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We spoke to an ecstasy dealer from the acid house era

Back when pills were pills

  • Interview: Bill Brewster | Photo: Rex Features
  • 8 May 2018

Bill Brewster tracks down one of the original pill dealers of the acid house boom – and gets the good stuff.

When did you first get into ecstasy?

I first took E in 1987, so I was one of the first people selling it in London. I started buying it in small amounts from a guy in South London. The first batch I bought, he sold me 10 and they were £25 each and at that time they were all capsules. There were no tablets at all. They were little yellow capsules, 125mg. You opened them up and the stuff inside looked like brown sugar. I’d tried just about everything there was in the 80s, so ecstasy was like a breath of fresh air. it just felt so clean and natural. I remember not actually believing that it was even a drug.

How did you sell it?

I used to go to Shoom and a bag of 200 would be gone in half an hour. I’d just stand there with the bag in my hand, stuffing the cash in my pocket and at the end of it when I’d sold all of them I used to go out to my car with my pockets wedged with cash, lift up the carpet, spread the cash out with my hands and put the carpet back down. I’d have three grand in cash spread out under my carpet! By the end of that year I had shoeboxes full of cash in my flat. It just flew.

Did ecstasy become more available as it got more popular?

I went out to Ibiza in around June 1988, and this kid just pulled up next to me on a little motor scooter in the back streets of San An. I recognised him from London and Ibiza, and he said, “You’ve been getting Es off so-and-so haven’t you?” I said, “Yeah”. He said, “Well he gets them off me. I can do them for £9 each.” I said “OK, yeah, please.” Then the scale of it shot up. When Spectrum started on Monday nights it was just crazy. It was like a license to print money.

Where were you going at this point?

I was out nearly every night. We used to go to Spectrum on Mondays, Delirium on Tuesdays, we’d drive up to The Haçienda on Wednesdays and Fridays, Thursday was The Future and then Saturday was Shoom. I was just out doing E and knocking them out. It was beautiful. We didn’t really drink, we didn’t really do anything apart from smoke a bit of puff and take E.

Did [the market] get bigger quickly as 1988 went on?

It spread like wildfire. Once people realised how good it was, that was it. I turned so many people onto it. People I knew who’d been selling speed and acid through the 80s started coming up to me and saying, “Can we get 100 of those?” Spring 1988, that was a big turning point in London.

Did the police have any idea what was happening?

They didn’t have a clue what was going on to start with. The police came in to Shoom one night when I was in there. I was standing at the bar with a big bag of pills in one pocket, a big wedge of cash in the other pocket. It was weird; I looked at them and thought they were in fancy dress… and started talking to them. They walked around in there with completely fazed looks on their faces, just wandered around and then left. The police had absolutely no fucking idea what was going on.

Do you have any regrets?

I don’t really regret any of it. 1988 was probably the best year of my life and 1989 and 1990 were brilliant too. Those three years were the prime years of it all. It totally changed society and it changed clubland. It wasn’t through greed or trying to make money, it was just so fucking brilliant, and we were all just so innocent. In all honesty, I just wanted to turn people on to ecstasy because it was so good.

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