Theatre director Robert Brunet, said the venue does from 12 to 15 raves a year and he treats them like any other concert. “We use the same sound and professional lighting,” he said. “We sell tickets through Ticketmaster; we handle it just like any rock concert.”

“These kids are coming here for a performer. They’re coming to see an artist. People think that they come here to do Ecstacy and dance and that’s it.”

Brunet said that it’s unfortunate, but it’s not unusual for a certain percentage of people end up in the hospital after any concert in New Orleans. He maintained that his venue does everything it can to avoid those problems.

In addition to paramedics on site, “we have a large security staff – anywhere from 30 to 55 people that work at any large event – and we search people that come through the door. We search all backpacks and bags as a condition of entry,” Brunet said. “We have guys that bust people regularly and we have them arrested for the use of drugs or trying to sell drugs. We take precautionary measures to stop illegal activity from happening in my building.”

He said the venue has never been sued because someone overdosed on drugs. “It would be impossible for anyone to make a case that we condone or allow the use of drugs at the State Palace.”

Even so, Brunet said medical personnel and the media keep a dark cloud looming over his raves.

While doctors have told the press that about a half-dozen people wind up in the ER every time there’s a rave, Brunet said the average is more like one and a half, adding that not all hospitalizations are drug related.

He said in the case of the DEA raid, reporters got access to information that he couldn’t obtain.

“The DEA made [the press] aware that they were coming in to serve this warrant…. The footage on TV was the bus driving up to the theatre and the DEA agents getting off. So they knew before I did,” Brunet said.

Plus, the feds would not tell Brunet what they were looking for but somehow, the press knew. “The only way that [the press] would know [the feds were looking for] documents and drug paraphernalia is someone from the DEA had told them that.”

The whole situation has Brunet considering either changing the way he presents raves to appease the feds or doing away with them altogether. At press time, Brunet’s attorney was trying to contact the DEA agent in charge of the case to find out what would satisfy authorities.

“‘What do you want us to do?'” Brunet asked. “‘If we started this thing at 7 p.m. and ended it at 2 a.m., would that be acceptable? If we made it 21 and over, would that be acceptable?’ And if those things are acceptable, then so be it. That will be the future.”

Since the State Palace presents all types of music, Brunet feels it would be censorship to avoid raves. “That’s our First Amendment right isn’t it?” he asked.

However, he said, “After this weekend … I found it hard to believe when I was standing in my theatre [during the raid] that I was actually in the United States. I thought for sure that I was transported to Nazi Germany. And that was the way [the DEA agents] treated everyone.”

“I mean, there was no innocence till proven guilty. It was at this point, I am guilty till proven innocent.”

Brunet said the rave investigation is not affecting his business yet. However, he was thinking twice about the Moonshine Over America rave date scheduled at the State Palace October 7.