My summer of love: ‘Under the spell of ecstasy, strangers went straight to limitless intimacy’

We danced in water features, stupefied with drugs. And while my big crush was unrequited, the whole season was irresistible fun

A summer of love is predicted when – if – we emerge from the Babylonian captivity of lockdown in a frenzy of courting. It will be the third summer of love in recent years. The first occurred, in a cloud of hashish and patchouli, around San Francisco in 1967. I was five and living on the outskirts of Kettering, untouched by those events, although I have heard it said the Skew Bridge Ski Club could get quite racy.

The second summer of love I can talk about because I was in it. It was 1990, I was 28, and recently retired from pop music. It arrived on the back of a new party drug, ecstasy. I had come across E – more properly MDMA – in the United States, in the clubs of the east and west coasts, where enterprising leisure professionals realised that its effect on the neurotransmitters responsible for the experience of pleasure could make every venue a Xanadu of irresistible fun.

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