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Exploring the Drugs-Crime Connection within the Electronic Dance Music and Hip-Hop Nightclub Scenes

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2007
151 pages
This study examined how the cultural ethos, behavioral norms, activities, and individual and group identities (subcultural features) inherent in the electronic dance music (EDM) and hip hop/rap (HH) nightclubs in Philadelphia, PA, impacted the relationship between alcohol/drugs and crime, with additional attention to victimization.
Six major kinds of crime and victimization were found at Philadelphia's EDM and HH nightclubs: illegal drug use (marijuana, ecstasy, cocaine, crystal methamphetamine, miscellaneous hallucinogens, and prescription drugs-narcotics); illegal drug sales (mostly club drugs but also cocaine and marijuana); property crime (theft of personal effects of patrons); vandalism; physical assault; and sexual assault and harassment. Drug use was more prevalent and serious at commercial EDM events, and alcohol abuse was most serious at commercial hip hop events. Physical and sexual assaults of all kinds were far more common at commercial events, with hip hop events being the most problematic. Males reported committing all types of crime more often than females. Physical assault was more likely at race-segregated parties; however, racial insults (most directed at minorities by Whites) also instigated some violence. The drugs-crime connection did not apply equally across crime and victimization types. Patrons in the nightclub scenes viewed alcohol consumption and even over-consumption as a normative part of the clubbing experience, even though the respondents themselves might not have abused alcohol. Binge drinking was rampant, aided by alcohol promotions and related gimmicks by the establishment to increase alcohol sales. White males were more likely to engage in binge drinking. The study used a multifaceted ethnographic approach that featured indepth interviews and ongoing e-mail communications for 6 months with 51 diverse participants in the EDM and HH nightclub scenes in Philadelphia. These data were triangulated with direct observation of 33 club events. 7 tables, 1 figure, and 189 references

Date Published: April 1, 2007