10/20/06 Widespread drug use precedes Panic concert

Tailgaters sell balloons filled with nitrous oxide for $5 before the Widespread Panic concert Wednesday evening in the parking lot of the Indiana Memorial Union. Alcohol, marijuana and other drugs were also sold alongside T-shirts and pizza.
photo by Ronni Moo

Cocaine, acid, nitrous balloons fill Union parking lot
By Indiana Daily Student

The hiss of balloons filling with nitrous oxide was a constant sound in the Indiana Memorial Union Parking lot in the hour preceding the Widespread Panic concert Wednesday night.

As a police squad car rolled through the lot, pushers said, "Close it up," passing the message down the line. Beer vendors closed coolers full of beer and hid them in trunks, nitrous balloon fillers stuffed their nitrous tanks into black garbage bags, and dealers with far-away eyes selling "molly, nuggets and rolls" -- forms of ecstasy, marijuana and acid -- stopped wandering and mumbling about their offerings.

As Bob Marley and The Grateful Dead blared in the background, concert--goers, little kids, a few dogs and bags of drugs filled the IMU parking lot. They came from Alabama, Iowa and all over Indiana for the Widespread Panic concert -- and some of them just came to hang out in the lot.

"I'm here for the lot," senior Max Aronson said. "This is just cool to do."

When the police left the lot, yells of "No cars!" were met with whooping applause and the drugs re-emerged. Dealers offered marijuana, cocaine, acid and a form of ecstasy, in addition to beer and nitrous balloons to anyone walking around the parking lot.

A man who called himself James S. said he started his Panic journey with his girlfriend and Jack, his labrador, in Birmingham, Ala. He has seen shows in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Evansville and plans to make it all the way to Las Vegas for Panic's Halloween weekend show at the Vegoose Music Festival. James said he's enjoyed following the band, even though his dog was acting wild Wednesday night at his first concert experience. James said he has paid his way selling cold beer and blow, though the cocaine was only offered under his breath.

"I don't make a living, but I get by," he said.

The parking lot wasn't the ideal day care, but there were a number of children running around the lot, checking out the art work, dancing and hanging out with their "Spreadhead" parents.

One young, dreaded-locked child was running around with a pin, popping the nitrous balloons to cheers from some and anger from other partiers who had just dropped $5 on the


A glossy-eyed man wearing Led Zeppelin cloth pants, a patchwork shirt, a multicolored rainbow cape and a bejeweled headband strolled through the crowd offering massages with the guarantee that "there's a 95 percent chance you will not get pregnant from my back massage."

Freshman Kate Goeller was wide--eyed and taking the scene in at her first lot experience. Wearing makeup, a nice clean blue top and black pants, she stuck out in the crowd but said she was enjoying herself.

"It's really different, interesting eye candy," she said. "We just got done with a sorority dinner, so we look a little out of place."