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Harm reduction would help prevent drug-related deaths at raves

On Aug. 1, Tracy Nguyen, a rising second-year business economics student at UCLA, died at HARD Summer music festival, one of two deaths that were linked to suspected drug usage.

With her death will come a butterfly effect of outcomes. These may include opinions shifting away from a tolerant attitude of Ecstasy-fueled rave culture, the possible banning of music festivals on L.A. County-owned property and further push-pull between the two fronts of drug education and legislation: efforts to educate the public on avoiding adverse drug reactions versus an abstinence-based approach.

Efforts at spreading awareness about how to use Ecstasy in a “safe” manner, known as “harm reduction,” have been shot down in the past in Los Angeles County, largely due to the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003. This federal law makes it unlawful to knowingly operate a venue that functions as a place to use illicit drugs, which has sent electronic dance music event organizers scurrying to cover their legal tracks.

However, as people continue to die at almost every major rave in Southern California, these efforts, which persist despite government opposition, are insufficient to quell the maelstrom of injuries and deaths due to club drug use.

Although I did not know Tracy personally, her death hits close to home. Last summer, I was en route to the very same HARD Summer music festival. Having wanted to go to the music festival a few years prior, my strict Asian parents pointed to the death of 15-year-old Sasha Rodriguez at the Electric Daisy Carnival in 2010 and said, “No.” It wouldn’t be until I turned 18 that I would go. That day in 2014, I was just like Tracy: a female Asian UCLA student attending a summer rave.

Like many others, Tracy loved electronic music and the festival experience that comes with it, according to Jasmine Lin, a rising third-year communications studies student. At the same time, the increased reliance on rave culture both as emotional and stress release may be putting Asian-Americans at risk for Ecstasy-related adverse reactions, including death, even as rave attendance and Ecstasy usage become more commonplace in the general population. Whether that experience involves drugs is up to the individual, but the draw is obvious: The emotional effects of Ecstasy are well-documented and include euphoria and personal revelation.

Even before the integration of EDM into the mainstream, Asian-Americans, their drug use and the Asian-American dance club/rave scene have been studied, such as in a 2011 study of 100 Asian-Americans. In another paper based on a survey of 250 Bay Area Asian-Americans involved in the dance club/rave scene in 2010, all but three had tried at least one “club drug”: Ecstasy, LSD, methamphetamine, GHB, ketamine or Rohypnol.

Asian-American EDM culture may be something we are all marginally aware of as we pass by people flyering for Asian Greek EDM events on Bruin Walk, but beyond mere observation, the phenomenon begets the question: Why is Asian-American rave culture a thing?

Among other proposals in the literature, a few overarching theories seemed relevant. One, supported by a statement made by one Chinese-American woman, was that her experience with raves and Ecstasy helped her “balance out” the “unemotional and introverted” manner in which she had been brought up. Ecstasy and rave culture may give emotionally rigid Asians and Asian-Americans the freedom to express more emotions.

As a secondary point, one of the authors of the study, Geoffrey Hunt, also summarized another interview subject’s point of view: Asian-Americans “are stressed out and … need an outlet – and using Ecstasy and dancing can provide this.”

Natalie Tantisirirat, a rising third-year music history student and an attendee of this year’s HARD Summer, agreed. “There’s just this sense of community and carefree vibes that people don’t normally get to experience,” she said.

The desire for this unique and oft-revelatory experience, and the musical genre and event industry associated with it, aren’t going anywhere, even as young people continue to die at events in circumstances relating to Ecstasy usage, and as, in response, institutions call for harsher drug-related laws and bans on electronic music festivals in Los Angeles County.

Drugs can never be 100 percent safe, but most deaths caused by drug use have the potential to be prevented with widespread access to harm reduction resources and education. Rather than, as with every new announcement of a young life taken prematurely at a music festival, vilifying rave culture and trying to ban raves, why not come to terms with the reality: Illicit drug use, as it has been for many decades, will continue to at least partially define the coming-of-age experience for some.

Instead of trying to stifle this trend, as generations before us have seen with the war on drugs, we should push for the use of more harm reduction tactics. Currently, harm reduction information is easily available online through documentaries like “What’s In My Baggie?” and other sources.

