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Whose scene is it anyway?

What is the value of a culture, or scene? Who does it belong to? Can it belong to someone? Is there any reason to be concerned?

5 May 2002

With more events than ever before, more DJs, more music styles, more clubs, more media, more marketing, more record shops, more of everything related to Dance. My own feelings are; where is all that vibe, that common feeling, the togetherness, the magic that the dance scene used to have ... ?

I know for a start that it is hardly a scene or a crew, it is an Industry. Anyone with the 'mind' can make a viable living as a DJ. Any Promoter can use one of many dedicated clubs, radio stations, or Media to make good business.

Money alone is an incentive to be involved with Dance; you don't even have to pretend you are interested in the music because it can be treated as a product.

This could be part of the reason I don't 'feel it' any more. Profits, product, media, marketing control are all ideas that I sensed the early dance scene rejected.

However being part of the engine that drove Dance toward being an entity that could pay for those who worked within it, I do not feel that capital gains is the only reason that 'stands me back' from the dance floor today.

The idea of all night flashing lights and loud environments does make me a bit apprehensive nowadays. Listening to weekend after weekend of music has fine-tuned my ears to what sort of noise I really like.

I am however still within my generation bandwidth. So dance should still make sense to me, and it does. My senses identify with Dance first, it is my 'politic' and my 'culture'.

I want to question the soul of dance. As a basic, where do I go when I want to "listen", what do I do when I need more than 'uplifting'?

I often get the feeling that dance believes that its single purpose is to intensify, progress, hype, build up. A breakdown is only necessary to justify the next build up. I have seen dancefloors completely reject music that does not follow the formula.

Perhaps it is just good old apathy. Our desire not to rock boats, to keep it simple, which in turn defaults us to 'popular' or 'lowest common denominator' thinking.

I have always wanted a scene that has dynamic, depth, richness, emotion, and quality. From this I gain an experience of value. This in turn, augments my life, provides perspective and purpose. Music has this ability; it is a very powerful medium.

How and why then do we often end up with your average club experience, that most people need 'extra stimulation to even to enjoy.

The DJ has something to answer for. Within the industry the DJ makes the choice of what we hear. I believe that most DJ's do not take risk, lack a basic musical understanding, and lack History. Some DJs know and just don't 'give-a-care any more. With other DJs we can celebrate in their complete innocence to this whole process.

Today a DJ often has a better understanding about marketing than music. As a generation we respond well to good marketing, our trust in things is often measured by the marketing.

So the skill of a DJ can be in the shirt they choose to wear or the style of alcohol they consume. They are the icons of excellent party attributes, em-powered by their role as the music selector.

So following this, it is the responsibility of the promoter to select good icons. Their motive is built by their reason for being a promoter. It could be money, music or just a damn good time.

Altogether though the existence of promoters and DJs has no context without an audience. It is the audience's responsibility to support and endorse the entire process.

Common feeling ? Vibe ? It just seems so abstracted from the reality of the dance scene I'm talking about. Dance culture has become a 'demographic'.

Dance culture has become an identifiable commodity for everyone under the age of 25. There is no magic in TV ads and nightclub cues. It is accountable.

There is no need for magic; it has been discarded for us.

The music is fuel for cash engines. The DJ is the 'fool' in the court hedonism, the dance floor has no-ritual, the artist is a factory and we are now a welfare culture. The market will dictate to us what we are.

Our 'scene' our 'culture' is being re-formatted for us and then sold back to us at a recommended retail price.

This is I guess, what we want at the moment. It is accepted, encouraged even appreciated by people. We understand it and we can justify it.

I believe we have let our scene, our culture, and our history, our ideas and our identity be exploited. We 'were' innocent, now we are just apathetic.

Then again, this leads back to the question ... Whose scene is it anyway?