Desperate Punters Are Using Tinder And Snapchat To Score Drugs At Music Festivals

Festival attendees were trying to score in more ways than one.

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Last weekend around 30,000 festival-goers packed into a relatively small bit of parkland, cut off from the rest of the world, trapped together for up to five days. For many, it’s the prime opportunity to whip out Tinder and swipe like crazy. But it turns out finding love isn’t the only reason Tinder gets a workout at festivals.

Given the significant police and drug dog presence at large events in Australia, the pressure is on to come up with creative and unique ways to find, solicit and sell drugs without getting busted. A number of people who attended Splendour in the Grass last week have told Junkee that Tinder, Grindr and even Snapchat are now regularly being used to facilitate the flow of drugs at music festivals around the country.

One regular festival-goer said: “About 25 percent of the groups that I came across [at Splendour] on Tinder were made up of people looking for drugs.” Tinder groups are generally used to help find and organise group dates, but at music festivals plenty of people use that aspect of the app’s functionality to advertise their desire to get high. In a rather unsubtle attempt to score a fix, many Tinder groups simply describe themselves as “Drugs” or “We want drugs” according to punters we spoke to, who wanted to remain anonymous.

“There were heaps of people who were just looking for drugs on Tinder,” another attendee told Junkee. “I wasn’t looking for any personally, I already had everything I needed but I did get asked by a few people. One girl I matched with about two hours into the festival asked me for drugs and when I said no she unmatched me straight away.”

Brutal stuff.

Someone who attended Splendour and took drugs themselves said most of the people who contacted them on Tinder were looking to buy drugs. Instead of dealing they offered to just hang out and get high together. “I was pretty surprised how blatant people were being about it,” they said.

While most of the Tinder groups were blatant in terms of what they were looking for, others used cryptic code words to mask their needs. One group called themselves “Looking for some marrow”, which is apparently a well-known code word for cannabis (I feel so old and out of touch now).

It’s not the first time people have turned to social media and dating apps to try and score drugs, but most of the attendees Junkee spoke too were surprised at how common it had become at music festivals in Australia. One person who accessed drugs the old fashioned way told Junkee: “It’s now fairly standard festival behaviour to get creative about sourcing and distributing your drugs.”

“In my experience I’ve found people who deal like Snapchat anyway,” they said. ” The idea is there are no incriminating messages on the phone if it’s seized. There were two separate dealers I ran into who added me on Snapchat.”

Unlike Tinder, which is linked to a user’s Facebook account, Grindr allows people to come up with their own username — a function that is liberally used to aid the dissemination of drugs at festivals.

“There was a lot of selling and dealing going on through Grindr,” another attendee said. “They’d have ‘Caps for Splendour’ or something as their name and then prices or details in their bio.”

Junkee (and presumably Splendour) doesn’t condone the practices described in this article, but they do highlight how the tactics used by police to try and stamp out drug use are outdated, ineffective and approach the issue from the wrong perspective. The constantly evolving use of social media and dating apps to try and score drugs shows how futile attempts to stop drug use at music festivals are.

Is it time to accept it’s always going to happen and get on board with harm minimisation approaches?

Image: Jack Toohey