be inconsistent to then use rave operators' adoption of harm reduction strategies, such as hiring private emergency medical staff, stocking bottled water or establishing rest areas ("chill out" areas), as evidence that they are condoning and promoting illicit drug use. Conversely, if you adopt a strict drug prohibition approach, it would be inconsistent to permit, for example, anonymous drug testing at raves.

† For arguments favoring harm reduction policies, see Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Jenkins (1999); Spruit (1999); Branigan and Wellings (1999); Adlaf and Smart (1997); Weir (2000) [Full text]; Toronto Dance Safety Committee (2000) [Full text]; and Akram and Galt (1999).

Local public and political attitudes, as well as police policies regarding similar problems, will influence the general stance your agency takes. It is important to consider how the public, and the various communities within it, will perceive the police response to rave party problems, particularly as that response is compared with police responses to similar problems. In some communities, the police have been criticized for taking a different stance on enforcement at raves, which are predominantly attended by white youth, than they have been perceived to take at events that are predominantly attended by minority youth.

To some extent, police and other regulators are forced to choose between the lesser of the harms arising from raves held in licensed venues and those held in unlicensed, clandestine venues. (This has some similarities to the public policy choices governing indoor vs. outdoor prostitution.) Shutting down all rave clubs would probably move raves and their associated problems back to outdoor, unlicensed and clandestine locations. Perhaps the biggest drawback to moving raves to indoor licensed venues is that it increasingly makes alcohol more available to ravers, increasing the medical risks from combining alcohol and rave-related drugs.

† British police and legislative policies have been effective in moving raves to licensed indoor venues (Critcher 2000).

Specific Responses To Address Rave Party Problems

  1. Regulating rave venues to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place. The basic measures widely deemed necessary for ravers' health and safety are:
    • keeping the venue well-ventilated and controlling heat and humidity;
    • providing a rest area where ravers can rest and cool off;
    • having trained emergency medical staff readily accessible to ravers, especially for drug-related ailments;
    • making drinking water readily available to ravers (sometimes requiring that it be provided for free);
    • hiring properly trained and screened private security staff, primarily to search ravers for illegal drugs and to monitor drug sales and use inside the venue;
    • providing reliable and credible information to ravers about the effects of rave-related drugs and harm prevention measures (see response 6 below);
    • posting and advertising policies prohibiting illegal drugs in the venue;
    • ensuring there is adequate transportation to and from venues, especially for those who might be impaired by drugs and alcohol;
    • keeping ravers away from hazardous areas (such as off of loudspeakers that might topple over); and
    • keeping noise levels outside the venue tolerable and providing earplugs for ravers. 48
    Regulations also commonly include requiring rave promoters to obtain special permits from the local jurisdiction, applications for which must be filed sufficiently early to allow officials to check the backgrounds of promoters and their staff. Stricter U.K. laws allow police to call for a review of a club's license up to seven times a year, rather than the previous annual review.49 A national U.K. law authorizes local governments to close clubs where there is evidence that drugs are being sold or used on the premises.50 Enforcement of fire safety codes, licensing ordinances and other health and safety regulations has also been part of some jurisdictions' response strategies.51

    Some venues, in cooperation with police, have placed socalled "amnesty boxes" at the entrances to rave venues. Ravers are encouraged to put any weapons and illegal drugs in these secured boxes, without threat of arrest. Security staff also put any contraband they find in the boxes. Police later seize the contents.52

    In some jurisdictions, these sorts of measures are required by local law; elsewhere, they are merely promoted as good practice. Either way, police should work closely with venue management to identify emerging problems, develop mutually agreed-upon responses, and determine the relative responsibilities and commitments of venue management and police.53

    Where adequate regulations already are in place, police and other agencies may merely need to give special attention to enforcing those regulations. Where they do not exist, police and others may need to develop and advocate new regulations.

