The foam starts flying just after 9:45 pm.

It falls from two special-rigged showers — each about the shape and size of a voting booth — that hover above the crowd of dancing teens and twentysomethings on the floor of the Dunkin Donuts Center. White, soapy suds are also shot out of trash-can-sized cannons on either side of the stage — the same stage from which fog sprays, multi-colored lasers swirl, chest-thumping electronic music booms, and a DJ screams, “Are you ready for fucking foam?. . . Who’s ready for fucking foam?” As a protective measure, the enormous electronic scoreboard that hangs from the Dunk’s ceiling has been covered in protective plastic sheathing. So, too, have the first few rows of seats that ring the arena’s floor. The attendees aren’t wearing much: spandex shorts and tank tops and the occasional tutu for the ladies; T-shirts (or no shirts) and mesh shorts or jeans for the guys. When the foam begins to fly, the crowd screams in raucous gratitude. The Barstool Blackout Tour Presents “F*ckin’ Foam” party has officially begun.

But it isn’t just the folks on the dance floor who have been waiting for this moment. Seemingly everyone else in the state has been waiting, too.

Two days ago, Providence Police issued a public service announcement warning that “Blackout” attendees’ bags would be searched before entering the building, that they would be turned away if they “appear to be impaired” upon arrival, and that there is “no safe dose of” the powder or crystal form of the drug MDMA, known as “Molly,” that has become “increasingly popular at events such as the ‘Barstool Blackout Tour.’ ”

The next day, The Providence Journal offered an ominously headlined article, “Concerned about potentially lethal substances at ‘Foam Party,’ Dunkin’ Donuts Center, police take proactive stance.” A day after that, in the hours leading up to the Friday night show, Boston’s barstoolsports.com — the sports-and-chicks blog that owns and organizes the Blackout tour — posted a letter that a Salve Regina University dean reportedly sent to students.

“This event is held at other venues around the country, and has resulted in a number of injuries and alcohol/other drug overdoses which required hospitalization,” it said. “If you are planning on attending this event, I urge you to use extreme caution, and would ask you to even consider not attending, given the aforementioned number of injuries and other problems associated with these events.” On barstoolsports.com, the email was posted next to a bullet-point response from the site’s founder, David Portnoy (“El Presidente,” to Barstool regulars), that included, “#4 — Do you think college kids are safer in a controlled environment on a Friday night or partying in their dorms?” and “#6 — Have you ever had a real job? Being a school administrator certainly doesn’t count.”

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