The Ecstasy is Weak Parts I and II Fear and Loathing at Spring Scream

This is a story submitted by Taika Alyosha. I personally don’t know this person and he hasn’t responded to any follow up emails so I couldn’t ascertain if this story was fiction or non-fiction. Either way, it makes for an interesting read. Here are the first 2 parts out of the 6 that were submitted.

The Extasy is Weak* Fear and Loathing at Spring Scream

By Taika Alyosha

*A Note: Verbatim quotes from the recordings taken that night are written in italics. A full transcript of the recording can be read here (insert link).

Part 1: The Arrival

It was 3 am on Friday morning and I was flying down a small Taiwanese highway on the long flat plain that stretches from the middle to the south of Taiwan on the west coast, bound on either side by ocean and mountain. I had gotten tired of being held up by the caravan of scooter riding foreigners that I’d been riding with since midnight. In the cool night air, on the empty road, I had to open it up. As the needle on the speedometer neared 110 km/hr I began to feel giddy, not from speed or the high pitched squeal of my overtaxed motorcycle engine, but in anticipation of the weekend.

Everything had been planned perfectly. My sidekick, photographer, and longtime friend, Shamus, would meet me at the show the following evening. We decided to do an article the way we always wanted to — we would go gonzo on Spring Scream. We planned to uncover the dirty drugs, sordid orgies, and naked beachside frolicking that the Taiwanese media reports like clockwork every year, tarnishing the festival’s image, and return with a full first-hand account. Our goal was engage in every single activity that the Taiwanese media had used to brand the westerners that attend the festival as drug-using free-swinging morally degenerate heathens.

This is not to say that I think that Spring Scream deserves a good reputation. I don’t. I just disagree with the slant that the Taiwanese media takes in discrediting it. I’m a strong believer that listening to mediocre rock n’ roll at twice the necessary volume, engaging in sloppy drunken sex with strangers in public places and droves of partially clothed English teachers partying for days on end in a chemical induced stupor are all great builders of character. My beef with Spring Scream was that I’d heard that the guys running it were big assholes, treating the bands who played the show (mostly for free) like cheap props, and that they were only interested in the money. I fully intended to write an indictment of these money snatching indie rock leeches and their big wanna-be Lollapaloozer concert.

“At least,” I thought as I sped down the night highway beside the black night ocean, “I’m well prepared”. Everything I brought was in one large Tupperware container strapped to the back of my motorcycle. It contained: one personal voice recorder (for taking notes in the middle of the fray) and three mini-tapes, one tent, two t-shirts, one swimsuit, one bag of toiletries, one soft plastic cooler, two bottles of hard liquor (one gin and one vodka), two 2-liter bottles of Coke, paper cups, four pills of extasy (E), two bags of ketamine (K), one bottle of ephedrine pills, one ball of hash, one pipe made from a seashell, and one vial of salvia. I hoped it would be enough to keep us both going through the weekend, but I had my doubts.

I was also concerned about the police. In recent years Spring Scream, and the associated raves and parties that sprung up in the surrounding area like mushrooms to cash in on hordes of hedonists that flood the town for three days every spring, suffered from increasing police presence and surprise raids – and anyone familiar with Asian drug laws knows that they are none too lenient. Taiwan is no exception.

Just outside of Kenting I stopped at a 7-11 to wait for my traveling companions. Just before dawn we found a campsite, set up our tents and fell asleep.

Part II: Uninspired Officers
I and my travel companions spent the following afternoon on the beach in downtown Kenting, an idyllic kilometer long stretch of sand bound on each end by volcanic cliffs. We rented a beach umbrella for NT$300 for the day. Nothing in Kenting (Kenting being the largest tourist trap in Taiwan) is cheap, but during Spring Scream the gouging is especially fierce. We discarded our shirts and lounged on the beach drinking gin and juice on ice for the rest of the afternoon.

As dusk approached I got the call I had been waiting for. Shamus had arrived at Spring Scream. He called and said,”You better get over here right away.”

“Shit. Ok, I’m on my way.”

I drove south along the coast unsure of where I was going. But, after about ten minutes, I came upon throngs of sandal and surfer shorts wearing Taiwanese milling around in a parking lot. I had arrived. I drove up to the gate where Shamus was waiting.

“We better get over here and figure this out right away man. It was a pain in the ass when I tried.” Shamus said.

“Yep, we’d better,” I replied, “because there’s no way that I’m paying $1500 for this shit.”

“Whattaya got there?” Asked Shamus pointing to the cooler. I opened it. His eye’s got big. “Holy shit dude,” he laughed. “That’s awesome.”

“Let’s go get this over with.”

By the time we got to the media desk the Spring Scream media people had apparently gotten themselves organized, and had our names on the list, so I got my pass no problem. But we still had to go through the police search.

I’d packed all of the drugs in a small tin and put it in a semi-hidden pocket in my backpack. The pocket was a sleeve really, that sat flat against my back when I wore it. It’s an uncommon place for a pocket so I was pretty sure that the notoriously indolent Taiwanese police would miss it. I placed both of my bags on the table in front of an excessively bored looking officer. He opened the cooler first. Dazzled by my mini-bar, he only gave my backpack (which I slid onto the table with the drug pocket down, and normal pockets up) a quick look. He opened it, shone his flashlight, spotted a pack of cigarettes and made me open it for him. Finding nothing suspicious, he waved us through. It was a pretty weak search. I concluded that the whole thing was just a facade to make it look like the cops were trying find illegal drugs, but, really, anybody could have walked through that search.

If that cop did catch anybody with drugs, it was probably a good thing. Anybody stupid enough to get caught with drugs by that guy needs to be stopped from damaging his or her already feeble mind any further.

About the Author

I am a cultural geographer by nature, and now a photographer, videographer, musician, webmaster and father.

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