  2. Encouraging and supporting property owners in exercising control over raves. For raves held in leased properties other than licensed nightclubs, police can encourage and support property owners in their efforts to control those raves. Some owners may not appreciate what raves are when they agree to lease their properties and, accordingly, may not insist on certain lease provisions that would minimize the nuisances and harms that arise from improperly run raves. Charlotte, N.C., police report success working with owners to restrict and regulate raves.54
  3. Prohibiting juveniles and adults from being admitted to the same raves. Allowing young people at raves clearly exposes them to certain illegal drugs they might otherwise not be exposed to, at least not as prominently.55 Because early drug use often leads to lengthier, more problematic drug use, it makes sense to try to keep the youngest rave fans out of raves. The city of Denver prohibits alcohol sales in any club that admits patrons under the legal drinking age.56 Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., set earlier mandatory closing times for clubs that admit younger patrons.57 If there are to be raves for juveniles, they should be carefully regulated and monitored to ensure that illegal drugs are not available to the juveniles. Obviously, juvenile raves should end earlier than adult raves, and other factors such as noise levels and safe transportation should be even more closely monitored than they might be for adult raves. Where applicable, enforcement of juvenile curfew laws can help keep young ravers safer.
  4. Applying nuisance abatement laws to rave venues. Some police departments have initiated nuisance abatement actions against properties where poorly managed raves have been held.58 Although little is known about the overall effectiveness of this response, it is obviously most applicable to venues where raves are frequently held.
  5. Prosecuting rave operators and/or property owners criminally for drug-related offenses. Some federal and state laws prohibiting the use of property for drug trafficking might be applied to some rave venues. Federal prosecutors in New Orleans filed criminal charges against the operators/owners of a large nightclub for permitting the premises to be used in drug trafficking.59 Proving that operators/owners had knowledge of drug dealing can be difficult, however.

    † The New Orleans case ended when the defendants accepted a plea bargain, leaving room for debate as to whether the strategy was successful overall. See National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) for tips on preparing similar cases. [Full text]

  6. Educating ravers about the risks of drug use and overexertion. Researchers have generally concluded that ravers do make rational choices about illegal drug use, even if their choices do not always turn out well.60 If true, then providing potential drug users with accurate, credible information about the consequences of using various drugs can help them manage their risks and reduce the likelihood that they will suffer serious and permanent harm from taking drugs.61 Public health officials, police and nonprofit organizations are increasingly distributing information to ravers about the risks of rave-related drug use and overexertion from dancing.62 Although few of these education campaigns have been carefully evaluated, most observers stress the importance of providing accurate, specific and credible information.63 When it comes to the complex neurochemical effects of drug use, having only a little knowledge can be dangerous. Popular wisdom about raverelated drugs and raves is often wrong. Most ravers, however, are interested in getting reliable information.64

    Education campaigns typically include data on the effects of rave-related drugs, precautions about health and safety, and information about possible legal consequences for drug use. Nonjudgmentally conveying information about rave-related drugs and tailoring messages to the specific target audience can enhance credibility with ravers. Information targeted at younger ravers with less drug experience should take a somewhat different tone than that targeted at older, more drug-experienced ravers.65 Messages that promote total abstinence from illegal drugs and peer-pressure resistance are unlikely to be effective with older, more drug-experienced ravers. Information targeted at males should take a different tone than that targeted at females, since males are more reluctant to take measures to protect themselves from the risks of rave-related drugs.66 In a rave-related drug education campaign in London, information that was prominently displayed in the public transportation system did not provoke a negative public reaction, as was expected.67 Education campaigns might also try to reach younger ravers' parents, who might be unaware of the risks of raves.

    Ravers should be advised to wear loose-fitting clothing, drink plenty of water if they are sweating, and take breaks from dancing to rest and cool off. Rave-related drug users should also eat salty foods to prevent hyponatraemia. In addition, they should save small amounts of the drugs they use in the event they need to be tested during emergency medical treatment (obviously, though, saving illegal drugs also increases the risk of arrest). They should stay close to their friends and have a plan for safe transportation to and from the event.68

    Warning the general public about the harms caused by new drugs can have the unintended effect of advertising the drugs and inadvertently encouraging previously uninformed people to experiment with them.69 For this reason, more-targeted education campaigns aimed at known or higher-risk users like ravers may be preferable to wider public education campaigns.

