Monday, April 20, 2009

GFC A-Ok? We need a new house notion...? [Unplugging 'dance music' with a big douche called Bankrupt]

You might have noticed that SSGs has changed in the past few months, with a heavier emphasis on live sets and less editorializing, ranting and wanking on about various micro obsessions. ‘Good!’ I hear you say. Ahem… well, we’ve all been ridiculously busy, it’s true, but for me personally, another key factor has been my own disengagement from that understanding of electronic music known as ‘dance music’. I’ll explain.

My initial transition into electronic music came by way of electronica, especially Sonig, Warp and Sub Rosa. But by 1999 or so, when I was a first year undergraduate, it was all about the parties and the drugs: I had discovered drum’n’bass, acid techno and minimal techno, and I would head out into the night with a head full of kick drums at least once a week. It was a fix, one I enjoyed, one that connected me to the music in a viscerally embodied way. In those days, I didn’t trainspot, I just danced my anonymous dance to the anonymous beat, often being laid down by an anonymous DJ (I really mean it. I’m not sure even she knew who she was at times). Coming out of rock (noise/indie/post) it was the largest of liberations finally I was freed from the musically masturbatory cult of personality that I saw on stage accompanying almost every singer/songwriter/guitar-based musical group. A side-effect of rave culture had been the invention of a completely new and different way of relating to music, and I was young, full of the devil, and loved it.

Five years on and not only going out to listen to music, but also studying and choosing the event with the utmost care (the lineup, the venues, the soundsystem) had become integral: provoked by Tokyo, my standards had gone through the roof, and I came to demand and expect what the Eastern Capital could provide – world-class talent playing to dedicated crowds in great clubs with outstanding sound systems. I got spoilt.

Europe was a partial disappointment: Fabric was (is) an overcrowded shithole full of coked up muthafuckers; Rex is a sleazy hangover from the seventies where talent and a great system are wasted on a daggy dancefloor full of out-of-towners and Erasmus students on the pull; Berghain was fine, but everything in Berlin seemed intimately tied to getting very, very, very, very wasted for a long time…. even though it was often almost impossible to score pills. Very frustrating.

In all these places, something was ‘missing’. Or, to put it another way, the precise problem was that ‘the proper way of listening to dance music’ in the Euro understanding was intimately tied to binge culture, to hedonism, to getting wasted. Escape was inescapable, even (especially) in Berlin, where I thought a significant minority would be there for the music. And sure, a minority were… but they were wasted too. But the majority? They were only there for the drugs. Hell, I was there for the drugs too, and I still enjoyed the ‘party’ aspect of it… but the music bit had seemed to fade into the background, replaced by a scene that was driven by visual/fashion cultures – haircut techno. Was it me? Was I just getting old and crotchety? Was I sentimentally romanticizing the past, or just painfully shedding it, only to discover that the present was too cool to touch without shivering. Whatever the reasons, it was impossible for me to capture either the dance connoisseur/auteur/otaku culture I’d enjoyed in Tokyo, or the anonymous rave oblivion of the 90s. I could try if I wanted to, but once the drugs wore off, I’d remember where I was, and it wasn’t ‘then’ anymore. Worse, it was like the ‘Eels’ song from the third season of the Mighty Boosh:

‘Elements of the past, and elements of the future, combining to make something – not quite as good as either.’

Returning to Melbourne accelerated the Eels experience by a factor of five… I could certainly enjoy going out to get wasted (which I still did, but not as much, and not as often), but it was getting nigh on impossible to get back… and slowly (with the preternatural onset of middle age) my urge to go out was beginning to be met with an urge not to go out. That my Melbourne friends were overwhelmingly uninterested in staying out past three and doing drugs with a bunch of mostly cliquey, dull, unfriendly clubbers in second rate clubs might have had something to do with it… I found the whole malarkey actively alienating, and I’m convinced that ‘it’s not just me’. Even factoring in the fact that I’m spoilt, picky, snobby and over-the-hill, something has changed, and not for the better. ‘Electronic dance music’ (that particular way of relating to and understanding electronic music) had dug itself with a groove into a rut of no return. It was stuck on loop in the late 90s, with the same signifiers, the same venues, the same stale ideas about ‘the proper way of listening to dance music’: added to that was all the ‘neo’ stuff, a horrible hodge-podge of new rave and surf wear, the perfect outfit for another weekend’s worth of corporate raving and outer suburban glowstick waving, jagerbombs, methed-up bouncers, and Trentemoller. It's true there are still some good parties, some good DJs, some good events... but fewer and farther between, and overwhelmed by what has become a particularly nasty culture of hedonistic consumerism based on being glossy and getting fucked and bombed on drugs designed to reinforce ego.

And now there's just such a massive disjuncture, because production community has moved on: these days Martyn and Flying Lotus have no problem meeting and collaborating; Seth Troxler begins to snap at the heels of Ricardo Villalobos… and listeners are listening, too: even died-in-the-wool Pitchfork listeners at least try to ‘get’ Skull Disco; Mount Kimbie listens to DJ Koze, Koze plays Mount Kimbie and Animal Collective… but where the fuck is your local clubland? At 10:15 on a Saturday night, it’s waiting for its baggy to arrive is what (purchased on cash advance). And you have to have pretty strong powers of repression and denial not to see the chains of equivalence between this moribund and morbid culture of sniffing, snorting, and strutting about and its enormous toll on the earth itself, whether it’s the ridiculous number of air miles the DJ jetset culture uselessly ‘racks up’, or the current drug wars (and associated instabilities) taking place in Colombia, Mexico, in Jamaica, in West Africa. Meanwhile, back here in la la land, behind the walls, the sad old beast still has a few sniffs left in her.

To wit: 'dance music' always involved drugs, and fashion and fuckwits, no question. But at some point, a music culture that took a lot of interest in drugs became a corporatised drug-taking culture that took some interest in the brands of certain 'names' in 'dance music'. In retrospect, I think it will be associated with the worst excesses of the pre-bust era. With this in mind, I suggest keeping some happy snaps lying around to show to your grandchildren. You can say, 'beware children, for it can all go so terribly, horribly wrong.' Or, more directly: 'the planet was destroyed for this.' We can leave it up to them to decide whether it was worth it.

I have a very strong (and slightly tingling) feeling that the current economic contractions will squeeze a lot of this tired old detritus out, and as far as 90% of them is concerned, this is something I heartily welcome. Hopefully a whole parochial industry lousy with VIP laminates, redundant ideas and third-rate cocaine will get washed out into the Bay… but what’s gonna take its place? Who gives a fuck, actually. But no, as a matter of fact, I have a feeling that something good, something young, something rooted in its locality but with an ear to the world of now will grow up in its place. No doubt it will be quickly modulated, managed, and subordinated to a profitable and marketable imitation of former/same, but in the meantime, something good might happen. Something interested in what, I trust and know, all you ssgs are interested in: music.

...or please tell me that 'business as usual' is okay, and I'm just a jaded wanker... what say you?



  1. great post. maybe you are jaded, maybe not.

  2. Depending on your age and how many events you've been to, it's okay to be jaded. Too much of a good thing is bad in my opinion.

    I'm young and still find the scene interesting, but I can never see myself clubbing at the age of 35 with the same intensity and interest as I do now.

  3. hmmmm chicks and a pile of meat. Im so bored just looking at his I didnt bother reading

  4. hmmm. Not old, not jaded - and a very succinct summary of where things were, and are at. Egad and don't the pics sum up the worst of what we hate about where clubbing is at. ugh.
    Mainstream clubbing anyway. There are still a few underground gigs happening - thank Jeebus.

    Fact is clubbing is considered cool and 95% of punters are oblivious to the who's / what's / sound quality etc and just want to get totally wasted. However there will always be a core of punters who are in it for the music, and their passion just grows and grows.

    It's an amazing experience when those punters and great music & sounds come together and thankfully they still do every so often.

    I've probably got 20+ years on most of your readers and I know my passion for great music reaches new levels all the time and I thrive on it and feed off it. Sure, I am now clubbing less coz I'm just tired of dealing with those who have no idea & no etiquette.

    Now if we all think how bad it can be at times, guess what - there's worse ! Yes, the gay scene. What used to be so cutting edge is now naff beyond naff.

    Anyhoo - power to sites like this one, for taking the time and effort to find, say, and put up what you do - and to feed us that have opinions. New music discoveries ! Gets the heart racing at times huh.

  5. pretty on the money. In Sydney its gotten to the point that the ideal party has been limited to Mad Racket - which is fantastic but is is just one party - the only place to find chilled out, mid 20s to mid 40s, good music, good sound system/venue etc...

  6. True, true its all true (whimpers)

    often it hurts alot to stay attached to this culture .. I watched my own friends switch to hedonism as if thats what it had been about the whole time .. very disconcerting ..

    beat math, swing/shuffle, polyrhythms, and futuristic hybrid french/japanese robot apocalypse soundscapes are worth continuing..

    fuck club music..
    give me art we can dance to..

    there is still a thin underground stream of this .. but it's *alot* of work finding it ..

  7. Great piece, I think you're dead on about the recession. I just hope that the detritus shaken off will be washed away - far, far away. Perhaps the scene is not dead, just concealed underneath too many layers of paint?

  8. I think the article is pretty spot on. I had an interesting reflection when seeing Tiger Stripes play at Kink in Sydney on sat night. The crowd consisted of pretty much half techno fans there to see him do his thing and half an Oxford st. crowd who probably didn't know who was playing that night and had ventured to the club (as many unfortunately do in Sydney) because it is a club and clubbing is the cool thing to do.

