Spacedance Poster

Potential For Friendliness

Words by Darcy Shakes

I haven’t seen Judy Shane since I was fifteen. She’s a fond friend of my parent’s from California.

What with everything happening all over the world, we called her over Zoom a few weekends ago.

I waddled into my parents’ room forty minutes late to the video-call, and Judy laughed at my residually made up face and hungover demeanour.

Most of her excitement, she told me, came from being able to say: I know someone on the planet who is out partying!

The expectation that someone might feel foul after a big night out is, these days, the default.

As young people, we don’t head to the party until we’ve drunk enough at kick ons to start tapping out of our reality.

The trend is so casual that, when it comes to the morning after, we assume it’s what led to our friend feeling dusty. We laugh it off, without checking if anything else happened, or if they feel insecure.

When I was fifteen – when I last saw Judy – I wouldn’t have shared any details of a night out with my parents or their good friend.

That was due in part to age, drinking laws, and needing to be more secretive about nights out. But there were many times I felt insecure about something that happened, and I didn’t say so.

All of the education I’d had at this point in life, of sex, drugs & rock ’n’ roll, had me thinking that sex and drugs could only happen in private. That they could only be discussed in hushed tones.

A few Saturday nights ago, I went to a Friendly Potential gig.

Space Dance.

Where we were spoiled with live music, lights, friends and a funky mosh.

Like Judy Shane, we were also stopped from going out for a kanikani, during our nation-wide rāhui on physical contact.

I enjoyed going back to the rudiments during lockdown. I wonder if I feel less of a drive to go back to as fast paced a lifestyle, or less of a dependence on constant stimulation. I know for sure, that it grew my appreciation for intimacy at a gig.

I’ve never felt more comfortable or elated being squished against everyone around me in the crowd than I felt at Space Dance. The K Road regulars, and familiar faces from gigs Auckland- wide, were back. Reuniting for a long-awaited boogie was gratifying, and I get a lot out of that sense of community.

I lost count of how many nameless friends I approached, exclaiming that it was great to be running into them again in another sweaty crowd of dancing.

I want to share that with my parents. I wonder if they are happy to hear about their kid loving a holistic change in her taste for gigs, party atmosphere, and drug behaviour.

Dad’s a muso, and he’s pleased to see me ramble about great production at a gig. I tell him about the radiant red saturn rings hung above the dance-floor, amplified by the mirrors adorning walls around me. They made an enticing environment. The mood was happy, so I felt safe while I spun on an imaginary hoverboard in my head and my feet.

The hallucination felt like a trip to space from Karangahape Road, if you will.

It was my first full body experience, but you don’t know how much enjoyment you’ll get out of feeling like you’re stuck on a hoverboard until you try. I loved it so much that I told my Dad all about it.

Sharing your wildest tripping stories is easier when they are ones that happened in a really safe place. I knew that every party-goer around me had my back.

A year ago, if I’d hallucinated like that I might’ve freaked and spun out.

The difference came from feeling calm in the back of my mind about being vulnerable, because I could trust everyone around me enough to be comfortably impaired around them.

I also know that I’m lucky to have kind, understanding parents.

Most of the negative aspects of the experience of a casual user come from drugs being forced into existing privately.

There is no denying the dangers that come with regular use, but understanding what you’re taking helps you to dose correctly.

You learn if you like how something feels, and enjoy using things again.

Raving in Auckland does breed a culture of friendship. It feels safe and fun every time, so you feel fulfilled going back and feeling closer to the familiar dancing faces.

In Portugal, where drugs have been decriminalised, the rates of past year and month drug use decreased. Rates of continuation of drug use also decreased, while lifetime drug use has increased slightly.

I fit that category. I have access to positive and safe experiences with drugs, and I feel connected to my reality while dancing and raving late at night. So, I’ve kept going, and I’m happier for it.

An increase in Portugal’s lifetime use rate reflects an increase in experiences just like mine.

There’s very little we can do to stop some of us from finding drugs to be an exciting idea.

Legalisation helps people who want to take drugs safely, do so.

We have an opportunity in Aotearoa this year, to vote to legalise cannabis.

A yes vote supports safe partying culture, which underpins so much of Tāmaki’s gig scene.

A yes vote makes it easier to learn which drugs aren’t for you. Which, ultimately, lessens the rate of scary experiences for young people.

I ’m glad I could go to Space Dance, and be the one person who our Californian friend Judy knows is partying.

I hope that, come September 19th, we have one more piece of legislation in common with where Judy lives.