Altered State is the definitive text on ecstasy culture, using a cast of characters to track the origins of the scene through psychedelic subcults, underground gay discos, and the Balearic paradise of Ibiza. It examines the ideologies and myths, documenting the criminal underside to the blissed-out image, and shedding light on the social history of the most spectacular youth movement of the twentieth century.

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Altered State: The Story Of Ecstasy Culture And Acid House tracks the development of ecstasy culture from its roots in the psychedelic underground and gay disco movements of America in the ’70s, through the utopian frenzy of acid house and the illegal rave spectaculars of the late ’80s, to the ultimate creation of a mass drug culture in ’90s Britain. The book pulls together the disparate threads of an extraordinary tale populated by a cast of flamboyant characters – outlaw entrepreneurs, drug dealers, nomadic techno tribes, pirate radio broadcasters, pop stars and policemen – and documents hysterical and repressive responses to the dance-drug movement from the legal, political, medical and commercial establishments.

Drawing on a wealth of background research and original interviews with key figures on both sides of the law, Altered State critically 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 British youth movement of the century.

Additional information

Weight 1 g



352 pages, soft cover


Matthew Collin


Serpent's Tail