When it comes to the most Brooklyn things in Brooklyn, nothing comes close to Ketamine: The Musical. A war anesthetic turned "horse pill," Ketamine has secured its spot on the nightlife scene as a recreational drug thanks to its dissociative, immobilizing effects. Why anyone would want to fall down a K-hole during a rave is still beyond me (I prefer Molly), but with a sold out three-night run at Bushwick's notorious den of debauchery, House of Yes, it seems plenty of hipsters are down with the Special K. Since the extent of my drug knowledge reaches whatever I can find on the Pill Identifier section of Drugs.com, I enlisted the company of my BFF who is also a professional pharmacist to guide me through the ketamine experience (or lack thereof).
Let's get this out of the way first, neither I nor my companion were actually on Ketamine during this performance - but I can't say for sure that none of my fellow audience members were. While I was afraid the drinks might have been spiked, we were spared any intake of actual drugs, though the entrance was decorated with cacao-filled plates cut into lines and littered with straws. The first pharmacist quote of the night: "Ketamine isn't really brown and powdery, it's more like a white-yellow crystal consistency." Duly noted. Since, obviously, we were on the subject, I asked him whether Ketamine was ever used as a human med anymore; "[Mostly] in cases of extreme epilepsy, though it is being researched to treat depression." If a K trip is anything like this show, I could see why. Shit is FUN.
If I had to sum it up in a sentence, Ketamine: The Musical is like Cirque du Soleil with a gnarly nosebleed. Indeed, it was less a musical than it was a trippy, beautiful, drug-fueled circus act. Separated into three parts (lord knows we all needed those cigarette breaks desperately), the performance began with a Sia-wigged dancer tearing open a giant bag of "Ketamine" atop the bar, flying through the air, and finally plucking an "audience member" to share some fairy dust with. Of course, her choice was not random - he turned out to be our fantastic star, whose K-hole we followed through moments of gravity-defying highs, hallucinations of twerking cupcakes, and sensual interactions in the bathtub. A literal bathtub, that at one point was occupied by two actually random audience members who were made to strip down and enjoy the show in some nice warm water.
Like any good experimental performance piece, there were lots of bodies on bodies, lots of skin and nude pantyhose, and lots of somber singing that could make your last comedown seem almost religious. Between all that, though, were plenty of highs and lots of laughs. An energetic emcee dressed in footie pajamas read weird emails, rapped, recalled some official medical terms (all of which were nodded to by my accompanying drug doctor), and created a new acronym we should all live by: “YLALO," as in You Live At Least Once. Man.
Opening night ended with a standing ovation turned spontaneous dance party (as they do) and as we walked out past a gaggle of go-go dancers (apparently Wednesdays are open pole nights at House of Yes), I asked my pharmacist friend whether all of this was scientifically plausible. Deadpan, he responded, "Ketamine: side effects include knife-wielding clowns, disembodied tongues, and sudden well-choreographed moments of 'Thriller.'" Snort it at your own risk, people.