Nevertheless, this information is less utilized thanks to a lack of advertising, especially on-site at raves. In recent years event organizers have provided better access to emergency medical services and free water – severe dehydration is associated with Ecstasy-related deaths. Though drug usage will never be risk-free, drug-related deaths could possibly be prevented through harm reduction and acknowledgement, as in the case of many states’ curriculums on sex education, where abstinence-based education regarding societal temptations has proven ineffective.

For all the failed D.A.R.E. education many of us received as children, it seems our generation has come to realize that drug use can be enjoyable and relatively safe in moderation, with the first-hand experiences of older millennials and scientific information available online.

Tracy’s passing is recent, and her absence will continue to be felt in the UCLA community for some time. It’s important to not lose sight of what her loss could mean for EDM fans, Asian-American or otherwise, whether or not they choose to partake in drug use, and what can be done, realistically, to make sure no family, community or social network has to feel the same pain again.

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Culture

Snapchat Stories: Conquering the Death Stairs of 1919

UCLA is filled with stairs all over campus. But the steps that are dreaded the most are the infamous “1919 stairs,” also known as the death stairs. These four tiers of steps lead to a heavenly cup of warm cafe latte with a delicious lemon poppyseed scone, a perfect balance of hot and cold in the Monte Bianco or a stomach-filling cheesy pizza. But when the food coma is in full effect, the stairs come back to haunt you. Those in Hedrick, Rieber and Hitch completely understand the pain and struggle.

So here’s a little story of the constant battle with the stairs that we go through every day.

1. First you’re going to look up at and mentally decide that you’re going to power through.

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2. You run up by stretching your legs across as many steps as you can, thinking that it will make the journey quicker and less strenuous.

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3. Then you realize that the people in front of you are being so slow.

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4. So you debate whether you should go around to the other side.

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5. Once you cut the person off you think you’re going to mob up these stairs again. But then you realize that the third tier of stairs are WAY steeper and you have to take a breather.

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6. Now you’re at the top and you feel the cool breeze, but you’re still sweating and out of breath.

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Congrats! Just a couple more steps until you’re at the doors ready to go in the room and rest.

7. Oops, you left your Bruin Card at your table. Back down the stairs you go. Good luck coming back up.

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Culture

Experiencing Chinese New Year: UCLA and Beyond

As you might already know, Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Lunar New Year, is on Thursday, Feb. 19. The holiday is an opportunity to usher in prosperity, good fortune, good health and happiness with the coming new year. For those of you who want to ring in the “Year of the Ram” with friends, there are a few places to celebrate, both on campus and in the greater Los Angeles area. From traditional food to firecrackers – and everything in between – here are a few events to check out within the next week.

On Campus:

Feast at Rieber: Lunar New Year Celebration

What: Feast is planning a themed menu especially for this holiday. Enjoy traditional Chinese cuisine with special features including an appearance by ACA’s Chinese Lion Dance troupe.

When: Feb. 19, in the evening

 

Chinese New Year Paintings at the UCLA East Asian Library

What: Come see a selection of 22 Chinese New Year paintings on display for a limited time only that have been donated by the Shanghai Library, a partner of the UCLA Library.

When: Feb. 4 at 8 a.m. to March 4 at 11 p.m.

 

In Los Angeles:

Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival

What: Come on down for the 115th annual Chinese New Year parade and festival in downtown Chinatown that includes entertainment such as kung fu exhibitions, food trucks, pingpong, traditional Chinese paper folding, face painting and more. This event is free and open to all!

Where: Chinatown

When: Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

 

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Arts & EntertainmentCulture

February Favorites: LA Fairs, Fests and Festivals

credits to the Daily Bruin photo archive

It seems that the sun has decided to grace us with its beamy presence over the last few days and hopefully it’ll stay that way. Students are busting out those summer shorts (they were never really gone) and the shades are back. Los Angeles is beginning to look like itself again and you know what that means: fairs, fests and festivals.

There will be lots of interesting and quirky events in Los Angeles in the future, but here are some FREE events you can go to this month!

