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From its first publication in 1997, Altered State established itself as the definitive text on dance culture. This second edition includes accounts of the election campaign of Tony Blair which used an Ecstasy anthem as its musical theme, and the trial and acquittal of a 19-year-old for supplying the drug that killed Leah Betts, and her links to East End gangsters. Drawing From its first publication in 1997, Altered State established itself as the definitive text on dance culture. This second edition includes accounts of the election campaign of Tony Blair which used an Ecstasy anthem as its musical theme, and the trial and acquittal of a 19-year-old for supplying the drug that killed Leah Betts, and her links to East End gangsters. Drawing on a wealth of background research and original interviews with key figures on both sides of the law, Altered State examines the causes and contexts, ideologies and myths of Ecstasy culture, dramatising its euphoric narrative from peak experience to comedown and aftermath, and shedding new light on the social history of the most spectacular youth movement of the century.


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From its first publication in 1997, Altered State established itself as the definitive text on dance culture. This second edition includes accounts of the election campaign of Tony Blair which used an Ecstasy anthem as its musical theme, and the trial and acquittal of a 19-year-old for supplying the drug that killed Leah Betts, and her links to East End gangsters. Drawing From its first publication in 1997, Altered State established itself as the definitive text on dance culture. This second edition includes accounts of the election campaign of Tony Blair which used an Ecstasy anthem as its musical theme, and the trial and acquittal of a 19-year-old for supplying the drug that killed Leah Betts, and her links to East End gangsters. Drawing on a wealth of background research and original interviews with key figures on both sides of the law, Altered State examines the causes and contexts, ideologies and myths of Ecstasy culture, dramatising its euphoric narrative from peak experience to comedown and aftermath, and shedding new light on the social history of the most spectacular youth movement of the century.

30 review for Altered State: The Story of Ecstasy Culture and Acid House

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Rubenstein

    this book makes you learn new things. these letters face forward: b c e f h k m n p r s t these letters face backward: a d g j q u y z these letters look right at you: i l o v w x and if you read the ones that look right at you as a sentence, you're saying, "i love wax." think about that. this book makes you learn new things. these letters face forward: b c e f h k m n p r s t these letters face backward: a d g j q u y z these letters look right at you: i l o v w x and if you read the ones that look right at you as a sentence, you're saying, "i love wax." think about that.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Baal Of

    I missed out on most of this movement, although the bulk of it happened in the UK and various parts of Europe (and other places like Goa of course). and not here in Austin, TX. I remember the existence of raves and I think that my friends and I even tried to go to one or more, but somehow never quite pulled it off. The details are lost in time for me. All of the events covered in this book were mostly over by the time I was really starting to explore electronic music beyond ambient, synthpop and I missed out on most of this movement, although the bulk of it happened in the UK and various parts of Europe (and other places like Goa of course). and not here in Austin, TX. I remember the existence of raves and I think that my friends and I even tried to go to one or more, but somehow never quite pulled it off. The details are lost in time for me. All of the events covered in this book were mostly over by the time I was really starting to explore electronic music beyond ambient, synthpop and industrial. I'm pretty sure the first time I saw Orbital was maybe 1993 or 1994. In any case, this book provides a fascinating, insider's history of how Ecstasy, and other drugs, interacted with dance oriented electronic music to create an entire youth culture along with the inevitable moral panic of the older generation who just couldn't understand what was happening. As with most conflicts of this sort, I am struck by how much harm is caused by the criminalization of recreational behaviors, and why my personal approach to issues like this, specifically drug usage, is one of minimizing harm. As the British people enabled and encouraged the police and their politicians to enact ever harsher penalties, driven largely by conservative tabloids like The Sun, they literally kept making things worse by creating a criminal underground to supply the drugs. Of course that also meant the drugs became increasingly polluted with other ingredients which further exacerbated the harm. And that doesn't take into account the criminal violence that came along with gangs taking over the supply networks. However, the author is careful to not lay the blame solely at the feet of external forces, but acknowledges that the idea that ecstasy was a completely safe drug, as many proclaimed, is also not accurate. Any drug has risks, and Collin is careful not to candy coat the reality. From the musical perspective, I was already familiar with most of the music mentioned in this book, with a few specific tracks I'm not sure whether I've heard or not. Many of them I have in my collection: Orbital, 808 State, The Shamen, Inspiral Carpets, Stone Roses, and Happy Mondays. There is a lot of house, acid house, and other subgenres that I find spotty at best, with a lot of tracks that are too repetitive for my taste, but other tracks can be transcendent under the right circumstances. I find it interesting that one of the trajectories that was taken towards the end of this chapter of rave culture, i.e. Gabber and Happy Hardcore, I find distasteful for reasons not unlike the similar transition of Industrial into TerrorEBM (or TerrorBanana as some of us DJs called it) - the music became faster, more testosterone fueled, simpler, and dumber. I think I'll keep this book near to hand for a while, and listen to the songs I'm not as familiar with. Maybe I should create a list.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    If you are at all interested in the history of electronic/dance music or just the evolution of musical pop culture and "scenes", you owe it to yourself to check this out. This guy's historical narratives are so tight, he can make the execution of an underground rave in early '90s Britain unfold like the Watergate scandal. If you are at all interested in the history of electronic/dance music or just the evolution of musical pop culture and "scenes", you owe it to yourself to check this out. This guy's historical narratives are so tight, he can make the execution of an underground rave in early '90s Britain unfold like the Watergate scandal.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wesley Gerrard

