Thru the Eye of Obscure

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Generation shift?
Electronic culture and dance floors.

A culture breed in the need for identification away from the mainstream. An educated group seeking the new urban lifestyle. Collected into dividing sub groups of taste and preference, people identify themselves in codes of speech, combinations of dress, selection of beverage. Further by choice of café, favourite drug and financial viability of all these factors. The final identifying mark bringing each sub group together, music. Electronic dance music.

Information like this is a common understanding of a culture born of the underground. So in its quick embrace of commercial success, where is it going?

In this country today here it stands, one foot on either side of a fence. A continual thirst for new concepts has led dance culture in New Zealand into a world once loathed by it self. The battle line has been drawn across the face of media recognition, commercial viability and the irresponsible passions of the underground.

A culture once proud to be at home in a dirty warehouse with D.I.Y production has transformed into the ease of club culture and formula hype. This has been a logical and partly forced transition. Clubs culture is much more applicable to the modern working lifestyle. Securing venues, production needs and costs can be done safely in advance. Public interest and marketing for events becomes more predictable. To the paying customer quality and expectations of events are familiar, less chance of a night gone wrong.

Events moving against the trend face problems on all levels of production. Venues are costly and difficult to find with out strings attached. Production costs are higher and problems more likely to be encountered. Advertising becomes tricky under the balance of unpredictable elements. To guarantee your event to public, create belief in unknown quantities, is difficult. The paying customer can be more sceptical, or find the whole enviroment intimidating. Troubles overcome though create a dynamic event.

Here becomes the interesting problem. While club culture has great merits and is responsible for a regular scene today. It lacks the energy and vitality of the true underground.

Club culture with events of House, Techno and Drum & Bass featuring local and international DJ's, still claims to be of the underground nature. While in a sense this is true, most of these events will rarely step in to experimental zones, part of the essence of underground. The whole enviroment of clubs is built around business goals, it is not sensible to risk these goals for an full artistic experience.

The dance floor of today was built by elements that pushed the boundaries. Environments and music that challenged the mind, that involved conceptual risk. Within the risk however, the chance of a unique experience was created, an unknown quantity. This edge is the level of excitement that creates interest and curiosity, a desire for more

Club culture uses hype to create the illusion of the 'unique experience', feeding curiosity for people to attend the events. While the true mind of the public are well aware of what to expect. This is not completely undesirable but it has diluted the original mystic of dance culture. To not believe the hype of an international DJ removes the illusion for what will be a formula night of entertainment. So while Clubs provide safe and reliable access to dance culture, it should not forget it's roots and driving force, the more unpredictable and obscure sounds of the underground. For growth the public should also be educated beyond the hype. Ultimately Clubs should continue towards commercial success and the underground should return to it's true home, and never should their path become entangled again.

Besides one needs the other, the other does not!

-Si K