    Tiger Stripes proceeded to play what i thought was a very solid set and I was hopeful we might be able to achieve the kind of cohesion I witnessed a week earlier seeing Minilogue vibe of a great crowd at a great party, but something was missing.

    The atmosphere at Kink had a weird feel to it compared to the other party and I put this down to the lack of contribution made by the random 'careless hedonist' punters to the collective vibe. The point i'm trying to get at is that everyone who has had an amazing techno experience where all the elements come together; the music, the sound/set-up, and ofcourse the crowd, will be able to relate to that feeling when the whole crowd seems to be moving as one entity, relating to the DJ a collective emotion which he relates back to the crowd through the music he plays for them. I'm talking about that magic moment in the night when the energy on the dance floor is palpable.

    Most fans of techno (and many other forms of edm) who understand this experience activley seek it out, and activley try to cultivate it. In my opinion its what we are refering to when we talk about good parties and bad parties. My point is that while i (or should i say we the punters) had attained this experience a week earlier seeing Minilogue with a more dedicated, intelligent crowd; it seemed a struggle to reach any sort of harmony of vibe at Tiger Stripes and i put this down to the presence of casual and apathetic "clubbers" who don't understand the wonderous results which can come from the punter making a personal investment in the night and the vibe, mainly because they just don't think about it that much.

    Sadly for many, clubbing is just about getting bombed and hearing the dj smash out some gurn-fodder, and sharing the dance floor with these people whilst listening to music which i would usually hear around like-minded people pointed out to me how important the crowd's attitude is if we're to get anything out of this music in a live setting.

    Tiger Stripes clearly felt it too as everytime he tried to go a little deeper the floor started to clear and he had to revert to more instantly gratifying material.

    However there may be some good to come of this. I've noticed most times i've been to Kink that the vibe has suffered a similar fate and every time i've put it down to the presence of the casual Oxford St. crowd. And while this is frustrating i'm always reminded that this group of 'clubbers' being exposed to the more credible sounds of EDM (that is; something other than the electro scourge) can only be a good thing.

    I suppose we can't expect someone who's only exposure to EDM is the MOS Annual to start throwing shapes to Efdemin, but perhaps in time and with enough beatport tech-house bangers they might start to dig a little deeper. For this reason i'm always willing to go back to this club despite its problems with atmosphere and it is refreshing to see electro kids dancing to techno, regardless of how authentic the experience will feel for me.

    Anyway thats my reflection/rant. Felt the need to get it off my chest as this was all highlighted for me by the noticable difference in vibe between Saturday's party and the week before.

    ps: Your not jaded dude, i'm only 20 and i'm already thinking about this shit haha. God help me when i'm 30!

  9. I went to see Oner Ozer at Matter (the bigger, even dumber fabric) this sat.
    He didn't play in the end for whatever reason and I ended up watching Sven Vath.(whoopie fucking doo)
    I watched and hated and felt out of place and tried to dance but couldn't be bothered and sent a text to my GF at 4 in the morning saying "I need a new genre."
    Last year, the jaded kicked off in me big time.
    I'm finding the music more and more stale when I do try and venture out. My Gf took me to see Bat for Lashes the following night and I danced my arse off.

  10. i'd like more parties that run from 9pm till 2am so i don't have to hang around people taking drugs to hear the music i want to.

    not that anyone really plays it in melbourne anyway.

    there always has been very few clubs/nights about the 'music'....always will be i guess.

    I have a feeling that people setting up new nights for their music seem to think that they need to run all night parties for some reason....its silly.

  11. "But no, as a matter of fact, I have a feeling that something good, something young, something rooted in its locality but with an ear to the world of now will grow up in its place."

    isn't this how music has always worked (going back hundreds of years)? and the arts in general? isn't this just how people work?

    "You can say, 'beware children, for it can all go so terribly, horribly wrong.' Or, more directly: 'the planet was destroyed for this.'"

    this is a little over the top isn't it? last time i checked, 99% of the people i knew weren't into dance music...

    i never experienced dance culture ten years ago. i can't comment on how things used to be and how much they've gone downhill, but neither can you really justify commenting on how things are now if you're no longer going out and finding out for yourself.

    this article is nothing more than a series of exaggerated global generalizations and speculations, backed up only by anecdotal evidence. in other words, bad journalism.

  12. i think its important to remember most of us started out, as you did, as uneducated people having a lot of fun, a large amount due to the confusion of the surroundings. however we've all come through to it being vastly more about the music and maybe a percentage of the people you complain about will come through to being about the music. people will have been complaining in 1999 about your kind who just turned up and thought the whole thing was anonymous and got mashed and never found out anything about what was going on.

    and as for the people who show up because 'clubbing is a cool thing to do', these people have chosen clubbing over going and seeing a band or doing to a house party etc. an amount of this will be down to swarm mentality but the swarm are picking dance music and that shouldnt be forgotten. as a DJ the fun is in guiding the uneducated masses through the night whilst rewarding the more knowledgable punters. playing to people who you know were in the position you were years ago i think is exciting - if their ears are open you dont know how much of fantastic time they are having, lost in a world of sound (and drugs). it was definatly a little bit frustrating in my own clubbing life when i was able to know instinctivly when a new track was coming in and the other one was going out. some of the magic has been swopped for knowledge.

    although this isnt to say i dont for the large part agree with you - just think maybe its not a good thing to take on a purely elitist approach to clubbing which is after all a social experience. if you were to take away all people in clubland who werent there entirely for the music it would be a very different experience bordering at time i imigine on trainspotting.

  13. I know the feeling. It's like being trapped in this hole of hedonistic culture and braindamage combined with the music that brought you something you can't explain but has such high value to you, you can't let it go.

    There will always be moments like these, but I think keeping the moments where they belong, grabbing your records and just continue playing will automatically sort the worst feelings out.

    / Noah

  14. @ Greg:

    "I need a new genre."

    this is what alcoholics anonymous refers to as a "moment of clarity".

  15. Phew, I'm happy I actually read this piece, even though the pics made me loose all respect and think "yet another ozzie surfjock idiot". (Sorry, had to say it)

    Interesting thoughts there, even though I can't see the problem being that big. The scene is so large and diverse there will always be enough pure music lovers to keep the vibe alive. And really, it's a give and take - the spaced druggies need the music enthusiast to serve them the perfect soundtrack, and vice versa those sober ones need someone to keep the party going. Everyone can't stand by the speakers and analyse.

  16. yeesh, the dreary side of blogging... seems like a lot of folks here 'need a new genre,' and I don't think that's the genre's fault.

    on a more trivial note, anyone who finds it 'nearly impossible' to get pills in Berghain is REALLY doing something wrong...

  17. when i try to talk about the cultural differences in dance music in the US, this kind of thing is what i'm talking about. there is the
    "rave" influenced culture that consists of the hard drug using, need a new "cool thing" every so often kind of people. and then there's the people whose culture is more closely related to soul music, where you see people in their 50s still dancing to deep house, soul, and disco music. sure there is always gonna be some drug use and/or drinking, but there is a huge difference in these cultures. i am only interested in one of these....

  18. I generally feel jaded with clubbing until the drugs kick in and I mellow out(too many rude people knocking into each other - and not even enough room to even dance - its a night club for gods sake.) But, I have always put that down to getting older. Im nearly 31, and don't see myself as part of the younger generation in the clubs that I go to.

    I think that part of the jaded feeling is just because you have the same night out in the decent techno clubs of the world regardless of the continent. There are only so many times that you can have that night out before it loses that magic that made it special. Very few people can do something that they love for ever without losing the passion that they had when they first started.

  19. Like everything, it's probably a delicate balance that's always going to be unsatisfying in some regards.

    I consider North America, even open-minded, diverse Toronto, part of the periphery of dance music culture. For anyone not really in it for the love of electronic dance music, there are more trendy styles of music to follow and more fashionable places to be seen at.

    As a result, the 3 to 5 times a year someone good comes to town the audience is enthusiastic and discerning (read: 70% male)... but I only get a musically satisfying night out 3 to 5 times a year. I'm not sure how I would feel about more events at the expense of more punters and douchebags. More girls certainly wouldn't hurt.

    A thriving underground scene would be ideal, but i don't see how one could be financial sustainable without the money, patronage, and interest of people we otherwise wouldn't want there. Of course, I'm not discounting the possibility that such a scene exists in Toronto and I just have my head up my ass.

  20. @ G: anecdotal evidence and exaggerated generalisations.... yes, this is avowedly and openly an opinion piece, in case you hadn't noticed. I make no claim to 'hard empirical research', no five year ethnographies, no statistics, no interviews.... but this was hardly what was intended, and this was made abundantly clear.

    @ Will: I was describing an experience, not my prowess. It is also an experience echoed by several people I've spoken to.

    My secondary question to both G and Will on this tip is to ask: do you think there is no place in the blogosphere for editorialising in this way? And, thirdly, why is there such a high correlation between people who feel the need to actually comment by pish-poshing such posts by spending time to write a comment that says little more than 'I don't like this post'.
    My claim: by commenting you are 'adding to the debate'. Why add 'nothing' to the debate'? Perhaps this is part of why it's boring for you. Why not refute my claims instead? Why not engage?

