Ash is a dietary therapist who used to go to raves and clubs and find that
she was helping people who were feeling sick or paranoid, so she thought
"Why not get paid for it?" Dance Ambulance is the result. The Parliament
Club, which opened in Manchester in autumn 1992, introduced new safety
guidelines from the outset - in line with a harm-reduction policy adopted
by Manchester City Council - which required some security staff to have
first aid training. Ash offered her services and now works at the club
every Saturday night. She has recently applied to public and private
backers for funding, and has received some encouraging responses. She also
hopes to get funding from the Seized Assets Fund - money from seized assets
of drug dealers. Ash uses a range of alternative therapies including
homeopathic remedies, "polarity therapy" and "flower essence therapy".
Various people have expressed interested in joining Dance Ambulance,
including therapists, community drug workers and counsellors.
The work consists mainly of helping women in the toilets (far more women
than men appear to suffer side-effects at raves). Many are paranoid or
sick. Ash makes sure that sufferers have their friends with them and gives
them homeopathic or flower remedies until they feel better or decide to go
home. Ash joins in the dancing herself, but keeps an eye out for people
needing help. Sometimes she sees girls "stuck in the corners" and asks
what's wrong. A typical answer is: "Just fucked" - they feel rotten,
perhaps paranoid, and can't move.
Ash believes that most problems come from being sold substitutes, including
drug cocktails, instead of MDMA.
Ash is trying to recruit a number of helpers, who would be identified by
their T shirts and to set up a permanent office for Dance Ambulance. All
helpers would have to take first aid courses and learn about drugs and
Lifeline, the Manchester drugs agency, has offered to help with training.