Next week I will be attending the Club Health 2004 Conference which will be held in Melbourne. This will be the first time the conference is being held outside of Europe, with the previous conferences being held in Amsterdam and Rimini, Italy.

It is particularly relevant that the conference is being hosted by Melbourne as the club scene there has been the focus of a great deal of media attention over the past couple of months. The highly publicised GHB overdoses at a large dance event and a high profile drink-spiking case have fuelled the media’s interest in all issues around nightlife health.

Bars, nightclubs and the other nightlife venues are now a central element in the recreation and enjoyment of millions of people throughout the world. Thriving night-time economies continue to help regenerate cities bringing additional investment, employment and tourism while providing individuals with a place to socialise and an opportunity to unwind. However, nightlife can also lead to a range of health and social issues including alcohol, tobacco and drug use, violence and criminal activity, risky sexual behaviour and environmental and safety issues. Tackling such issues involves not only a wide range of services protecting and promoting health at night, but also organisations and individuals involved in managing and regulating nightlife environments and those who simply utilise the night-time environment for pleasure.

Club Health 2004 offers a unique opportunity for individuals from around the world with interests in nightlife to discuss and develop strategies, interventions and research relating to health in the night-time environment. The conference will be attended by delegates from a wide range of areas including substance use, sexual health, public health, legislation and policing, transport and environmental health. As well as researchers, health practitioners and local authority representatives, the conference actively seeks to involve nightclub owners, representatives from the music and travel industry and people who simply use nightlife for fun.

The really sad thing about the conference is the lack of support it has received from the clubs and promoters across Victoria. One would think that with all the adverse publicity the scene has received over the past few months they would be rushing to be involved. Surprisingly, there are currently only two clubs involved with the conference and both of those are Sydney-based. Chris Curtis from Arq has been invited to speak on how Arq, together with a number of other community groups and the police, have attempted to deal with a range of issues and in the process foster a culture of responsible clubbing. The medical team from Home, Med Event, will also be giving a paper on providing interventions at dance parties and nightclubs.

It should be a great conference and in the next couple of weeks I hope to provide some of the highlights of the proceedings in this column.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug, and no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?

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