    @ Jimmy: I think this is one of the core issues I was trying to get at. Why is the 'proper way of experiencing dance music' tied to 12-7am parties? There is no reason why we couldn't do 9pm-2am gigs... you could ride your bike, have a few drinks, have a good dance, pedal home, get a full night's rest, and wake up in time for breakfast the next morning... wow, amazing. And yes, there are day parties, but predominantl only big box corporate events held on public holidays.

    So why can't 'we' have evening parties? Part of the answer is pills, crystal meth, cocaine, all of which keep people up, out, and needing to continue the party right into Sunday. I can't say it's done much for the music.

  21. @ Srdic and others on the 'mainstream' vs 'elite' PoV, too:

    ....I wonder why it has to be like that. Why does electronic music have to be 'dance music', and why does 'dance music' have to be about 'clubbing' (which also implies getting munted)?

    Surely we can invent new models that co-exist... electronic music scenes usually exist in medium to large cities, where there are sufficient numbers of venues such that the punters you see having such a good time in the pics I nabbed off google images can continue to have 'their' parties without infringing on 'ours'. You know, you can be a little exclusive without excluding in this case... part of the problem is that corporate raving has swallowed most of the internationals, the venues, etc etc... and that the common understanding of electronic music in Melbourne for young people has been 'corporate raving'. It's about fostering counter-cultures, and the lack thereof.

    ...we can look at an analagous Australian example with JJJ, the lame-o 'youth' broadcaster. They were so concerned with defining and defining 'youth' and what its tastes were, that, when they decided on Jebediah and other lame arse 'indie' guitar pop bands in the 90s, they decided to ride that horse, which they have been doing since the late 90s.... now their ratings are imploding, because JJJ's definition of 'youth' is a very bad match for what most youth are actually interested in....

    ...I feel like the clout of mainstream clubbing has had a similar strangling effect on electronic music in Australia.. and actually, JJJ hasn't helped much either.

  22. @ G again on the bad journalism thing:

    Don't you think it's much more pernicious to try to pass of 'bad journalism' as journalism?

    This happens *all* the time. Look at most newspapers, and how little actual newsgathering they do. Most journalists are engaged in churnalism, recycling facts from google, wikipedia and other journalistic sources... ask anyone who works in the media and they'll tell you this is going on.

    If you're interested in this and want to read more, check this title out:

  23. what i find interested is that there seems to be an attitude that the most authentic "clubbers" are those that grew up in the '90s going to illegal raves and experienced the first wave of electronic music clubs.

    there's a whole range of different types (like where i fall) when it was a musical progression that led me to going to clubs; nothing to do with having a sick party or taking heaps of drugs.

    at the same time there have been people who go, get fucked up, and have fun.

    there's obviously several other "types" in the clubbing world and its hard for them to all get along. if you go to a gig to listen to a dj and someone is there to get mashed you might get annoyed, but really do you have a right to be? surely any reason to go out is as good as another....or should there be dedicated nights for certain types?

    the problem i find in going out is that i've found good parties where people go with a good attitude (some get wasted, some get drunk, some not)....and everyone has a fun night...but...i don't really get into the music. which is a shame. but its nobodies fault but mine.

    i suppose if people who complain about the state of clubs/parties whatever are really concerned about it they should start throwing their own nights. (standard response really..but it rings true)

  24. PC - of course electronic doesn't have to be about dance music at all.

    I am sure all of your readers have gorgeous electronic music that they lay on the sofa, or in bed, and bliss out to; I know I do and in fact these days more and more of this stuff is floating my boat and recharging my batteries. As are many of your deep tech posts.

    Still, every now and then we need to go out and make some shapes and there's nothing better than if it's with like minded company. We all know and love those little knowing grins when you catch an eye across the dancefloor, that's getting / hearing it too.

    Can the tribes co-exist ? Likely not as the vacuously munted element just gets in the way of it and I know at times DJ's are torn with who to play to.
    Commercial clubbing would only have a small percentage of punters who really have an opinion so of course most DJ's will play to the masses.

    This is why gigs that generally attract a more considered crowd, tend to usually be infrequent and require smaller number of punters to survive. Of course these gigs will rarely be in so called 'super clubs'. CloudTwo makes valid comments.

    Case in point - two Sydney DJ's who routinely play to the gay community and 'dumb it down', played at a Mad Racket not so long ago and lifted the roof. They were able to spread their wings and soar. And they did, much to the appreciation of the punters, and in fact gave the gig the kick in the arse that was perhaps needed as with all gigs that have been going successfully for many years, they need to be kept fresh and a little challenged if they are to survive.

    In the end it really is vive le difference - because there always will be differences and tribes and that's a good thing as it makes people (& DJ's & producers), aspire to more surely.

  25. Very interesting post - thanks. In fact, I wrote something that kind of addressed this on our blog (don't know if its the done thing to refer people to your own blog, so delete at will if its impolite...). For my money, Berghain is a superlative nightclub. Architecturally, acoustically, music policy and progressive attitude to proper straight up techno and house. But I also understand what you mean about the atmosphere, at times. And, of all the club nights I've been to whilst living in Berlin, its the ones at the smaller, less well known venues that have been the most fun, best atmospheres, and with the least well known DJs.

    Have a look at if you're interested in a piece about RAW temple and the Ballhaus Ost. The places you talk about from the past exist today, they're just a a little harder to find, and occur a little less regularly.

    Rechenzentrum, sun-rise over the lake at 6.00am with the sound of a bass-drum leaking out the slightly shabby club space.

    I think there's still something, somewhere...

  26. And a short p.s. to that post.

    Berghain, mid-week, during the Transmediale festival, Robert Heneke with his installation piece (I forget the name). Or Wolfgang Voigt on a sunday evening in Leipzig, starting at 9 or 10. Or indeed Voigt in Berlin, mid-week again...

    Of course, the majority of electronic-music is played as 'dance music', but the 'electronic music' as cultural event, art, what have you, also exists and in many different settings.

    And a note on what was commented on the staying up all night until the sunrise culture: for me, its is the sunrise. Its walking out when its light, having almost lost the evening in a space which is so unlike the normal day, with music that is, I think, pretty challenging and adventurous, and having seen someone playing music that she or he really, truly, completely loves, is what makes club-music, electronic music, music that really comes alive when actually danced to.

    Thanks for the provocative posting!

  27. @ Srdic & Thomas: of course the mainstream... but mainstreaming is so much an effect of the mass media... I wonder how this will change as the mass of medias fragments into medialets... you can already see this happening to some extent. As Move D said in my interview with him, there was a time in europe in the early 90s where most people were either a) U2 fans or b) Madonna fans ... and you could 'tell' about a person based on that either/or.... Stadium A, or Stadium B? Anecdotally tastes appear to be fragmenting and cross-pollinating, while younger people's iPods also co-exist Appetite for Destruction, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and, say, the latest Cocoon, Kompakt, etc.... this has become a very 'popular' way of listening to music, and to some extent its new (in terms of prevalence and technological enablement).

    @ Jimmy: there's definitely a danger in kinda reifying 'the good old days' or positing that somehow people who were there back in the day had access to a better, more authentic experience. Of course this is entirely illusory. ... not only that, but, back in the old days it was considered 'DJing' just to be able to beatmatch, because a much, much smaller number of people could do that AND had the records... used to have to wait to get 'em from US/UK/EUR, and you've have to know the shops, go to the shops, and the shops were SO unfriendly if you weren't one of their chums... good riddance to all that.

    ...maybe you guys are right about the impossibility of actually finding and audience AND a venue for music-centric/geeky gigs... but, you know, I see the indie kids in Melbourne do it all the time.... no, but it is happening here with the electronic scene here and there, but it nonetheless has to go hat in hand to the 'mainstream' and 'dumb it down'/'rave it up' in a way no dignified math rocker would ever deign to...

    ...and yes, the DJs who've come out of the gay scene are often the best, even though the selections at your average Saturday Night Meat Market are necesarily 'oooh baby..'...I think the clubbing thing also feeds in to this 'proper way of being gay' in Australia, for example, where, because of the media push of Oxford St/Mardi Gras, it's become this hot pants and feather boas muscle mary mania thing that is actually, well, in very poor taste....

    ...thing is that aesthetically anchored subcultures attach themselves to sounds, and this defines and restricts possibility... eg is psy trance. why does it have to be about Israelis in tie die on mushrooms? Who said 'this is the rules'... yet overwhelmingly that gets reproduced, faithfully, and as it becomes more and more orthodox, there's less 'breathing space', less slack for anything else..

    ...I guess that's what I feel. I feel a bit strangled, I'm looking for 'open space', 'fresh air'... and yes, there's plenty at home here, on the couch, in my headspace, listening to deep techno.... but again, it seems like production and listening cultures have really, really moved on, but in the places where it reterritorialises, where it 'appears' (as DJs are wont to do, hence 'appearance fee'), it still seems stuck in a redundant, ugly way of being... no?

    ...but then, Omar S was right in his recent interview, where he was talking about how 'it's the underground, silly'. Buying out of the main frequency drivel that the pushers are pushing means taking responsiblity for your autonomy as a listener and trying to seek out sounds and build communities... it means, as Shed says, taking 'solo action'.

    ...for us, this was why we started SSGs, and I thank you all for helping it to work so well.

