We spoke to the NOS dealers outside XOYO

They think we’re ‘idiots’ with ‘too much money’

The stroll down Cowper Street towards the reddish glow of XOYO is characterised by the channel of laughing gas vendors, decorating the hallowed path to offer you a cheeky balloon.

The legal selling of N20 is coming to an end with the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which successfully illegalised the sale of legal highs and is set to put many of these “street entrepreneurs” (their words), out of a job.

I approached a few dodgy dealers at 3am last Tuesday, when most clubs close for the night and there’s the highest concentration of people selling balloons to clubbers on their way home. One dealer told me he’d tried it before, but isn’t the biggest fan.

He said: “I’ve tried it a few times but I don’t really see the attraction. I can understand why people take cocaine and ecstasy – the effects last a lot longer and that makes it worth the money. I sell these balloons for up to £5, but they’re a complete waste of money because the effects don’t last long enough.”


The drug is inhaled and lasts from 30 seconds to a minute, stimulating dopamine receptors in the brain and creating an intense euphoric feeling, sound distortions and hallucinations.

With the potential for police intervention, this does mean the sight of balloon-sucking clubbers will become a rare sight, as the dealers face an ever-precarious future. Most were upset about the change in the law but insisted “if people want to buy it, we’re going to sell it”.

Those who were willing to buy balloons were, in this one dealer’s opinion, “idiots”. He added: “They’ve got too much money to spend, and I’m happy to take it off them.”

I asked him briefly what he thought of the future for NOS, in light of the proposed new law. He shrugged his shoulders. The illegality of other drugs didn’t deter dealers from selling them, it would just mean that balloon sellers would have to “be careful”. On the plus side, he  saw it as an opportunity to bump up the price he charged for balloons, as “drunken idiots” would find it harder to get hold of.

Others seemed to echo his sentiments as they murmured around us, and my new dealer-buddy popped off to get back to work as I headed for the bus, certainly not with a balloon.