Responses With Limited Effectiveness

  1. Banning all raves. Given the popularity of rave culture and raves, it is highly unlikely that absolute bans on raves will either stop them or stop the use of rave-related drugs. The most likely effect of a total ban is that raves will move to unlicensed, clandestine locations where it is more difficult to implement harm reduction strategies.
  2. Providing anonymous drug-testing services to ravers. Some jurisdictions provide anonymous testing of rave-related drugs to ravers to reduce the risk of overdose or ingestion of dangerous chemicals.70 The SafeHouse Campaign in the Netherlands, DanceSafe in the United States and RaveSafe in Canada are among the organizations that conduct anonymous testing and provide drug users with information about the drugs they are planning to use. DanceSafe, which has chapters in over a dozen U.S. cities, claims that it has received police support in each of those cities.71 Of course, not all communities or police agencies will find anonymous drug testing to be an acceptable response to rave problems, because it might be perceived to condone illicit drug use.72 Thus far, there is no evidence that anonymous testing increases drug use. Field testing of drugs is not always reliable, however; some harmful chemicals may not show up in this less sophisticated testing.
  3. Deploying off-duty police officers at raves. Although some jurisdictions now require rave operators to hire off-duty police officers to provide security at raves, other jurisdictions discourage or prohibit this practice.73 Rave promoters complain that it is an unnecessarily expensive requirement.74 If officers are permitted to work at raves, they should, at a minimum, be adequately informed about rave culture, rave-related harms and agency policies regarding enforcement at raves.
  4. Having uniformed police officers conduct random patrols at raves. Having uniformed police officers conduct random patrols at raves may discourage some illegal drug use, but because most ravers take their drugs before arriving at raves, the impact will likely be minimal. Rave operators and ravers will likely perceive this practice as harassment, undermining cooperation in implementing harm reduction strategies. Uniformed patrol is more likely to prevent some drug dealing in the area around the rave venue and, possibly, some opportunistic crimes such as thefts from cars.
  5. Conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches before and after raves. One of the unintended consequences of conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches before and after raves is that drug users will be more inclined to take larger quantities of drugs at one time to avoid having the drugs confiscated.75 Overingestion can result in medical dangers and increase the risk of impaired driving.

Appendix A: Selected Court Cases on Panhandling

Drug Drug Nicknames Drug Type Intended Pleasurable Effects Possible Harmful Effects Cost Ingestion Method
MDMA (3,4-meth); illicit manufactur- ing makes it difficult for users to know the exact contents Ecstasy, XTC, E, X, Adam, love drug, hug drug, roll Stimulant (ampheta- mine) hybrid and mild hallucino- gen Reduction of inhibitions; feelings of empathy, well- being and relaxation; elimination of anxiety; enhancement of self-esteem and confidence; intensification of touch and taste senses; suppression of appetite and the need for sleep Dehydration, hyperthermia (body temperatures can reach 109 F), profuse sweating, rapid heart rate (tachycardia), jaw- clenching and teeth-grinding, loss of consciousness, damage to brain cells, permanent brain damage, anxiety, paranoia, depression, learning difficulties, confusion, memory loss, fatigue, kidney failure (difficulty producing urine), hyponatraemia, skin disorders $10 to $50 (U.S.) per dose Taken orally, usually in tablet or capsule form; can be snorted, injected or taken in suppository form
Rohypnol (flunitraze- pam) Roofie, rophie, roche, roach, roach-2, R- 2, rib, roopie, rope, ropie, ruffie, forget-me pill, circle, Mexican Valium Sleeping pill and preanes- thetic medication Intoxication without a hangover Amnesia, decreased blood pressure, drowsiness, visual disturbances, dizziness, confusion, gastrointestinal disturbances, urinary retention $5 to $20 per tablet Taken orally
LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) Acid, boomer, yellow sunshine, cid, dose, trip, hit, purple haze, microdot, or any number of names associated with the graphic design on blotter paper Hallucino- gen Hallucinations, feelings of relaxation Frightening hallucinations, panic, confusion, suspicion, anxiety, flashbacks, nausea, impaired distance perception, unpredictable behavior $1 to $10 per dose Taken orally, usually in small tablet form, in gelatin squares or on blotter paper