  28. could your last post be read as "all my dealers grew up and got real jobs and without substance this scene sux"? that's been my feeling for the last few years, anyway. not that i was ever truly in it, but was it ever good without pills?

    surely there is or should be a new scene catering for late-20s early-30s DINKs who still want a bit of the party feel but without the douches. the huge bolus of hipsters which pushed through the underground in post-jjj days of the early 00s now have steady jobs and cash and no kids. in melbourne jerome's attempting to surf this wave by closing st jerome's and opening newtown worker's club.

    simple economics dictates that there should be plenty of places charging too much for drinks because that's one way to keep the (broke) pill kiddies out. collingwoodland. von haus. recorded music salon. probably plenty of other places. melbourne's small enough that a scene can grow up around one place run well - cf st jeromes or pony or even honkytonks. but it's also rock enough that it might be tough times for decent electronic music in this city.

  29. @ PC

    thank you for offering to further my understanding of journalism in general! of course other examples of bad journalism are more pernicious than this piece, but since when does “somebody else did worse” constitute a defence? maybe I shouldn’t have used the word ‘journalism’ – I’m sorry if I seemed to have misinterpreted the purpose of your piece.

    “do you think there is no place in the blogosphere for editorialising in this way?”

    I think there’s no place for this sort of melodramatic, unconstructive editorialising anywhere, so yes. you’re just encouraging more people to sulk and complain, rather than go out and look a bit harder (surprisingly enough, given the size of any of the countries/cities you’ve mentioned, there are good parties out there if you can be bothered to look), or to do something about it for themselves.

    perhaps your status as an independent blogger means you don’t feel any responsibility for your influence over your readers’ attitudes, which makes it ok to write these sorts of negative speculative opinion pieces, but I think whenever a blog as popular and widely read as this one posts a piece like this, it is damaging to the state of dance music commentary in general, which is why I posted a response (incidentally I don’t think ‘I don’t like this post’ is really a fair summary of my original feedback!).

    given the size and spread of dance music culture across the world, any attempts to generalise like this are inevitably going to be completely divorced from reality. there is a lot happening out there. maybe at a slower pace than in the past, but can you really expect things to carry on at the rate they moved when dance music had (relatively speaking) only just been invented?! to say that good parties, good DJs, good events have been ‘overwhelmed’ by the dark side of dance music culture – expecting the good times to be handed to you on a plate, rather than counting yourself lucky to have experienced the best in Tokyo or elsewhere in the past - *is* to be jaded, yes!

    I just can’t see the point of this piece, unless it’s to gain reassurance from other jaded exravers that you’re not missing out on too much by disconnecting yourself from the culture (you are), or to set yourself up with that final paragraph so that when the next exciting ‘movement’ happens in dance music (almost inevitable due to the nature of human creativity), you can pat yourself on the back and say “I told you so”.

  30. I'm feeling better about my Matter raping today....and I listened to a good mix, which is making me vaguely positive again. Its not "I need a new genre" anymore.
    Its. "I need to find a nice place to listen to this music with lots of like minded people who aren't just there to get monged out of their heads"
    At the moment that's my basement.
    It'll have to do.

  31. "...just concealed underneath too many layers of paint?"

    Or too many layers of fake tan and foundation Clifford?!

    [back in my day moment alert]

    I started my clubbing life at nights like Access and Dogma in Edinburgh, in grubby (literally) underground venues like Honeycomb. Music was good, drugs were plentiful if you wanted them, but not necessary, and the crowd was friendly and not cliquey at all. It was largely just local djs, with a monthly guest. Everyone seemed to know or know someone who knew the guys who put these nights on, so everyone was warm and welcoming. You could turn up to a night without on your own and just mingle with people. I haven't met and had a good friendly chat with a random at a club in ages.

    A friend of mine sent me an email earlier this year with this photo attached:

    and a caption saying "this is why I don't go to events anymore".

    Not to be all miserable, I saw Four Tet in the basement of the Mercat Cross (or whatever its called nowdays) in Melbourne late last year. Some people danced, most didn't, people chatted and mingled, but everyone was utterly transfixed by what was going on in front of us. The crowd was, like Mike said, 90% male, and PC and Jimmy, it was all over by midnight. I walked home up victoria street sober and grinning, and had a spliff and a debriefing with a mate at home.

    Oh, and PC and G, also see "The media we deserve" by David Salter.

  32. @G: But G, I've drawn you in and forced you to be descriptive, give reasons, and defend the status quo... so surely that has value... and you've been able to air your views, too, without having to publish your name.

    ...scroll through the responses, especially the Australian responses, and you'll see that I'm not just inventing this: I feel like I've laid bare by prejudices and pespectives at the outset before saying 'But nonetheless...'

    & more specifically: "think whenever a blog as popular and widely read as this one posts a piece like this, it is damaging to the state of dance music commentary in general, which is why I posted a response."

    ...this is a bit of a 'leave Britney alone' comment, I must say. Dance music is a big old lass with ropey muscles and a husky voice. She can look after herself, I think. far as taking responsiblity for 'dance music' goes... well, I take responsibility for my attacks on it by engaging in the comments, and that's as far as I goes. I am emphatically *not* responsible to/for 'dance music'.... imagine if I felt the need to simply 'pass over in silence' any criticisms I might have for fear of 'hurting the feelings' of an industry?

    Could this inability to criticise and have that criticism presented and discussed critically lead to boosterism?

    This is precisely what happened to hip-hop culture, and it's one of the things that really, really closed it in on itself until it strangled on its own unreflexive, defensive, biter/hater attitude.

    ...the fact that there was 'something rotten in the state of hip-hop' was manifestly obvious to anyone without a vested interest by the late nineties; I make the analagous claim about 'dance music' - ask any one of your friends who is familiar with, but outside the scene... ask anyone who got jack of it and quit (and, yes, take into consideration the factors like old, jaded, and 'the good old days') nonetheless there is a problem, and it the problem is a failure to invent a performance model that is not drug dependent.

    @ Dave:'s interesting you mention the indie/coolsie kids... can go to gigs where the mathrock backpacks are all still gathered round to hear the latest Albini/Mogwai cover band play at Old Bar or whatnot, but you'd have to say that the indie scene (and the indie DJ scene) is in rude health here, and that there are a range of outlets and places, some are drug dependent (booze everywhere, booze and pills at Pony and Ya Yas) ... it feeels like there has been a fresh burst (or several fresh bursts for guitar-based music in Melbourne.

    ...I'm getting parochial here, forgive me. Chief among these must be the failure (with notable exceptions) of Australia to produce a producer culture as fertile as its DJ culture. There are *so* many good DJs here, and so few decent producers... I don't know why that is.

    ...could one of the reasons be a lack of viable 'non peaktime' outlets for electronic music.... is it the failure of 'dance music' to produce a performance repertoire that's as visually compelling as a band, a guitar, and a singer with a haircut... is it that, necessarily, any music that is predominantly without vocals, that eschews pop hooks and structure etc is necessarily gonna be minor? Who can say?

    The question is if/where the dominant scene is 'squeezing out' the minor/alternatives to that...

  33. I did enjoy the piece very much, and can't understand why some posters seem to criticize you for feel jaded and perhaps a little negative. I did not read the piece for your factual accuracy, I read it because your passion and concern appealed to feelings and moments I have had. Normally such doubts arise when I see a man with his jaw touching the back of head, whilst indiscriminately grabbing asses like some malfunctioning robotic wrong cock.

    A personal question that often stings me, are these the people I would like to make music for?

    You are not some techno Jesus, I don't not expect you to take the weight of all our doubts, you are not responsible for our opinions. You are allowed to have times of doubt, without being condemned for it.

    So please generalize further, and make more impassioned and dubious statements, be inconsistent. The opposite of these certainly is not the only mark of a decent thought (or blog.

    I will read ruminatively, and reply if I feel the need. Rumination, a word some could do with enjoying further.

    Thanks for the post, well written and enjoyable.

    Oh and Clubbing in Japan, does have a magic to it. I was at the last night of Yellow, sober as a judge surrounded by people that would dance to the beat of a tin pot. Perhaps there is an innocence to the clubbers there, that we seem to lack here.

  34. @PC's last comment:

    i'll write a longer response to your article when i have thought a bit more but:

    i don't agree with your comment about the indie scene in melbourne. i have plenty of friend's who are in that scene and have gone to enough gigs etc to come to the conclusion that it is nothing like the past dance scene you describe so nicely.

    a massive proportion of indie kids are rude pretentious pricks who care more about their hair then the music and i'm fairly sure would not be down for a chat.

    i am 20, love techno/good dance music and have a fair few friends who do too, we go out in Melbourne and enjoy ourselves. don't always get super wasted. if you choose the right parties it is possible to have an awesome time in melbourne.

    maybe you're a little jaded... i can see your point though, a lot about the dance music scene sucks. i think i just contradicted myself. ha.

    it seems maybe these days parties are a lot more hit and miss.

    shameless plug: come to platform 3 in Richmond on sunday, me and a few friends play good music from about 4pm to 11pm. no dick heads.

  35. @ PC, briefly:

    "& more specifically: "think whenever a blog as popular and widely read as this one posts a piece like this, it is damaging to the state of dance music commentary in general, which is why I posted a response."

    ...this is a bit of a 'leave Britney alone' comment, I must say. Dance music is a big old lass with ropey muscles and a husky voice. She can look after herself, I think."

    haha yes i'm sure she can, but i was talking about the state of dance music commentary, not dance music.

  36. @pc: I'm sure there is a place in the blogosphere for this kind of editorializing, and I'd like to stay as far away from that place as possible.

    I read blogs because they often provide valuable content (podcasts, live sets, info about artists/labels I should check out). Unfortunately, they also tend to provide a lot smelly hot air. In my opinion, this blog delivers some of the best of the former, and some of the worst of the latter.