    I've already read a Matthew Collin book - This is Serbia Calling - so I was chuffed when I stumbled upon this work, a history of UK dance music culture. As a DJ and Promoter for 24 years I'm quite aware of a lot of the history of dance music in the UK. This book, however, filled in many of the gaps, and was a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening read. The well known story of how acid house culture came to the UK via Ibiza's Summer of Love where Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold I've already read a Matthew Collin book - This is Serbia Calling - so I was chuffed when I stumbled upon this work, a history of UK dance music culture. As a DJ and Promoter for 24 years I'm quite aware of a lot of the history of dance music in the UK. This book, however, filled in many of the gaps, and was a thoroughly entertaining and enlightening read. The well known story of how acid house culture came to the UK via Ibiza's Summer of Love where Nicky Holloway, Danny Rampling, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung experienced the delight's of Alfredo weaving magic on the White Isle and brought back their ideas to the London clubscene, is a familiar tale, often recited religiously in club culture publications like Mixmag. The author gives a comprehensive account of the beginnings and it was great to hear the true story and what bliss these guys must have experienced. Shoom, Spectrum and the Milk Bar launched successfully and the early adopters were soon welcoming new 'Acid Teds' and a hippy revival based on lush house electronica began to hit the mainstream. The book looks at London and Manchester in detail as well as exploring some of the less likelier destinations of UK club culture like Blackburn and later the countryside free party and rave movement. The study of the fracture of dance music into its various sub-genres and the movement of people that followed each branch provides much analysis and we see Warehouse parties, techno anarchists, drum and bass division and later the emergence of new genres like speed garage, grime and dubstep. The book focuses a lot on the role of narcotics in this new ascendant youth culture. The critical importance of ecstasy (MDMA) to the whole movement which eventually led to a massive increase and normalisation of drug culture across the country, with polydrug use becoming popular and clubbers and ravers exploring acid (LSD), cocaine, heroin, ketamine, amphetamines and the various different types of cannabis. It's amazing how much anti dance music propaganda was spread by the media. Governments were scared and there was a great deal of legislation set up to counter the whole movement. Enlightened masses were a danger to the establishment and the whole culture was seen as an alternative political situation. The long-running battles between promoters, DJs and the UK Police was interesting and it was noted by Police fighting the organisers of parties that these people ran their operations like military units and were very effective at getting their events into successful fruition. I don't think I've read a better and more comprehensive book on the history of dance music in the UK, and whereas the initial boom period may now be over, dance music is certainly in the mainstream day to day lives of the UK to this day and will be for a long time into the future. I think that it is important and inspiring to learn about the history of the greatest mass cultural movement, in my opinion, that emerged in the twentieth century.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    *Note: I have the non-updated version from before 1998, so I'm unsure of what was added* This was a great walk-through of sub-culture life that led to both the explosion of drug-use among party-goers, as well as the influences and party scenes that created the fundamentals for the electronic music scenes. Overall, most of the details are present, but since the author covers so much ground he does run into a few gaps (mostly in the re-telling of the US electronic music stories, due mostly to the l *Note: I have the non-updated version from before 1998, so I'm unsure of what was added* This was a great walk-through of sub-culture life that led to both the explosion of drug-use among party-goers, as well as the influences and party scenes that created the fundamentals for the electronic music scenes. Overall, most of the details are present, but since the author covers so much ground he does run into a few gaps (mostly in the re-telling of the US electronic music stories, due mostly to the lack of depth consistent with the story at hand, so not at all detracting). However, the beauty of the book is in the intertwined story-lines of the drug use and electronic music culture. I actually think I should re-read it soon, as I am beginning to forget the details that I was concerned with when I originally read it...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sophy H