Sources

Weir (2000) [Full text]; Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997); Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2000 )[Full text]; U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001) [Full text]; National Institute on Drug Abuse (2001) [Full text]; U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (2000) [Full text]; Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000) [Full text]; Spruit (1999); National Drug Intelligence Center (2001). [Full text]

Additional Resources

Federal Government Hearings and Legislation

An Emerging Drug Threat in Central Florida: Club Drugs. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources of the Committee on Government Reform. House of Representatives, 106th Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. June 1, 2000.

Ecstasy Use Rises: What More Needs to be Done By the Government to Combat the Problem? Hearing before the Committee on Governmental Affairs. Senate, 107th Congress. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. July 30, 2001.

Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act, from the website for the Electronic Music Defense and Education Fund

Websites

Other Resources

City of Toronto Board of Health (2003) Drug Prevention and Harm Reduction in Regard to Raves [PDF]

Webster, R. (2002) Safer Clubbing: Guidance for Licensing Authorities, Club Managers and Promoters. [PDF] London: Drug Prevention Advisory Service.

Club Drug Resources and Publications List - National Criminal Justice Reference Service - http://www.ncjrs.org/

Summary of Responses

The table below summarizes the responses to rave party problems, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they ought to work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problems.

Specific Responses To Address Rave Party Problems
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Regulating rave venues to ensure basic health and safety measures are in place Controls environmental factors to reduce ravers' risk of medical emergencies …laws require adherence to health and safety regulations, or rave promoters and/or property owners agree voluntarily to abide by regulations; unlicensed raves are prohibited; and police work cooperatively with promoters and/or owners to ensure adherence to regulations Costs to promoters and/or owners; may require new legislation
2 Encouraging and supporting property owners in exercising control over raves Reduces the likelihood that raves will be poorly managed …owners are either unaware of the risks associated with raves or unsure how to exercise control over them, and police have good working relationships with owners Some owners may resent perceived police interference with their opportunities to profit from leasing property to rave operators
3 Prohibiting juveniles and adults from being admitted to the same raves Reduces the likelihood that juveniles will be exposed to rave- related drugs and alcohol …there are adequate opportunities for juveniles to listen and dance to rave music in venues where drugs and alcohol are less available May cause some financial hardship to rave promoters; may require new legislation
4 Applying nuisance abatement laws to rave venues Compels rave operators and property owners to adhere to health and safety regulations …operators and owners are otherwise unwilling to adhere to regulations and/or cooperate with police Investigative and legal costs associated with developing a nuisance abatement case; may worsen relationships between police and operators and owners
5 Prosecuting rave operators and/or property owners criminally for drug-related offenses Deters operators and/or owners from conspiring in or knowingly permitting drug- related offenses …laws in the jurisdiction allow for such prosecutions, and there is solid evidence to support a prosecution Unproven method because it has rarely been applied; substantial investigative and legal costs associated with developing a criminal case
6 Educating ravers about the risks of drug use and overexertion Reduces the likelihood that ravers will suffer serious harm from rave-related activities …information is accurate, specific, credible, and nonjudgmentally conveyed; and messages are tailored to specific rave groups May be public or police opposition on the grounds that illegal activity appears to be tolerated; education campaigns pitched to the general public rather than targeted to higher risk audiences may inadvertently promote drug experimentation
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
7 Banning all raves     Unintended consequence will likely be that rave parties move to unlicensed, unregulated and clandestine locations
8 Providing anonymous drug- testing services to ravers Reduces the likelihood that ravers will ingest harmful chemicals …a drug testing organization serves the jurisdiction, drug testing methods are accurate and reliable, and police endorse anonymous drug testing May be public or police opposition on the grounds that illegal activity appears to be condoned; field testing methods may not be sophisticated enough to detect some dangerous chemicals
9 Deploying off- duty police officers at raves Intended to discourage drug use and dealing at raves   Most ravers who use drugs take them before arriving at raves, so detection and deterrence are minimized; some rave operators and/or property owners may believe police are assuming primary responsibility for ravers' health and safety
10 Having uniformed police officers conduct random patrols at raves Intended to discourage drug use and dealing at raves   Most ravers who use drugs take them before arriving at raves, so detection and deterrence are minimized; rave operators and ravers may perceive it as harassment, undermining harm reduction strategies
11 Conducting roadblocks and vehicle searches before and after raves Intended to deter illegal drug use   Unintended consequence may be that drug users take greater quantities of drugs to avoid detection