  37. I'm really tired and probably didnt get the whole article, but it's kind of paradoxial:
    the music is (mostly) inspired by or you will only fully understand when you use or did use drugs. I think I read an article by Junkie XL (yeah, really) a while back about this.

    also, the main or so called 'it' clubs are always crowded by scenekids or tourist. theres always underground parties going on that are much deeper outside these clubs.

  38. @ G (And Will Lynch): my understanding of SSGs' focus is certainly not 'dance music'. If people ask me what music I'm passionate about, I say 'electronic music'. Why? Connotations of 'dance music' for the public (see original post).

    Broadly though, you're right, more research-intensive journalism would be a good thing. There are some things coming up at RA to look forward to, I won't say what – but this is incredibly slow, resource intensive and expensive. And, I think, editorialising is only a 'bad thing' if there is *only* editorialising. I also don't see any problem with presenting anecdotal information and making generalisations if no claim is being made to reach beyond a personal point of view... overwhelmingly, people's opinions are little more than an anecdote followed by a generalisation... some opinions are resonant, some land with a klang, some with a thud. Yours as the interlocutor to judge that and respond in kind, I guess...

    ...key among our reasons for starting this blog was so we could express our interests about the music we love in our way - this also always, from the beginning, included taking on topics that were on our mind in our way, without alibi. I'm happy we've also provided a space for you to disagree with that.

    @ William: sounds like you know better than I... maybe there are simply pockets of good air everywhere, but you have to seek them out?

  39. Well...talking as a Londoner, it has been a pretty shit scene here after nearly all the decent 'underground' clubs shut. This has never diluted my passion for the music however, with blogs like this one and increasingly accessible vinyl keeping the love alive.

    Despite how many bad nites are getting attention these days (Sven at Matter) I can still find great underground parties with a great crowd/vibe/all round extravaganza EDM experience (!) once I have waited and choosen the right one (Loco Dice in a disused office with 300 enthusiasts, Aphex Twin in Manchester, Kode9 at Lightbox, and i'm sure the same will be said about the upcoming Donato Dozzy at Corsica...dribble dribble). I'm not sure if it would help but maybe you should move to where the music is PC! As I've got older I really cannot stand a night full of people who really do not care about the music, I need some space to move also, and I need quick drinks. If I have to only go out 4 times a year to achieve this, so be it. Also, for the record, I have nothing against people getting off their faces - their choice, been there done it, would be hypocritical to cast aspersions. In response to people moaning about the post, I personally thought it was great in that it got me thinking and sparked an interesting debate. Why can't these people express their opinions? It's their creation. And I love it. p.s. The Cio Dor and and Gorman sets were unbelievable. And I finally found the name of a track from the DD set after months of hunting ''Generation'' by Emmanuel Top. mUchos LoveX

  40. @ most recent anonymous: thank you for your kind words, most appreciated...

    ...well, I would move to London, but not just for electronic music. I would visit Berlin for electronic music, but I'm not sure if I would/could live there. I'm pretty 'fixed' in Melbourne for the next few years at least due to my commitments. for going out on Melbourne, same deal: about four times a year there is a really well put-together party in a good space, with a good system, that has been promoted in a way that I can reasonably assume will attract an interesting mix of people. for getting *wasted* in Melbourne though (I emphasise that there *is* a place for hedonism, but when hedonism becomes seen as an exact fit for a 'music culture', that's when you have problems), I can speak for my friends and say that a certain out of hours venue here has become so rotten, so lousy with outer suburban munters (who are unfriendly to the point of being threatening) that we've ended up going to gay clubs, rock clubs, and house parties - we just don't bother with what's on offer on a week-by-week basis here. There is good stuff, there are people who give a fuck and know the difference, but they're in the minority... that's the 'statistical contour' of the situation.

    Sorry to quote Yeats:

    "The best lack all conviction, while the worst.
    Are full of passionate intensity."

    ...but this is also a matter of class, too. 'Dance music' has moved south-east and west, and the scene's attitudes and distinctions with it. It might be a whale of a time, if you fit in. I feel like effete, metropolitan, postgraduate geek cyclist boy... mind you, people are friendly in the gay clubs (now why could that be?). Who cares when the net effect is not having to be surrounded by an atmosphere of 'violence available for nix at the tap of a shoulder'.

    This also goes for the bouncers in most venues, too, who were awful anyway, but have been made unbearable by being on crystal meth and Red Bull and dealing with people on crystal meth and Red Bull... I would not underestimate the negative effect taurine has had on creating aggro here....

    ...back to the last point (and I'll promise I'll shut up soon and let others talk): even the very best parties in the world – Labyrinth in Gunma, Japan – are a precarious proposition these days. A huge feat of organisation, and the cops can still spoil it all.... why? Because the locals are afraid of dance music, because some poor girl OD-d and died at a psy trance rave down the road (all run and protected by yakuza, if the rumours have any merit).'s actually really hard to put on a good party, and turning a dime from it seems even tougher... which is also to say that 'we' shouldn't be in this for the money.. But, if you lose money every time you put on something that's 'one for the headz', you'll be disinclined to do it again, especially when there's a profitable bandwagon to jump on and promote...

  41. ahhh PC - stimulate away and don't get ground down. Get people thinking and talking. You do it well and it's your blog for chri'sake.

    The detractors - they're just not hearing it.

    As long as there will be massive (and widening) diversity in electronic music, as will there be in opinions, tribes and attitudes. A good thing methinks.

  42. @PC regarding that certain after hours club, it generally is pretty gross, and i hadn't been there in 6 months BUT:

    total moment of clarity when Daniel Dreier played there a few weeks ago. so good. crowd was nice and music was awesome.

    however, pocket of clean air comment probably applies and the sound system was pretty rubbish.

  43. Well..

    while we're waiting for a more advanced, sober techno.. flamenco is not a bad option .. nice polyrhythms/syncopation .. very nice keys they use .. hot girls .. brooding sound ..

    but no robots..

    but a techno flamenco would be cool .. robots with tin-can heads wearing bandandas wailing about about how oppressed they are .. magnetic feet stomping..
    click .zzZZzz. click..

  44. @ iD 303: know, I think it was an Uwe Schmidt side project... fact, he says one of the reasons he moved to Chile was to get away from 'dance music', and to see people in South America do electronic music in a different way... ...and I remember him describing some daytime party with a kind of Andes Folk trance, and all these women in bowler hats dancing around... must have been the coca.

  45. hehe.. :]

    CHRIST! ..

    Real Name: Uwe Schmidt

    Aliases: Almost Digital, Atom Heart, Atom™, Atomu Shinzo, BASS, Bitniks, The, Brown, Bund Deutscher Programmierer, CMYK, Coeur Atomique, D'Ammond, Disk Orchestra, The, Don Atom, DOS Tracks, Dots, Dr. Mueller, Dropshadow Disease, Erik Satin, Flextone, Fonosandwich, Geeez 'N' Gosh, H. Roth, i, Interactive Music, Lassigue Bendthaus, Lisa Carbon, Los Negritos, Los Sampler's, Machine Paisley, Midisport, Mono™, Naturalist, Real Intelligence, Roger Tubesound Ensemble, The, Schnittstelle, Señor Coconut, Semiacoustic Nature, Silver Sound, Slot, Soundfields, Stereonerds, The, Superficial Depth, Urban Primitivism, VSVN, Weird Shit

    In Groups: +N, Bi-Face, DATacide, Flanger, Gon, HAT, Jerk Off, Jet Chamber, Killerloops, Lisa Carbon & Friends, Lisa Carbon Trio, The, Masters Of Psychedelic Ambiance, Millennium, Ongaku, Pornotanz, Señor Coconut And His Orchestra, Second Nature (2), Subsequence, Surtek Collective, Synthadelic

  46. i dont think you look hard enough and you generalise to easily. how ever much you say its not, this post does seem to be about melbourne only. the labyrinth festival you describe as being "a massive feat of organisation". clearly. because it was a festival and festivals need large amounts of organisation for obvious reasons. you seem to namedrop it like it was the only decent event in the last couple of years. london (where i currently live) and the uk is full of decent events up and down the country people holding small niche no big name parties in cities towns and if your lucky villages. im sure many people would say similar things about other countries around the world.

    and in terms of looking harder, if you want to distinguish so markedly between dance music and electronic music why dont you seek out classical electronic music. concerts will mean you sit in a performance space with the only drugs being interval drinks, and you'll be surrounded by intelligent people willing to discuss the music. i saw a performance of a guy at the LMC (london music collective) festival of a guy using light on infra red instruments creating a huge aggressive sound scape, and he was supporting chalamagne palestine. how could this be a sign of a bad electronic music scene with work like this drawing in large crowds?

    search harder and stop complaining at something you clearly have actually probably have more or less grown out of.

  47. do clubbers/bouncers in melbourne really do crystal meth? I thought that shit was strictly for american crack heads.

  48. @ Anonymnous. What is Lightbox like? I still haven't got around to going to have a look.
    Gutted I missed Locodice under 300 thing as well.
    I just have to learn to avoid places like Fabric I think.