    I bloody loved this book!!! I was probably like 6-7 years too late for the acid house/rave scene, despite loving house/dance music, so I'm always gutted when I hear about the scene and the mad raves that used to happen because I would have loved to have been part of it. This book charts the scene from its very beginnings right through the 80's and 90's. The author has copious knowledge of and relates the experiences of everyone involved in acid house, from club promoters to ravers, to drug distri I bloody loved this book!!! I was probably like 6-7 years too late for the acid house/rave scene, despite loving house/dance music, so I'm always gutted when I hear about the scene and the mad raves that used to happen because I would have loved to have been part of it. This book charts the scene from its very beginnings right through the 80's and 90's. The author has copious knowledge of and relates the experiences of everyone involved in acid house, from club promoters to ravers, to drug distributors. Every facet of the scene is expertly covered and viewed from multiple angles, including, of course, Ecstasy as the "love drug", "dance drug", "Ibiza drug". I was fascinated and learned a lot from reading this. I found it highly interesting, entertaining, and illuminating. Well worth a read if you're interested in the scene.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Marcos

    Con una soltura increíble, Matthew Collin navega entre cientos de documentos, noticias y entrevistas de la época y narra una historia que transcurre desde mediados de los años 70, con el nacimiento de la música House en Estados Unidos, hasta finales de los años 90, cuando la música electrónica está ya diversificada en múltiples géneros y es popular en las discotecas de toda Europa. Todo lo relevante para entender los orígenes y evolución inicial del Acid House, así como la relación directa de di Con una soltura increíble, Matthew Collin navega entre cientos de documentos, noticias y entrevistas de la época y narra una historia que transcurre desde mediados de los años 70, con el nacimiento de la música House en Estados Unidos, hasta finales de los años 90, cuando la música electrónica está ya diversificada en múltiples géneros y es popular en las discotecas de toda Europa. Todo lo relevante para entender los orígenes y evolución inicial del Acid House, así como la relación directa de dicho origen con las drogas de síntesis, aparece aquí. No son pocos, por tanto, los episodios míticos para ambas cuestiones históricas que quedan recogidos en este ensayo: 

1. Larry Levan y su extraordinaria aportación a la música House como DJ principal en la legendaria sala “Paradise Garage” de Nueva York, donde los ritmos disco-funk seducían a la comunidad afro y homosexual. 2. La posición del artista Keith Haring como icono y retratista de una época en la que una parte de la sociedad reprimida buscaba trascender su oscura vida a través de la danza frenética y el amor sin barreras en una pista de baile. 3. La mítica escena de música electrónica de Chicago con Knuckles y Ron Hardy como DJ’s de cabecera, capaces de arrebatar cada noche en delirios chamánicos a la comunidad que disfrutaba de sus mezclas espirituales. 4. El redescubrimiento de la MDMA a manos del químico Sasha Shulgin y su esparcimiento por la comunidad intelectual estadounidense como herramienta terapéutica. 5. El posterior salto de esta droga al uso recreativo a través del colectivo gay afincado en la cultura del baile en Nueva York, Chicago y California. 6. La llegada de la MDMA a Ibiza por las rutas de hippies (“els peluts”) que transitaban el eje California-Baleares-Goa-Katmandú, y el descubrimiento de la explosiva mezcla de consumo de droga más música electrónica por parte de veraneantes de clase obrera del Reino Unido a finales de los años 80. 7. La revelación que supuso esto para dichos veraneantes, que encontraron una razón de ser en la cultura balear, una herramienta, al fin y al cabo, con la que poder lidiar con la restrictiva política conservadora y ultra liberal del tercer mandato consecutivo de Margaret Thatcher. 8. El traslado de la música House y el éxtasis desde la isla española hasta Gran Bretaña, con la apertura de míticas salas de fiesta (Shoom, The Trip, RIP, Spectrum, Haçienda…) y la explosión de la movida clubber del Acid House durante el “Verano del Amor” en Reino Unido. 9. El aire revolucionario pro-comunidad, pro-amor, pro-ecologista y pro-tecnología utópica que se respiraba en la cultura del baile por aquella época. 10. El salto evolutivo de los colectivos Punk y Hooligan que pasaron a formar parte de la cultura clubber cuando se percataron del potencial que tenía la MDMA junto con la música electrónica para potenciar el disfrute y la desconexión de la alienación opresora de la sociedad ultraliberal y neoconservadora. 11. El surgimiento de mafias que se encargaban de gestionar el mercado de éxtasis en un marco prohibicionista, así como los problemas criminales que esto conllevó para desgracia de la revolución política asociada a la cultura del baile. 12. El desarrollo de las políticas prohibicionistas de drogas de la mano de los políticos conservadores, los diarios sensacionalistas y las empresas de bebidas alcohólicas que estaban escandalizadas con el progreso de la movida clubber. 13. La colisión de los nómadas del Techno, los hippies y la cultura Rave (fiestas libres aderezadas con música electrónica en espacios abiertos o edificios normalmente abandonados) para dar lugar a la mítica época de los sound systems y sus reminiscencias de la contracultura hippy de los años 60, destacando el ya histórico “Spiral Tribe”. 14. Los icónicos manifiestos psiquedélicos de Nicholas Saunders y Terence McKenna. 15. La aparición del Jungle como género contracultural y racializado una vez el House y el Techno pasaron a formar parte del mainstream blanco. 16. El nacimiento de las organizaciones de reducción de riesgos en el consumo de drogas que abogaban por la información frente a la prohibición. 17. El establecimiento de Alemania como baluarte del Techno en Europa y su trascendencia a la hora de generar comunión en una sociedad previamente dividida por el telón de acero. El cambio de paradigma, en fin, que supusieron todos estos detalles y muchos más en el ocio y la musical de los años 90, así como en el devenir cultural y político de una generación que quedaría marcada para siempre como una generación química, y cuyos avances, retrocesos y enseñanzas han trascendido hasta nuestros días.