Endnotes

[1] Redhead (1993); Jenkins (1999); Critcher (2000); Toronto Dance Safety Committee (2000) [Full text]; Shapiro (1999).

[2] Presdee (2000); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[3] Presdee (2000); Rietveld (1993); Jenkins (1999); Shapiro (1999).

[4] Pedersen and Skrondal (1999).

[5] Jenkins (1999); Steinhauer (2001); Redhead (1993); Shapiro (1999).

[6] Presdee (2000); Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Shapiro (1999); Morel (1999).

[7] Presdee (2000); Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998).

[8] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001); Spruit (1999); Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998); New Zealand Ministry of Health (1999) [Full text].

[9] Akram and Galt (1999); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[10] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Morel (1999); Akram and Galt (1999).

[11] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[12] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998); Sherlock and Conner (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); National Drug Intelligence Center (2001). [Full text]

[13] Patterns associated with these so-called rave or club drugs are monitored and reported by various U.S. drug- monitoring agencies, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy; the Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[in the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) "Monitoring the Future" study]; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. For studies on rave-related drug use in the United Kingdom, see Sherlock and Conner (1999); Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Akram and Galt (1999); Morris (1998, citing Release 1997) [Full text] [Briefing Notes]. For studies in the Netherlands, see Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999). For studies in Australia, see Lenton and Davidson (1999); Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997); Topp et al. (1999). For studies in Canada, see Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2000) [Full text]; Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998).

[14] Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Redhead (1993); Jenkins (1999); Pedersen and Skrondal (1999); Maryland Cabinet Council on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (2001) [Full text]; National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) [Full text].

[15] Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); South (1999); Shapiro (1999).

[16] U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001) [Full text].

[17] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Sherlock and Conner (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Topp et al. (1999).

[18] U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001) [Full text]; Spruit (1999); Weir (2000) [Full text]; Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2000) [Full text].

[19] Rietveld (1993); Weir (2000) [Full text]; Critcher (2000); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Lenton and Davidson (1999); Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998).

[20] Measham, Parker and Aldridge (1998); Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Shapiro (1999).

[21] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Sherlock and Conner (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Akram and Galt (1999); Pedersen and Skrondal (1999); Topp et al. (1999).

[22] Presdee (2000); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997).

[23] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2000) [Full text]; Morris (1998, citing Release 1997) [Full text] [Briefing Notes]; Spruit (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Morel (1999); Adlaf and Smart (1997); Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997).

[24] Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998).

[25] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Shapiro (1999); Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2000) [Full text]; Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998); Critcher (2000).

[26] Shapiro (1999).

[27] Shapiro (1999).

[28] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[29] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999).

[30] Topp et al. (1999).

[31] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[32] Topp et al. (1999).

[33] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Topp et al. (1999).

[34] Topp et al. (1999).

[35] Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2000) [Full text] (citing Mathias 1999).

[36] Jenkins (1999); Measham, Parker and Aldridge (1998); Shapiro (1999); Spruit (1999).