  49. unit 7 is a loss i mourn

    however omar s and dozzy donato in a 200 capacity corsica studios under a function one in june will everything this article wants

  50. @Greg. I went to see FlyLo/Kode9 there, I'd say it's an OK venue, it's difficult to tell.
    Flying Lotus has a strange mix of fans that wouldn't be at a usual club night, which is not a problem but made the night have much more of a 'gig' feel to it - the room was fairly empty before and after his set, and absolutely rammed during it, too busy.
    The soundsystem was OK, just about passable but sounded fairly dreadful with an empty room. The lights are good fun, but they just produce too much light - I like my venues to be as dark as possible and it always seemed just a bit too light which gave the whole place a slightly weird feel.
    It did has a nice outside area though.. plenty of space, which was needed as it got stupidly hot in there. Drinks were as pricey as always (£4 a bottle - urgh).

  51. @ greg: Lightbox is pretty cool. Lots of pretty LEDS all around, not as impressive as watergate (inevitable parrallels being drawn) but a nice club. Kode9 and Flying Lotus were great.

    The Loco Dice night was really one to remember for me. When everything unexpectedly comes together and feels just right...good sounds, good people, funk1, nice setting.

    I gave up Fabric after seeing Hawtin there a while back. Shame as I really want to catch Villalobos in London but can't stand the place (apart from room 3). Anyway, enough has been said about that place already...!

    @ Matt Kirk: I was at Unit 7 for the Gaiser night when the guy got shot outside (and club subsequently shut down). It was my first time there and had such a good night, what a sweat box though...

    Cant wait to see Donato Dozzy (never been corsica is it?) I have to thank the ssgs for raising my interest in him, that labyrinth set is something else.

    @ PC I'm enjoying the levels of debate you're creating this week. First this thread, then I read the Berg03 review thread hehe, v entertaining.


  52. @ anonymous one up

    i was at that gaiser night as well, and yeah first time. very frustrating to get such a good night you cant repeat. was on a first date at the time. trying to get with a girl when its so hot and sweaty your eyebrows are slipping off your face wasnt great.

    corsica is great - 200 people in each room that is also an exhibiton space, great soundsystem and a smoking area covered by a train track. resident drug dealers as well. always useful... june 12th. a fine way to celebrate my 21st

  53. i will have to write a proper reply to all of this later on, but i just have to say, it looks like the dozzy party in london is going to be one big ssg fest!

    i am pumped. coming to london for this baby. from what i heard, donato is opening the night, so get there early!

  54. hey P. just a few things. i went out a few weeks ago to see martyn s record release. he played together with kode 9 an amazing set. it was extremely intense and everybody had fun.BTW, I think we were the only ones who had just beer. it was fucking wednesday night and everyone was so AWAKE. ok there werre mostly touristst there. anyway, what hit me really hard was the fact, that after the martyn/kode 9 marecel dettmann tooke over the desks. and what happened ??? the people were confused like for 5 seconds and just kept on dancing. didn t they feel the difference? do people go to a club to listen to dubstep or any kind of music or do they just GO to a club no matter what kind of music is played
    also. i grew up on hip hip hop. word! and then neglected it after I grew olde. didn t like the crowd anymore. did not liek the style, did not like the shallow lyrics. a freind of mine called me a sell out ´cause i didi not listen to hip hop anymore. first i laughed at him, i know better now. it is not about the people, it is about the music. why spoiling your interst by people you don t like anyway??
    i listen to hip hop again. however, not as much as i used to , but still.
    my biggest concern ( well, there are bigger of course ) about future developpement is that people don t go to clubs to waste their minds and bodies, but to churches. berghain is not half as evil as ideologies!

  55. Corsica is a great little venue - the worst thing about it is trying to find the venue itself from the tube station. I picked up my tickets for Bleep a few days ago. I'm taking a mate who is fairly new to electronic music and clubbing in general and this will be his first time at a club that isnt Fabric.

    It's sad that Unit 7 shut down. I went there for a couple of MinimalHospital events and it was like London's very own DC10 at times.

  56. leave main tube exit - turn left, keep walking round. not remarkably hard..

  57. This is a really vivacious discussion, and it's amazing to see so many people open up about what clubbing/dance music really means to them on an internet forum!

    Pete this is a fantastically interesting post, but I do disagree. Maybe, having been nowhere near 90s rave culture, I just can't imagine the magic to be had back then. For me, however, finding lush electronic music at clubs, right here and now, seems palatably simple.

    I wonder if your comments, though probably accurate in a sense, don't suffer from a sort of foolish utopianism.

    Should we all be able to go round the corner, listen to our favourite DJ in Funktion 1 clarity, meet ten new mates there, and be home in time for a wank and a pot noodle?

    That we can't do this isn't quite what you're complaining about, but at times it comes close.

    I certainly see G's frustration: dance music doesn't have enough committed advocates. Pete what you're doing is, in a sense, a very committed form of advocacy.

    But it's an advocacy for a few fond memories from Tokyo, rather than a constructive critique that will allow us to better our experiences on the ground.

    Honestly, I seem to come away from everything you write with a deepened respect for your taste, insight, and dedication. But I was gutted after this.

  58. ''Gutted''! Jeez, people get so bloody emotive! Did somebody just die or something?

  59. a few more thoughts:

    i agree with a lot of what pete said. but. but i do think pete is jaded. when i first fell in love with techno all that mattered was the music. if there was a dj i wanted to see playing, i was there. and i'd deal with the rest. in recent years i've gotten old and need more. i have had too many nights with shitty sound systems, bad crowds, too many people in the venue etc... saying that, i still love going out. i hate it when i cant. it is part of the reason the last 6 months has sucked so much for me. i love the release of going out, hearing the music on a big rig and dancing. just dancing. of course it is better if all the stars are aligned, but they dont have to be for me to enjoy myself. i think it has reached the stage where pete needs an environment it is pretty much impossible to get in melbourne to satisfy him. so be it. that's ok. as should be evident, clearly that has not reduced his passion for the music, he is just relating to it in different ways.

    a few more thoughts:

    - the two big killers of the music for me are overcrowding and the loss of good venues.

    - it is very easy to forget that it is easy for us to complain about the right people not playing, but we are not the promoters putting forward the money. often the people we want to see most are just not financially viable to tour - this is especially the case for countries a long way from europe (ie australia).

    - this is a fantastic discussion. thanks to everyone for contributing.

  60. I know I've had plenty of arguments with you guys in the past but I just wanted to say here that drugs are not the be all and end all.

    On occasions it's good to go on a long party or whatever but you can have a great time in clubs just having a few beers.

    I think it's v easy to assume that everyone is massively wasted in clubs but actually there are a lot of people who don't do drugs...

    I also think that the actual dancing part of "dance music" is pretty big for a lot of people.

    Personally I really enjoy a club when it's going off, it's a rare chance for a shared experience and usually feeds back into enjoyment of the music.

    Another thing I would say is that I relate to this post in a way, but in my case I find I get negative feelings about the crowds/hassle of big clubs/busy nights which are usually inflated in my mind.

    It's v easy to be lazy about clubbing esp as you get older. But plenty of times when friends give me shit about staying in and I go along I realise it is actually still something I love.

    If you've any trace left of that Pete, or you had a trace of that back in the day, you should hold on to it for as long as possible.

  61. Yeah Pete there's a bit of a "Nowadays clubs are not as good as in Japan back in the day" to this post, but if I remember rightly you had exactly the same attitude back in the day in Japan! Deciding that you weren't going out anymore. Deciding that you'd had enough of clubbing. I even remember having to really twist your arm in 2006 to get you to go to Labyrinth because "it was a trance party" or some other crazy excuse. And then when you get there you had a good time. I'm sure exactly the same thing would happen today. Find you a pill and drag you out in Berlin I'm sure you'd have a good time in 2009, despite what you wrote here.

  62. Yeah I have given up on Fabric as well. Went to Villalobos there not the last but the time before. Was a total shit fight all night. People told me his set was good. I didn't notice because a spanish guy with glasses was grabbing my arse.
    @ Jamie TBH the lights at lightbox are what puts me off going as well. I like dark venues.
    Sigh. I just want a night with some good djs in a dark basement space with no more than 150 people. Too much to ask? Probably.

  63. @ many recent posts: I'd like to stress by way of a recap that this post is not necessarily 'about' my being jaded/cynical/old curmudgeon etc.... I include these details to lay bare my own prejudices, as I don't think it would be fair of me to rant against something I perceive as a broader problem without situating my part in it...

    ...and certainly, if everyone were like me, the parties would be awful, if there were parties... luckily, this is not so, but I digress

    ...there *are* also Melbourne factors at work here, no question. And I'm *not* saying that there aren't good nights to be had, that 'the drugs don't work', or that there isn't a space for hedonistic enjoyment...

    To clarify: 'dance music' as a specific way or modality of understanding and engaging in/with 'electronic music' is a model that got mmmassively commercialised throughout the 90s, stabilising in the late 90s into a form – which I call 'corporate raving' – which has come to be the dominant understanding of electronic music even until today.

    Two things about corporate raving:

    - it swallows and dominates the scenes, forcing, as the scene shrinks (which it has, I would argue), DJs who formerly had a profitable niche event/night/venue thang going on back onto their mercy....more of your 'favourite DJs' playing larger, shittier, more corporate venues to less discerning, more suburban crowds, crowds who (the second major point)

    - are more like a drug subculture that has a music soundtrack, rather than a music subculture that uses a lot of drugs.

    ...I think this stuff is all conjunctural, it changes according to time and place... I think the wave 'broke' a few years ago, and this is the backwash. hope is that 'we' (who?) can invent new performance models, new ways of understanding and engaging with 'electronic music' that aren't 'dance music'.

    I love electronic music. I hate dance music, especially what dance music has become.

