Dede Goldsmith was asleep in a Kentucky hotel room, on the last night of a three-week trip with her husband, when her phone rang. It was 2:15 a.m. “I’m really sorry, Mrs. Goldsmith,” a voice on the other end said. “Shelley has been taken to the hospital.”
Shelley was her 19-year-old daughter. A student at the University of Virginia, she had taken a trip with her friends to see Dada Life, a Swedish electro-house duo, at a Washington, DC, club. At the concert, Shelley wasn’t feeling well. She went to the bar for water. “Call 911,” she said, before she collapsed.
“Her friend kept saying ‘sorry,’ like she was already gone,” Goldsmith said later of the phone call. The friend told her that Shelley had taken Molly that night.
“Who’s Molly?” Goldsmith asked.
Earlier that evening, August 30, 2013, Shelley had boarded a rented party bus, complete with couches and booming electronic dance music, to make the 120-mile trip from Charlottesville, Virginia, to the concert. Thirty-four University of Virginia students were on board. Almost everyone took a hit of Molly.
Molly is a powdered psychoactive that is supposed to be the purest, uncut form of the drug MDMA, often called ecstasy when it is in pill form. The high brings on a sense of euphoria and empathy. It stimulates the senses in a way that complements the immersive spectacle of an electronic dance music show.
“My heart says: if you’re gonna try Molly, you better make sure you know what you’re taking”“Essentially everyone on that bus was on the drug,” said Kate, one of the students on the bus. (“Kate” asked not to be identified by name.) “We got to the concert and everyone was having an amazing time.”
Shelley had taken some Molly on the bus, and then another hit at the club. When she collapsed, most of her friends assumed she had passed out from dehydration. They headed back home on the bus thinking she would be fine. Her boyfriend and a close friend stayed back, going with Shelley by ambulance to Providence Hospital, where doctors attempted to revive her.