 Si te interesa todo esto y más, prepárate para sumergirte en una experiencia de una profundidad inusitada. Prepárate para vivir una época fascinante a través de la prosa de Matthew Collin. Prepárate para leer Altered State. 
 
Nota: 3,5 / 5

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Good read. It’s most useful and interesting when pinpointing the birth of ‘dance music’ and the cultural mix, musical genres and ethnic makeup, which created it (New York, Detroit, Ibiza) and the scenes which helped give birth to it (Disco and Studio 54, Jazz Funk, Northern Soul and hippy beaches). There’s also some great oral history accounts of how the scene developed, particularly acid house parties in fields around Kent. After this, so pretty much everything after 1990, he seems to dismiss. Good read. It’s most useful and interesting when pinpointing the birth of ‘dance music’ and the cultural mix, musical genres and ethnic makeup, which created it (New York, Detroit, Ibiza) and the scenes which helped give birth to it (Disco and Studio 54, Jazz Funk, Northern Soul and hippy beaches). There’s also some great oral history accounts of how the scene developed, particularly acid house parties in fields around Kent. After this, so pretty much everything after 1990, he seems to dismiss. The book is also London and Manchester centric. Interesting book but with some massive gaps and some dodgy moral posturing about decline brought about by mass working class involvement.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Louis

    Lags a bit around the middle but it's a fascinating enough story to keep the pages turning. Like the dreams of a generation of starry eyed ravers the promise of this book is better than the reality... BUT the story is one that must be told and retold to keep that dream alive. And the energy is definitely infectious. So read it, enjoy it, feel envious for youth and nostalgic for the hazy euphoria and raw potential of those times. A little bit of togetherness is something we could all do with in 20 Lags a bit around the middle but it's a fascinating enough story to keep the pages turning. Like the dreams of a generation of starry eyed ravers the promise of this book is better than the reality... BUT the story is one that must be told and retold to keep that dream alive. And the energy is definitely infectious. So read it, enjoy it, feel envious for youth and nostalgic for the hazy euphoria and raw potential of those times. A little bit of togetherness is something we could all do with in 2020 so far.

