Cover image for Altered state : the story of ecstasy culture and Acid House
Altered state : the story of ecstasy culture and Acid House
Collin, Matthew.
Personal Author:
[Updated second edition].
Publication Information:
London ; [New York, NY] : Serpent's Tail, 1998.

Physical Description:
329 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HN383.5 .C65 1997C Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



From its first publication in 1997, Altered State established itself as the definitive text on dance culture. This second edition includes accounts of the election campaign of Tony Blair which used an Ecstasy anthem as its musical theme, and the trial and acquittal of a 19-year-old for supplying the drug that killed Leah Betts, and her links to East End gangsters. Drawing on a wealth of background research and original interviews with key figures on both sides of the law, Altered State 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 youth movement of the century.

Author Notes

Matthew Collin has worked as a magazine editor, a foreign correspondent, a broadcast journalist and a features writer. He has been the editor of the Big Issue, the Time Out website and i-D magazine, and has worked in news for the BBC World Service. He has also written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines, including the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Observer, Independent, Moscow Times, Face and Mojo. His previous books, This is Serbia Calling and Altered State, were also published by Serpent's Tail.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The clubs, deejays and bands mentioned in Altered State may be of little significance to even the most meticulous music listener, but that's the idea. In America, anyway, no musical subculture has ever maintained its underground profile as long as acid house, a synthesizer-based dance music characterized by electronic bleeps and squelchy runs. Collin pursues the history of house music from computerized disco music in the '70s to Chicago deejays to London to the small Mediterranean island of Ibiza. Initially, Britain's club kids considered Ecstasy culture, with its combination of house music and drugs, an effortless escape from Thatcher-era conservatism. Ecstasy's cushy, hallucinogenic release offered a customized accompaniment to the bracing electronic beats emanating from a quickly dying New Romantic music scene. The bands New Order and Happy Mondays found small commercial followings, but it was deejays schooled in American disco and cut-and-paste production that would eventually rule house music. Collin (The Face; Wired) goes on to acknowledge the British scene's debt to tiny American record labels such as Chicago's Trax. If his prose occasionally slinks into the hyperbole for which British pop journalists are infamous, Collin's insider knowledge reveals a genuine understanding of all the scene's benevolent affectations. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Journalists Collin and Godfrey have written a fascinating, compelling account of youth culture in conservative Britain during the last decade. They begin with a brief history of the dual elements at the center of the culture: the spacy version of disco known as acid house and the drug Ecstasy. After setting the stage, they describe the migration of unemployed British youths to the island of Ibiza off Spain, where the culture began, and the transplanting of the Ibiza experience to British clubs. Chronicling the spread of acid house and Ecstasy through large parties called raves, the authors explain the movement as a reaction of disillusioned, lower-class youths against a conservative British mainstream. Collin and Godfrey examine the downfall of the drug-based counterculture owing to gang-police violence and Ecstasy-induced deaths and discuss the mainstream commercialization of the hedonistic dance culture into a £1.8 ($2.8) billion industry. This well-written social history will become a standard for those wanting to understand British youth culture and music.‘David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.