MULTICOLORED LASER LIGHTS search the darkness, picking out bodies crowded into the tight, hot space of Rise. Located in the Theatre District, the city’s only after-hours dance club is packed at 3 a.m., full of people swaying to a pounding bass line, music you can feel in your chest. Most are in their late teens or 20s, and many are clearly rolling — they’re under the influence of a drug called MDMA, sometimes called Molly, that causes a flood, or “cascade,” of serotonin and other neurotransmitters to the brain.
The effect, for most users, is reduced anxiety, an increased feeling of connection to others, and heightened sensations — sight, hearing, touch — making everything feel good. Downstairs, a dozen clubgoers lounge on couches under a pair of disco balls. A shirtless guy with flowy pants is wearing gloves with glowing, colored tips, spinning them repetitively in front of a woman wearing sunglasses while another guy gives her a back rub.