Partygoers preferred to pop pills than pay for pilsners at a Sydney rave where one man died and at least 20 others overdosed on drugs.
One reveller said it was cheaper to buy drugs than pay for alcohol at the Defqon. 1 music festival, which drew more than 18,000 dance fans to the Sydney International Regatta Centre near Penrith on Saturday.
An artist manager who attended the event said people were ''downing'' drugs at the start of the festival to avoid arrest.
''Punters who intend to bring a few pills with them in case they feel like taking them across the course of the day are now forced to down everything at once in order to avoid possible arrest,'' she said. ''This is costing young people's lives.''
She believes she saw the 23-year-old Victorian man who later died from a suspected overdose at Nepean Hospital.
''He appeared to be conscious but deathly white and perspiring profusely,'' she said. ''So tragic to hear he has passed away.''
Attendee Adam Watson, 22, was not shocked when he learnt there had been 84 drug-related arrests and a death.
''It doesn't surprise me at all. People were out of control in there,'' Watson said.
''The festival gets worse and worse every year. Honestly, I put it [drug-taking] down to the amount it costs to drink inside of festivals. I think that's a massive factor for some people.''
Police said there was nothing more they could have done to prevent people taking illicit substances despite the presence of more than 100 officers. Sniffer dogs and officers stopped and searched 430 people.
Detective Inspector Grant Healy, of Penrith police, said the drugs reportedly included ''magic mushrooms, cannabis, amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, what people were reporting to be ecstasy [and] some GHB''.
''People are quite inventive on how they defeat police and security methods so it doesn't really matter [what we do],'' Inspector Healy said on Sunday.He said police believed the deceased man had driven from Victoria to attend the festival with friends.
Paramedics took him to Nepean Hospital, where he suffered several cardiac arrests and was pronounced dead about 10.30pm. A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Inspector Healy said people who took pills were playing a lottery with their lives.
''The problem is you don't know what's in the pill,'' he said. ''If you think you are buying a particular pill, there is no quality control and you are getting whatever the cook makes.
''The music festivals themselves aren't a problem. The problem is adults making poor choices about their lifestyles.''
He said Defqon.1 organisers had employed a private firm to carry out first aid with the help of six Ambulance Service of NSW paramedics.
Defqon.1 Festival is held in the Netherlands and Australia and caters for hardcore techno, jumpstyle and hard trance fans. This year, it attracted 130 international and Australian acts including Frontliner, Psyko Punkz, Gunz For Hire, Toneshifterz, Connected and Dillytek.
- Sydney Morning Herald