  10. 4 out of 5

    thomas stubbs

    Detailed A really good read. Enjoyed it as the years were progressing into the times I could relate to. Even 1992 comming home age 13 to parents tripping and listening to Stu Allen on the radio. Reading this book let me know what was going on in the scene outside of my small teeneage world. Fantastic read decades on

  11. 4 out of 5

    Inka Eastmond

    Beautifully Written A great read with juicy insights and accurate portrayls of a licentious slice of modern history. Pre-teens in the 1980's looked back at the psychedelic revolution of the 1960's with envy and longing so imagine our delight when by the end of the decade we were swept up in our own psycho-spiritual storm of dancing and debauchery. Beautifully Written A great read with juicy insights and accurate portrayls of a licentious slice of modern history. Pre-teens in the 1980's looked back at the psychedelic revolution of the 1960's with envy and longing so imagine our delight when by the end of the decade we were swept up in our own psycho-spiritual storm of dancing and debauchery.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nate Stevens

    A clear and well-researched insight into the growth, continued relevance, and "fall" of the true underground in the UK starting with the Second Summer of Love, Collin makes this interesting history very entertaining. A clear and well-researched insight into the growth, continued relevance, and "fall" of the true underground in the UK starting with the Second Summer of Love, Collin makes this interesting history very entertaining.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julian Suarez

    Great historical book as well as beautiful and griping writing

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    A history of England's 89 "Summer of Love" (Acid House! E' Em Up! etc. etc.) as viewed the lens of UK politics. It's a decent read but a bit too earnest and thesis-y at times. I much prefer the daft oral history of Once in a Lifetime. It's less focused on constructing a sociopolitical narrative but the stories just come through more vividly and you get a much better feel for what things were like at the time. Ecstasy, it's a hell of a drug. A history of England's 89 "Summer of Love" (Acid House! E' Em Up! etc. etc.) as viewed the lens of UK politics. It's a decent read but a bit too earnest and thesis-y at times. I much prefer the daft oral history of Once in a Lifetime. It's less focused on constructing a sociopolitical narrative but the stories just come through more vividly and you get a much better feel for what things were like at the time. Ecstasy, it's a hell of a drug.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    After years of reading fiction I decided to give an information book a chance. Since I was a huge music nut back in the early 00's ( I still am but now it's controlled) I was always fascinated between the relationship of music and drugs and altered state does make things clear. From Jack the Tab to Fatboy Slim this book details the history of drugs and the tunes they are associated with. For a beginner this is great. After years of reading fiction I decided to give an information book a chance. Since I was a huge music nut back in the early 00's ( I still am but now it's controlled) I was always fascinated between the relationship of music and drugs and altered state does make things clear. From Jack the Tab to Fatboy Slim this book details the history of drugs and the tunes they are associated with. For a beginner this is great.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    A lucid, well written, and unbiased account of the heady days of the ecstasy/house music movement. The best books of this kind also deal with the sociopolitical aspects of the scene, which is well documented here. Some of the behaviour by the police at this strange and exciting time in British culture (in collusion with both the Conservatives and Labour) was quite disgraceful. Mind you, the criminal underworld and the relentless commercialization of it all played a part in its demise as well.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andy Theyers

    Everybody needs a history. In 20 years this, Ecstasy and the Dance Culture and Fierce Dancing will be the Storming Heaven LSD and the American Dream, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Politics of Ecstasy for another generation. Or something. It's very interesting, anyway. Everybody needs a history. In 20 years this, Ecstasy and the Dance Culture and Fierce Dancing will be the Storming Heaven LSD and the American Dream, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and The Politics of Ecstasy for another generation. Or something. It's very interesting, anyway.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Ewart

    I had to rate this a 5, if only because i am name-checked in the thanks. Matthew has done his research really well - he interviewed all the main protagonists, and got some reliable heresay on those who were eithe too far gone or dead... I think this is a superb book - it actually is the story of ecstasy and acid house - long gone days, but fondly remembered!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eireann

    interesting look at the evolution of musical counterculture alongside drug culture and increasing political repression. gave considerable insight to how "global dance culture" came to be what it is today. interesting look at the evolution of musical counterculture alongside drug culture and increasing political repression. gave considerable insight to how "global dance culture" came to be what it is today.

  20. 4 out of 5

    fahad

    concise history of the UK dance scene from the summer of love into the mid 90s (I haven't read the updated one, which may go further) concise history of the UK dance scene from the summer of love into the mid 90s (I haven't read the updated one, which may go further)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neal Grout

    A definitive history of the E generation, the late 80s to early 90s ravers, from a British perspective.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Probably the definitive account of the explosion of rave culture and its roots. A fascinating read if you've ever waved your hands in the air and fallen off a few podiums in your time... Probably the definitive account of the explosion of rave culture and its roots. A fascinating read if you've ever waved your hands in the air and fallen off a few podiums in your time...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Loof

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paweł Sajewicz

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  28. 4 out of 5

    Trish

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marlene Bendyna

  30. 5 out of 5

    José

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