L.A. Zine Fest (Feb. 15)

Perfect for those in need of a break from the computer screen, the L.A. Zine Fest celebrates self publishing and do-it-yourself magazines in the community. More than 180 writers, comic illustrators, photographers and artists from across the country are coming to display, sell or exchange their work. This fest also offers free workshops with speakers to promote the sharing of literary ideas.

Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival (Feb. 21)

photo credit to the Daily Bruin photo archive

Although it’s the year of the goat, the golden dragon parade will be continuing it’s 116th (yes, 116 – it’s one of Los Angeles’ oldest traditions) annual two-day celebration in Chinatown. This year, the festival is going for a “east meets west” theme as new food trucks, musicians, and dancers will be present. However, the traditional dancing acts and Chinese beer gardens will still be there for those who missed it last year. For those tight on time, the famous golden dragon parade will be held on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 1 p.m.

Artists and Fleas (Feb. 21-22)

Here you can find vintage collectables ranging from flannels to small potted plants, as well as new up-and-coming artists and musicians in the neighborhood. In addition, food trucks and DJs will be around to provide options to just relax and walk around. Artists from around Los Angeles will be coming to display their artwork and designs for everyone to see. An afternoon spent submerged in vintage finds is always an afternoon well spent.

Know of any other events going on in L.A. this month? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us at @dbmojo.

 

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Culture

UCLA Store’s 11 Gifts to Give this Holiday Season

Thanksgiving has passed, December has yet to arrive and Mariah Carey’s greatest holiday hits are ring-ting-a-ting-a-ling all over the radio. This can only mean one thing: Christmas.

When it comes to gifts, I usually have a Regina George-esque attitude (“I don’t send them, I just get them”). But Christmas is the exception, when giving gifts brings warmth to my heart and makes a hole in my wallet.

Thinking about buying some presents for your friends and family this holiday season? Are you car-less, or at least not willing to make the trek to anything past Wilson Plaza?

Luckily, your life just got easier. Here’s a gift guide to our very own UCLA Store, so you can fret a little less about what to get for that one distant cousin that always happens to buy you something, but you never get them anything and you always feel really guilty, and so you try shopping for them but, like, how are you supposed to know what they like? Anyways.

FOR HIM:

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UCLA Bruins No. 1 basketball jersey (white)

$60

This one goes out to the athletic older brother who loves reminding the world that he works out and has big arms. Cheers to you.

FOR HER:

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UCLA women’s double arch V-neck tee – blue

$30

Simple, yet cute – an easy gift for a girlfriend, sister, friend. Plus, it’s performance fabric, so it’s perfect for working out in.

FOR MOM:

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UCLA arch mom crewneck sweatshirt – blue

$40

Especially great for those mothers who love to have hot chocolate and sit by the fireplace on those cold winter nights.

FOR DAD:

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UCLA dad license frame

$25

Perfect for a father who loves to rep the amazing school his child goes to.

FOR THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER:

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UCLA musical Bruin plush

$24

Everyone is a sucker for teddy bears. Are you in a long distance relationship? All the more relevant. Now your significant other can cuddle up with a little somethin’ that reminds them of you.

FOR THE MOST-SPIRITED:

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UCLA block tube socks – white

$12

Socks are a staple Christmas gift, so why not change it up and slap on some UCLA spirit?

FOR THE DOG:

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UCLA pet bowl

$27

We can’t forget the puppy! The cutest member of the family needs a present as well.

FOR HOME:

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UCLA 2014 tree ornament

$9

A universal gift that can be given to anyone: grandparent, uncle, aunt, friend or lover.

FOR THE BOOKWORM:

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‘What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions’ by Randall Munroe

$14.40

Can’t find the perfect book to give in the store? Fun fact: The BookZone can order any book you need and have it shipped to the store.

FOR THE COFFEE-LOVER:

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UCLA Enzo mug

$9

Let’s face it. We always thought coffee was for old people, but, now in college, I am a hot mess without my daily dose of caffeine.

FOR THE TECHIE:

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UCLA 13-inch slipsuit navy laptop sleeve

$39.95

A laptop contains all of life’s important information – why not keep it safe and represent UCLA at the same time?

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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