  64. ....also, BTW: far be it from me to deny the munters their parties or to dictate that the Armin van Buuren-loving masses should all prefer to drink tea and listen to Shackleton. Of course they'd hate it and be bored. I accept that many people consider the music I love to be a very boring version of something that could be much more exciting... hope is only that there are lots of 'pockets', lots of niches, just as a good, biodiverse habitat in turn can provide lots of different niches for all the different animals to survive.

  65. just on a personal note, i am currently sitting drinking a cup of tea and listening to Shackleton.

    what a coincidence!

  66. Skull disco doom... and a nice cup of tea. A perfect combination...

  67. @ Greg:
    Sleeparchive/DJ Pete/Mark Ernestus at Plastic People on May the 7th. Small, very dark, nice system. I'm definitely old and jaded, but I still like it there.

  68. i am tired after reading all of that .... but i like and agree with this:

    "This has never diluted my passion for the music however, with blogs like this one and increasingly accessible vinyl keeping the love alive."

    in addition to.... things would not be so different if it wasn't for my tinnitus.....

    please take care of your hearing and be kind to the bogans.

  69. interesting for melbourne peoples...

    the konrad black /daniel dreier gig tonight has to close up at 3am because of anzac day or they're playing 11-1/1-3....which i think is way better and could make the party more awesome (of course i have to go away for the night so miss the party i was most looking forward to this year so far).

    so whoever goes can maybe let us know whether it works better than having it go till 7am with people getting wasted/tired or whatever...

  70. This is a pretty fun discussion. I just heard about the ssgs through Rayna's blog, and I must say that I am pleased. I think to despair over the current state of electronic music is an exercise in futility. Those who weren't a part of the rave days, although they missed out on a magical time, still have access to almost all of the music. If they get inspired to make music, new software makes the process way more accessible/affordable. Even if they can't match a beat, they can get a program to do it for them. This creates a much larger quagmire of utter shite to wade through, but finding that new sound from the unknown producer is what technophiles like me drool over. Clubbing in general has taken a hit, but is that just the perspective of an older scenester waiting to be inspired again? Can you still get out of the music what you once did?
    For me, that answer is a resounding YES. The cultural shift that has been taking place is just giving us some growing pains. I live in metro Detroit, and we have recently seen the loss of almost all of our vinyl outlets. Some, you even need an appointment to go to! As a dj of ten years, this makes for an interesting conundrum. I could spend ten times as much money and time to find a handful of records, or go online at work (like now) and pick up twenty new tracks off of a website. In this high speed connected world, it is almost a personal disservice not to take advantage of this resource. For those just getting into it, they will settle in and become one with whatever genre they naturally fall into. It just takes time. Sooner or later, we all become spotters. Nine out of ten people at a Detroit party are spotters. They are usually coked out of their gourds too. It always seems to lead back to a loft somewhere when the musical magic really starts to happen. You just have to be aware and assertive.
    As for talent, we get blessed with the DEMF every year, and I highly recommend the trip to anyone who has not made it yet. Noon to midnight for three days, with more afterparties than you can shake a stick at.
    @ Jamie : If you like your venues dark, Detroit is the place for you. We don't give a shit about light, unless it is streaming in through a window.

  71. i think this whole topic is much more in a rut than the music. sorry, but it's always the same kinda lamentations. i have the feeling that since the new millenium is here we are determined to think like that.

    and the thing is: I DON'T UNDERSTAND IT (the content and meaning of these discussions) ANYMORE! all those points have been repeated more than any "musical signifier" (btw: it's your problem if you listen to music like that) possibly could. it all arrived at some point of absolute blah for me. it's easy. it's done by journalists. they who are misanthropic in good way because they question. but cum on! open a club, start booking your GOOD MUSIC OF THE FUTURE if you don't see it around you. DO SOMETHING!

  72. @ Damn: we have opened a club. It's called mnml ssgs, and you're standing in it... and whingeing, which you're welcome to do. We have room for that, too.

    @ some of the recent posts: those who've been reading me carefully will note that I explicitly lay out my point of view both in the context of my own jadedness AND in the context of a period of immense freshness and potential in terms of electronic music's audiences and production. EPs, albums and mixes that I've listened to so far this year have been of an extremely high standard. Not only that, but there is incredible diversity and openness in the sounds... people have no difficulty contacting and collaborating with one another... something unthinkable in the 90s with the strictly policed divisions between genres, etc. Think of Ramadanman and Sven Wieseman, many of Scuba's remixes on Hotflush with Berghain peepz, or the forthcoming collaboration between Four Tet and Burial. key arguments (to recap again) are twofold:

    1) that, for the most part, 'we' are still operating with an understanding of electronic music as 'dance music', something that happens in clubs, on drugs, after midnight... dance music is played by DJs who appear specially, on Saturday nights, mostly flown in, and they're booked because they're names/brands... this is neither the most proper, natural, or necessary way of 'doing' electronic music.

    ...argument here is that 'electronic music' (broadly) has becmoe dependent on 'dance music (particularly) as a way of turning a dime. Electronic music is forced to nest in an environment which is about consumer culture and hedonism, an environment which is not necessarily about, for, or conducive to music.

    Second argument is: 'dance music', as a way of understanding and performing electronic music, was always a music scene with a strong interest in drugs. At some point, it has become a drug scene with a strong aesthetic with some interest in music... music is the background to a night of hedonism, undertaken with 'friends' (the friends of Justice/Simian's chorus mind) all of whom come together to get mashed on pills, coke, etc...

    @ Ghostcontrol: 90% spotters... mashed on coke... in a dark room... gee, where do I sign on for that one?

  73. "For it must be cried out, at a time when some have the audacity to neo-evangelize in the name of the ideal of a liberal democracy that has finally realized itself as the ideal of human history: never have violence, inequality, exclusion, famine, and thus economic oppression affected as many human beings in the history of the earth and of humanity. Instead of singing the advent of the ideal of liberal democracy and of the capitalist market in the euphoria of the end of history, instead of celebrating the ‘end of ideologies’ and the end of the great emancipatory discourses, let us never neglect this obvious macroscopic fact, made up of innumerable singular sites of suffering: no degree of progress allows one to ignore that never before, in absolute figures, have so many men, women and children been subjugated, starved or exterminated on the earth."

    Derrida 1994

  74. I think part of the problem is mixing/techno is an art .. and as such has to advance fairly rapidly to sustain interest .. this is especially true for machine/computer based arts ..

    for example I used to love sharp graphic design designed on computers .. used to love designing myself .. but it grows oldish and a bit frustrating .. I still appreciate it / understand it / watch it,.. but is not my passion anymore ..

    (I don't have one) but I imagine having a child would be endlessly involving .. as its not a dumb machine you have to push and pull to explore your own subconcious..

    having said that, though the heat is gone from it .. I still get a nice humm from mixing and certain techno.. (and a slight numb :] )

  75. @id303: eloquently put – my favourite comment of the year so far, ****1/2 stars.

    @ Noel: unusually lucid for Derrida... what's the significance for you though... desperately seeking sequitur... or... non?

  76. from the new idjut boys piece at RA:

    But these parties were different?

    CM: It was just a load of like-minded people who wanted to go out and have a good time. And that hasn't really translated all that well to now: Saturday night, you go out [you play records] and you're just a soundtrack to people's drug taking....I mean: you get people that go to nightclubs and just stand around: what the fuck are they there for? Or they'll come up [to you] and want to hear records that they've got: "Can you play that one, 'cos I know it?" And it's just like, "Why are you even here?"

    Are there exceptions to the rule?

    Both: Japan.

    Japan's always the first answer when you ask that question! What is it about playing there that's so special?

    DT: For us, it's amazing. We're really fortunate to be able to go and play there. We have a really great friend, Hagi, who's taken us all round Japan: from Yellow [in Tokyo] to the tiniest spots and it's all almost universally good: good sound, good people. If you're in the room where the music is, if you're in that part of the club, it's all about the sound and the dance. There's no standing around: people participate. And if you're playing there's this "call and response" thing going on, which is really nice.

    So it's the original disco formula: amazing sound systems and everyone dancing?

    CM: Yeah, but it's not based on drugs. It's based on music. And that's unique.

    DT: There's attention to detail at every turn, which has so many benefits: people don't go home deaf; you can hear things properly; it's comfortable for people to DJ. I mean, take the lighting guys: [If you're playing] in a club in Japan the lighting guy will be in tune—he won't be off powdering his nose [laughs]—he'll be listening to what's coming out of the speakers and reacting [to it]. Little things like that make such a big difference; it accentuates the highs and lows of what's randomly happening.

  77. @pc

    lucid yes, maybe it was the translator, and maybe I posted that quote because it's the only Derrida I can easily understand, but the more likely reason I posted it is because I can't help but think your blog might be inked in endism and I like the way that Derrida deals with endist perspectives... for solice, read some Derrida, who would have thought? :)

  78. @ noel: trust me, pete and i are most definitely not endist, quite the opposite. in my other life, i've spent quite a bit of time and energy attacking good ol' fukuyama. rather, we are suckers for nietzsche, amongst others...

  79. @ Noel: indeed... deconstruction is part of the point. In order to be able to 'think otherwise' about what was previous taken as a naturally given 'fact' - this is one part of what we want to do with these editorials... of course it comes from passion, from feeling something is 'X' to the point of wanting to say something about it.

    ...and as far as endism goes: read the piece again. What I'm arguing is more like the possibility of creative rebirth from a point of entropy... call it shedding the past...