[37] Endnotes 37 Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997); Akram and Galt (1999); New Zealand Ministry of Health (1999) [Full text]; Topp et al. (1999).

[38] Akram and Galt (1999); Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997).

[39] Measham, Parker and Aldridge (1998); Critcher (2000); Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000) [Full text]; Spruit (1999).

[40] U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001) [Full text]; National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) [Full text].

[41] Office of Applied Studies, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000) [Full text].

[42] Spruit (1999); Akram and Galt (1999).

[43] Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Lenton and Davidson (1999); Shapiro (1999).

[44] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[45] Morris (1998) [Full text] [Briefing Notes].

[46] U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (2001) [Full text]; Morris (1998) [Full text] [Briefing Notes].

[47] Calgary Police Service (1999).

[48] Steinhauer (2001); Shapiro (1999); Spruit (1999); Toronto Dance Safety Committee (2000) [Full text]; New Zealand Ministry of Health (1999) [Full text]; Calgary Police Service (1999); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001); Morris (1998) [Full text] [Briefing Notes]; Spruit (1999); DanceSafe (2001); Morel (1999).

[49] Rietveld (1993).

[50] Shapiro (1999).

[51] National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) [Full text].

[52] Morris (1998) [Full text] [Briefing Notes].

[53] Morris (1998) [Full text] [Briefing Notes].

[54] Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (2000); Moore (2000).

[55] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[56] Steinhauer (2001).

[57] Moore (2000).

[58] Steinhauer (2001); Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (2000).

[59] Steinhauer (2001); Cloud (2001); National Drug Intelligence Center (2001) [Full text]. 38 Rave Parties

[60] Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[61] Measham, Aldridge and Parker (2001).

[62] Spruit (1999); Branigan and Wellings (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999); Morel (1999); Royal Canadian Mounted Police (2000) [Full text]; Maryland Cabinet Council on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (2001) [Full text]; Calgary Police Service (1999).

[63] Parker, Aldridge and Measham (1998); Measham, Parker and Aldridge (1998); Spruit (1999); Branigan and Wellings (1999); Weir (2000) [Full text]; Akram and Galt (1999); Lenton, Boys and Norcross (1997); Topp et al. (1999); Toronto Dance Safety Committee (2000) [Full text]; New Zealand Ministry of Health (1999) [Full text]; Morel (1999).

[64] Akram and Galt (1999); Morel (1999); Addiction and Mental Health Services Corp. (1998).

[65] Akram and Galt (1999).

[66] Akram and Galt (1999).

[67] Branigan and Wellings (1999).

[68] Shapiro (1999); Calgary Police Service (1999).

[69] Jenkins (1999).

[70] Spruit (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999).

[71] DanceSafe (2001).

[72] Spruit (1999); Van de Wijngaart et al. (1999).

[73] Steinhauer (2001).

[74] Toronto Dance Safety Committee (2000) [Full text].

[75] Lenton and Davidson (1999).

References

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Akram, G., and M. Galt (1999). "A Profile of Harm-Reduction Practices and Co-Use of Illicit and Licit Drugs Amongst Users of Dance Drugs." Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 6(2):215-225.

Branigan, P., and K. Wellings (1999). "Acceptance of the Harm Minimization Message in London Clubs and Underground System." Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy 6(3):389-398.

Calgary (Alberta) Police Service (1999). "Raves."

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2000). "Rave Attendance Among Ontario Students, 1995-1999." CAMH Population Studies eBulletin 1 (June). Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. [Full text]

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (2000). "The Problem With Rave Parties." Problem Solving: A CMPD Quarterly Report 1(2): 1,4.

Cloud, J. (2001). "Ecstasy Crackdown." Time 157(14):62-64.

Critcher, C. (2000). "'Still Raving': Social Reaction to Ecstasy." Leisure Studies 19(3):145-162.

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The quality and focus of these submissions vary considerably. With the exception of those submissions selected as winners or finalists, these documents are unedited and are reproduced in the condition in which they were submitted. They may nevertheless contain useful information or may report innovative projects.

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