“It won’t last long, I promise you, we’ll be back to the music soon”, assures the DJ at the microphone.
For about twenty minutes, the police identify the identities, empty the pockets and conduct pat-downs. The approximately 80 customers present in the establishment in the city center comply with good grace to the surprise control operation carried out, a little after one o’clock in the morning, on the night of Friday to Saturday.
“It’s weird to see a club all on, all the lights on, you feel like you’re in a restaurant,” says Bastien, a customer in his fifties.
“Hello atmosphere!” grumbles the manager of T Dansant, Jérôme Bonnefoy. “It’s not as if we hadn’t already had two rotten years,” he quips, alluding to the long parenthesis of the health crisis.
But for Dylan, a young blonde with a crew cut, “it’s normal because of all that is going on with the bites”.
The operation aims to “show that the police and the prosecution are on the ground and particularly vigilant” in the face of the mysterious phenomenon which has affected the nocturnal and festive world in France for several months, explains the public prosecutor of Roanne, Abdelkrim Grini, present during the control of the T Dansant.
The unexplained wave of bites has affected nightclubs, bars and festivals across the country in recent months, with complaints filed from Lille to Béziers and from Lorient to Grenoble, via Lyon, Besançon or Valence.
A total of 250 people came forward to the police saying they had been bitten and “only one presented a positive GHB serology”, according to a national report obtained by AFP from a police source in Paris.
Victims evoke a stinging sensation, sometimes painful, sometimes accompanied by nausea, dizziness, chills or even convulsion. Others say they “felt nothing”, like this 18-year-old high school student who filed a complaint after being bitten on April 22 at the T Dansant where she was celebrating a birthday with friends.
– Hematoma –
“I was accompanying a friend to the toilet (….) when a boy touched my buttock,” the young girl, who prefers to remain anonymous, told AFP. She discovered on returning home “a large hematoma with a sting with a red dot in the center on the right buttock”.
She immediately went to the hospital, which gave her preventive anti-HIV and anti-hepatic treatments. A judicial investigation has been opened for “premeditated violence and premeditated administration of a harmful substance”, an offense punishable by three years in prison. And the high school student decided not to go back to the nightclub: “I erased the word from my head, I don’t think I’ll go back. We’re much better at parties with friends we know”.
Dylan, he comes to the T Dansant, even if “we think about it a little deep down in the unconscious”. In the Loire, there are around twenty complaints, four nightclubs out of the thirty in the department are concerned, according to figures from the prefecture and the Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH).
Nightclub owners are trying to organize themselves, checking the contents of customers’ bags and pockets or reinforcing video surveillance while the authorities mobilize to provide answers while worrying about the risk of psychosis. The Loire prefecture thus organized a coordination meeting on Friday with representatives of the police, the gendarmerie and the night sector.
For the prosecutor of Roanne, it is important to be “in the field of prevention by attracting the attention of young people”, letting them know “that they must be vigilant, that they must be careful because unfortunately , this phenomenon of wild bites does not fade”.
For the rest, the operation at T Dansant did not reveal any suspect syringes or needles, the analyzes of a vial found under a bench seat showed that they were poppers.