Unit: Investigative Journalism 2014
A recent uprising of a genre dubbed ‘Melbourne Sound’, originating from the Melbourne club scene, is welcoming the popular use of the homewear drug ‘GHB’ back into Melbourne’s nightlife.
The abuse of recreational drugs has been evident throughout Melbourne for an endless amount of time, however the trend seems to be growing at a rapid rate due to local nightclubs promoting their venues as a
gateway for illicit drugs.
Commonly referred to by teens as ‘juice’, gamma-hydroxy-butyrate is a colourless, and odourless liquid found in floor cleaning products, nail polish and super glue removers.
The dangerous drug, which can cost around $20 for a single night out, is usually carried around in a small bottle, and swallowed; or injected into a drink by a plunger.
Upon consuming the drug, clubbers take on a particular dance move labelled ‘the juicy wiggle’, which replicates someone’s body when overdosing on the drug, otherwise referred to as ‘blowing out’.
And the ‘Melbourne Sound’ genre is the music that goes along with this.
Created by Melbourne based DJs, Melbourne Sound (otherwise known as “bangers”) has evolved from electronic music, and taken the city by storm.
Homegrown videographer, Adrian Ortega describes the trend as “a sub-genre of hard house [music], that is essentially a simple melody build up with a large energetic offbeat bass drop”.
Ortega’s “Bodycrash”, a 30-minute documentary honing in on Melbourne’s club scene, discusses whether GHB is a direct connection to Melbourne Sound, whilst explaining the scene to those unfamiliar with it.
“The concept being ‘what exactly is this scene? And what goes hand in hand with it?’” Ortega said.
However it is not only the dance moves that allow the high use of GHB to be evident throughout Melbourne, but also club promotions where venues are targeting those who use the drug.
“Music, as well as other things, creates communities that people talk about.” Ortega said.
“If [a particular] style of music has a known connection to a certain type of dance, drug, hairstyle or dress code, then yes, certain clubs may be promoting the use of illicit drugs to their venue”.
Rather than the traditional 4AM close, Melbourne nightlife kicks on through to Sunday, and even Monday afternoons; where clubbers are invited to brand new events beginning at 4-5AM labelled “recovery sessions”.
However despite the name, this newly developed way of partying challenges patrons to stay up as late as possible; something that is a lot easier to do when under the influence of GHB.
“The 24-hour party scene is definitely targeted towards drug users,” Ortega said.
“However I do believe that if these people weren’t at recovery, they’d be home doing drugs…. it certainly seems like a more commercial and normal thing to part take in, whereas maybe 10 years ago, people would be using drugs more secretly at their homes. Not with 200-300 people at a large venue”.
Creator and director of Power Station and Survivor! Club of Legends, Daniel Baha said although recovery sessions may highlight the use of illicit drugs, it depends on how the venue and promoter markets it.
“What are they pushing? What’s their culture and how’s their crowd?” he said.
“If you are pushing a safe and fun vibe the recovery experience can be really safe and enjoyable, but some other venues do promote getting as loose as you can and pushing through to the early hours of the morning”.
“The venues who choose that road tend to have a bad reputation with a bad crowd, Melbourne Sound clubs to be exact,” Baha said.
Recovery Sessions can be seen advertised throughout social media, inviting clubbers to attend parties from 2pm-8am, and to come down and “get juicy”.
“There is a night held at a venue that I only saw recently on Facebook that was called ‘Blow Out,’” Ortega said.
“Blowing out is known on the street as slang for when someone is overdosing on GHB. Nights like this are direct targets to drug users”.
A Melbourne nightclub employee said there’s no denying that GHB is evident within local nightclubs.
“I would see the substance, along with containers and plungers on the ground around the club,” the source said.
“It’s a cheap, easy and very dangerous drug to get around. GHB has been around for over 12 years, it’s just now you have dealers selling to kids that have never experienced drugs, or the drug culture”.
440 GHB-related ambulance call-outs occurred in a 12-month period throughout 2013. The use of GHB
carries high risk of overdose, particularly as a result of respiratory failure.
Identifiable symptoms include passing out uncontrollably, loss of motor skills, vomiting, and loud indecipherable yelling.
In an interview on Neil Mitchell’s 3AW program, Salvation Army Major Brendan Nottle said he had seen “bodies lying in the street’’ in the middle of the day as families walked by, particularly on weekends.
“You’ve got kids going past there on the way to the footy, you’ve got kids and families off to have breakfast or to go to the aquarium or places like that and they’re seeing all of these bodies lying on the street,” he said.
What’s Melbourne Sound? Find out for yourself: