On the heels of the ecstasy drug craze, a new fad is sweeping the London night scene. This time, though, the elixir is neither a pill, an inhaler, nor even a beverage. Rather, it is that most fashionable drug of the millennium age: money.

Followers of the new First Tuesday fad pour into selected venues at least once a month maniacally hoping to find mates with whom they can chase Internet riches. First Tuesday’s organizers, a group of 30-something former technology journalists and venture capitalists, invite a heaving mix of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to come schmooze and find their would-be partners. Admission is free, drink prices are variable.

If attendance is an indication, the results have been, well, smashing. What started as a gathering of a few friends in the basement of the Alphabet Bar in October 1998 has grown into regular soirees packed enough to make any fire warden stand alert. Roughly 1,500 cyberfanatics herded into an early October gathering, forcing First Tuesday to make a last-minute change in venue from the London Business School to a pavilion at a nearby cricket stadium.

While the crush of the crowd seemed to defeat the purpose for some of the digital denizens, others glowed with a sense of budding relationships. “I met a venture capitalist who I’m going to see tomorrow,” beams Emile Fonderson, technical director with MyOwnPrice.Com, a priceline.com-like state-your-own price travel service.

Talk is cheap at these gatherings. “They’re not very British,” concedes First Tuesday promoter Narda Shirley of London PR firm Gnash Communications. “People walk around and openly talk to each other.”

The First Tuesday concept is also traveling well, as the founders have rolled out their shindigs to 27 cities concentrated in Europe, including Dublin, Frankfurt, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Prague. Last November, it sampled the U.S. party scene, throwing a do in San Francisco dubbed “Eurotrash.” A New York First Tuesday is in the works, and First Tuesday has also landed in Moscow, Sydney, and Tel Aviv.

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