  80. @chris and PC, yep I was trying to cover what is a relatively expansive idea developed over quite some time with a glib quote, I knew what I was thinking, I just don't have the patience to write it all down. I'll get back to you :)

  81. @ Noel: please do get back to us.

    Thank you all for a great debate, and stay tuned for pt II, where I ask some music nuts who love electronic music but don't go clubbing what they think of the sitch as it is.

  82. Im almost 30, I produce and release house music and used to DJ regularly. As a punter Im rather jaded with clubland so I try to stick to some basic rules.

    1. I try not to go anywhere where Ill have to queue for more than 5 or 10mins. If the queue is longer than that, then the club is likely too packed and there will be no space to dance, or they have some wank door policy where they make people queue, even while the club is empty, to give the impression that its busy and popular. If I desperately want to see an act, Ill get my name on the door or book tix in advance.

    2. I dont go anywhere that is known to serve warm beer. Im prepared to pay 4 quid for a bottle of becks in a club, but it better be ice cold.

    3. I dont go to clubs that only have hot water in the bathroom taps. Its greedy, and ultimately extremely unsafe to not offer people fresh drinkable tap water.

    4. I generally avoid any corporate sponsored outdoor day parties. If they have a banner for shoes in front of the decks or a brand/logo for a car or softdrink up everywhere, then in my experience the party is more about getting fucked up and looking cool in your italian sunglasses, than checking out some new music and meeting some like minded people.

    I find myself going to either small underground bar/clubs with local djs for a fiver, or to non-corporate outdoor multiple day/night festivals more and more these days.

    Alternative festivals such as Sonica in Italy, Voov/vuuv in Germany, Rainbow Serpent in Melbs and Boom in Portugal. + there are tonnes more in Europe and all over. The music can be a lot more psy/trance orientated at night but during the day they play some really cool shades of techno and they always serve cold beer in big cups for no more than 3€.

    The crowd is a lot more diverse and people actually seem to be enjoying themselves and its also easy to strike up conversations with randoms. At the same time there is ALOT of drug abuse at these places but when your outside in your own space with a reasonably priced bar, its really up to you as to how you want to enjoy it.

    I find I come away from these types of events very satisfied and musically energised and inspired. I often write my best tunes after such times.

  83. It's the same story as with any subculture: starts out interesting, gets re-assimilated by the mainstream, ends up a tiresome, diluted version of its former self, packaged for and consumed by clueless St Kilda wankers. Cf punk, hip hop, rave, etc etc etc

  84. It's a cycle. From starry-eyed to jaded. It happens with everybody, in every generation of dance music. It's not just the Ecstasy. Disco started out full of soul and community, and got turned into a corporate cult of wealth and ego. It's been going on for a long time and it never stops some new scene from coming out of nowhere with some new vibe full of happiness and wonder.

  85. Back in the days when I was a teenager
    Before I had status and before I had a pager
    You could find the abstract listening to hip hop
    My pops used to say, it reminded him of be-bop
    I said, well daddy dont you know that things go in cycles
    The way that bobby brown is just ampin like michael

  86. But what about Hawtin's new Twitter APP? I thought that was going to save the world?

  87. I have to admit, I have not read through everything that has been posted so far. I tend to both agree and disagree. Of course, during the 90s (which I have not experienced), the whole EDM thing was much less mainstreamy. How could it not have been? It was a culture in its beginnings. So there's where social innovators and boundary pushers could be found, folks not so receptive for glam-stuff, fashion trends and drug-taking for the sake of drug-taking. Anything is more authentic and hence probably cooler its early days.

    I like to compare such tendencies with the development of urban areas. Take London. There's the cool, artsy, hippie quarters like Shoreditch. The hippies and artists create an independent culture with their own stores, venues, theatres, galleries and so on. Gradually, the yuppies find out about, decide that it's cool and start to move there. And up go real estate prices/rents, new and fancy apartment buildings are constructed, then there are shopping malls, fancy restaurants and bistros, and at some point the place will have changed its face completely; the artists and hippies and all the cool stuff is gone.

    But where are they? They have moved further out, into some slummy, uncivilised area of the city, and they breathe life into that place. As result, you have more diversity: the new artists' quarter plus the old one. (Okay, sometimes the whole face of a city changes - NY is not the same as in the 70s, Vienna used to be really cool around 1900... - but that's just the same principle in macro; after all, Berlin was pretty shit in the 30s and 40s and long after, right?) And is it not such with EDM, too?

    I believe that what you observe is due to two things: mainstream has begun to colonise what used to be avantgarde, and hence avantgarde has become harder to find. And then - as is the way of life - you have aged a bit, and you like the avantgarde of your own wild days better than today's. Those who were at Woodstock still cherish their memory, and will surely look down upon your fond memories. Every generation at some point starts to stick to their own stuff as opposed to the stuff of their successors.

    When I go to Berlin, I set myself an early alarm on Sunday, go to Berghain/Panoramabar, maybe do some amphetamines, maybe not, dance for four or five hours and go home. There are wasted people, there are sober ones. There are dressed-up idiots (but not so many - go to Watergate if you consider yourself cool), there is casual wear, and there's the naked ones. The music has become richer, more to choose from - after all, there is good stuff coming out, and the old stuff does not disappear. There are institutions like your great website, which allows one to listen to quality shit at home. And clubs have become more differentiated, too.

    I also question your "economic soundness" criticism. Air travel is an ecological catastrophe, but any management consultant uses the plane as often as a DJ, and there are way more of the former than the latter. And btw, raising club entry prices by 10% could pay for a lot of the costs imposed on mother earth - it is only one plane ticket any many hundred clubbers. And the MDMA that's in your European pill comes possibly frome some ex-chemistry professor in the same country you're buying it, or from the Netherlands - same goes for Speed. I don't think that there is a big coke culture in clubbing and if so, it is not nearly as essential as chemically manufactured drugs. The Mexican drugwar is entirely US-induced and blame should be given to the US government. And, needless to say: barely anyone in LA knows of somebody like Robert Hood. They listen to hiphop. Blaming electronic music here seems a little far-fetched, doesn't it?

    After all, I agree in parts: I suppose if you went to a randomly selected EDM event ten years ago, it was better. The general consumerism is a standard consequence of cultural expansion. But another economic law holds: as the audience grows, specialisation pays off. And hence, I think: if you look hard, the you can find something more tailored to your tastes. And if you don't, well, then maybe you have grown out of fashion a little. Time to have kids ;-).

  88. @ Stefan: Well you're very lucky to live in the city that has one of the world's best clubs... no Berghain in... well, it's only in Berlin, isn't it.

    But you're right, maybe time to have kids... maybe the Berghain should put in one of those play rooms with all the balls like they have in Ikea. Then you could wake up, take baby, drop her off, have a dance with the other mums and dads... oh dear...

    on the gentrification thing: it's true that, to some extent, the ad-hoc, low budget, improv culture that developed post rave in the 90s has become the establishment (and corporatised), I guess the issue is not so much this ebb and flow so much as a rich ecosystem with plenty of niches, and a performance space for electronic music that can exist autonomously from clubs... but I'm not sure this is possible, viable, or even desired by many people

    ~ if most people don't perceive there's a problem, there's not really a problem... or is there? ~

    To schematize:

    sound art < - > gallery

    bands < - > live house

    DJs < - > clubs

    three stable models... electronic music mostly nests in clubs, occasionally in live houses and galleries....

    ...I'd like to see the development of a new kind of space... a fourth model, one that was not dependent on another activity that is not necessarily compatible with it... a way myspace is one such space, as are blogs... but imagine going to a room that was accoustically treated, where the whole building had been designed around the sound system (quality, not just quantity), and where the emphasis was on a three to five hour performance, during the evening...

    ...cinemas have no trouble doing this, this is not some weird utopia, I think....

    NB I'm not proposing this 'instead of', but 'in addition to'.

  89. I really think a huge factor is being missed here completely. Sex. The drugs, often times, and the late night parties and the hedonism, it all just comes down to sexuality, sexual release and getting laid. And dance music can not be seperated from sex i feel. Electronic music can. But as I once argued with someone, if it's not sexy I'm probably not going to like it.

    Additionally I feel like the other issue is what we call in the States, the "No Dicks Clause"(Didnt make it into the constitution). No one wants dicks at there parties. Dicks suck. They're just looking for a f*ck n a fight. But they have always been there. And they always will be.

    But I've never been to european club so idk really. I just hope once I get there there's still something to enjoy...

  90. ffs how many times do I have to read that dance music is dead or jaded or out of touch.

    Its ALWAYS ALWAYS wrong

    Here's the deal, dance music or a particular genre has a massive impact, becomes popular, becomes corrupted, shrinks back to the underground, rejuvenates repeat to infinity.

    If you're getting bored with one particular style, get into that, then when you are familiar go out to a party, take a few pills and bounce about, bingo you have a new love.

    There is nothing in your column that hasn't been said before, youre getting old, youre getting tired, you forgot how to enjoy the music.

    Youre dying!

  91. i'm 22, I've only experienced the new style and scene, and I don't think you're jaded. when I was a kid I thought the little snippets of ravey stuff I heard sounded stupid, now I'm totally bored with how stylish and rounded off current dance music is and getting kind of obsessed with discovering old hardcore and detroit techno tunes. I am totally excited about the future though. there is so much further that dance music can go and explore and once more people get bored it's gonna be amazing.


Say something constructive, bitte. Or if you're gonna take a swipe, at least sharpen your nails.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.