drugs and clubs: (a rough guide to your rights)

Entering the club

Clubs have the right to search anyone entering their premises, and must provide searchers of both sexes. They can refuse entry to anyone who refuses a search and can only insist on searching outside clothes, pockets or bags.

They must conduct the search in a decent manner and with respect to the individual. They cannot insist on a more intimate search without your permission. Legally, they can only conduct strip searches and searches inside clothes with your permission in private with an independent witness.

Only the police or customs and excise officials are empowered to search you without agreement – if a door supervisor searches inside your clothes or performs a strip search without your permission they may be charged with assault.

Inside the Club:

Some clubs are reknowned for having a ‘blind-eye’ approach to soft drug taking. Don’t abuse this privilege – skin up somewhere discreet and don’t flaunt it around – it’ll only get the club closed otherwise. Other clubs will hound you out like you’re a mass murderer, so check it out first. Remember, even if you’re only smoking a spliff it is illegal and you might face being arrested as well as being thrown out of the club.

Commercial Clubs:

What you’ll find inside varies considerably, depending on the clubs and the ruthlessness of the owners. Some commercial clubs will do everything they can to extract as much money from the punters as possible, while others treat clubbers with respect.

If you don’t find all the below provided we’d suggest you take your custom elsewhere or complain to the club and relevant authorities (details below):

Cheap bottled water available at the bar with free unrestricted access to cold drinking. Some clubs have been known to charge up to £3 for a bottle of water while turning the cold water taps off, or reducing them to a warm trickle. Avoid them and report them – they are endangering people’s lives.

Adequate ventilation and a chill-out space. Some clubs have been known to turn off the air conditioning to boost drinks sales, or to overcrowd the dancefloors. Avoid.

Provide a competent first aider on the premises. If something goes wrong you want to feel that there is help at hand.

Cheap, secure cloakrooms. It’s important to be able to have somewhere safe to keep clothes while you dance. Watch out for clubs that charge exorbitant amounts or keep you queuing all night.

Trained, registered door and security staff, preferably wearing name tags. Expect to be treated with civility and friendliness and to see a notice displaying the club’s searching and complaints policy.


If you feel you have been ill-treated at a club, try to take down all the details as soon as possible, noting down the names/numbers/description of the people involved and the time of the incident.

If you are unhappy with a search, contact Release who will complain on your behalf.

If the club is failing to provide free water, is overcrowded or has insufficient safety and first aid facilities, complain to the management or get in touch with your local council’s Environmental Health Department. Also write in to the club/DJ magazines, post up on the internet and tell your friends – if these clubs are treating people badly it’s important to get the word out.

Drugs and Clubs

If you’re intending to take drugs when you’re out clubbing, try and learn as much as possible about the drugs and the possible risks. If you’re trying out a new drug, it’s best to do it a club where you feel safe and secure and have friends around. Drugs can effect you differently depending on your physical and mental state.

Try and wear cool clothes for dancing but have some warm clothes for the chilling out and the journey home later. Try and eat before you go out as the food will give you energy for dancing and help line the stomach.

Tell your friends what drugs you’re taking and look out for each other – and remember to keep drinking at least a pint of non-alcoholic fluid when you’re dancing.

Try not to buy drugs from strangers in clubs – not only is there a great chance you’ll get ripped off, but it could be dodgy gear or stuff that’s a lot stronger than you’re used to.

Be careful if you’re mixing your drugs – there’s no way to predict how they’ll react together and some combinations can be unexpectedly powerful. It’s best to stick with one drug and not mix’n’match – and that includes alcohol. If you do take more than one drug, remember that the effects are cumulative and can mount up over the hours.

If you’re already on prescribed drugs be careful – some drugs may react strongly with each other.

Some drugs can send you in a shag frenzy, increasing your chances of catching HIV and other sexual transmitted diseased. Use a condom! If you’re pregnant, some drugs may have unexpected side-effects and possibly damage your child.

If you’re injecting, never inject alone.

Leave the motor at home. Some drugs will still be kicking in hours after you’ve taken them and your judgement could be at risk. Also bear in mind that the police have recently been targeting people leaving rave clubs.

London Dance Safety produce an excellent free booklet for ravers and are organising awareness events. Call 0207 394 5678 for details.

Related links:

Safer Clubbing Guide – Home Office Guide, 7th March 2002


Safety on the dancefloor – BBC report, Mar 2002


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