Environmental Influences on Risk Taking among Hong Kong Young Dance Partygoers

Article excerpt

Attending rave parties or discos (hereafter referred to as "the dance party") has appeared to be a risk factor for drug abuse and other risky behavior by young people (Forsyth & Barnard, 1997). Attendance seems to expose them to influences of certain music and dancing, although they can also have recreational functions (Christenson & Roberts, 1998). While not all genres of music are problematic, those of heavy metal (Singer & Levine 1993), rap (Wingood et al., 2003), and rock (Benjamin, 1999; Kalof, 1999) are particularly notorious for inducing risk in young listeners. It is no surprise that, starting from the onset of the dance party in the late 1980s, it has had a close relationship with the abuse of ecstasy (an illicit psychotropic drug) among partygoers. It has been theorized that engagement in a dance party can produce a trance-like state that stimulates one to take risks (Rietveld, 2004). However, since this view is not based on empirical investigation, research, such as the present study, is necessary to determine if and how the environmental factors of the dance party engender risks for young partygoers.

Risks, in terms of the likelihood of drug abuse, coitus, unprotected coitus, fighting, and high-speed driving, are the criterion variables of the study. Factors related to the dance party include the location (Hong Kong and Mainland China), fees, number of partners, dancers, police inspection, drug supply, drug sales, injuries, coitus, fighting, drug abuse, and environmental factors. The environmental factors are the availability of first aid, fire extinguishing, and drinking water facilities, light and audio effects, ventilation, drug circulation, underage admission, sex partners, fighting, and low-price beer.

Hypothesized Impacts of Factors Related to the Dance Party

A dance party in Mainland China is likely to entail more risk than one in Hong Kong for young partygoers from Hong Kong. Evidence has shown that young people who cross the border from Hong Kong to the mainland are particularly at risk for drug abuse (Lau, 2004). One major contributing factor is the lower price of illicit drugs. Since living standards on the mainland are lower than those in Hong Kong, drugs are cheaper on the mainland. (Becker, 1993; Farrington, 1996). In addition, there is the absence of control from significant others (Bruinsma, 1992; Crutchfield & Pitchford, 1997).

The higher the fee for attending a dance party, the higher the likelihood of risky behavior because there is likely to be more freedom and privacy for partygoers. Thus the partygoer is willing to pay a higher fee in the expectation of getting more in return (Griffiths, 1995).

When the number of persons who attend a dance party together is greater, the likelihood of involvement in risk taking is also greater due to peer influence (Tremblay et al., 2003). Involvement in risky behavior within a crowd is likely to be a result of the depersonalization and diffusion of responsibility that takes place (Akers, 1998). Further, it is cost-effective to provide drugs and thus seduce partygoers to take risks, such as gang fighting (Sato, 1988; Tomison, 2000).

Deterrence from police inspection supposedly serves to reduce partygoers' risk (Teevan & Dryburgh, 2000; van Aswegen, 2000). However, the availability of illicit drugs, either free-of-charge or at a lower price, is likely to facilitate risk taking (Golub & Johnson, 2002; Pentz & Li, 2002). Drugs are also available as prizes. Furthering the use is that selling illicit drugs can be a major source of income for risk-takers (Hagan & McCarthy 1997). The hallucinogenic or narcotic effect of drug use is also likely to be responsible for many other forms of risk taking (Bowman, 1998). Moreover, the partygoers are likely targets for induction into drug use (Okwunnabua & Duryea, 1998; Skiba et al., 2004).

Injury at the dance party is likely to result from risk taking in the partygoer. …