The scene. Do you know what the scene is? It’s… a story we agree to tell each other over, and over, ’til we forget that it’s a lie.
It’s a masquerade of bright colors and loud noises. Its victims are empty children and faithless mannequins. They hide what makes them human: intellectual adaptation, constructive passion, compassion, critical thought. Its victims drink and smoke away these needs, or suffocate them with self-absorbed mysticism, if they even feel them to begin with, fearful of a clash between happiness and meaning. These creatures seldom dare to dream beyond a wistful fantasy, but when they do dream it is of propagating the masquerade, of becoming a larger, heavier cog of self-defeat.
I can only describe my impressions of the first raves that I attended as magical places filled with heroes and fantasy creatures. It doesn’t matter that ravers in and around Minneapolis were forced to covert to club kids. The magic is not gone because some thing happened to the scene. The magic is gone because it was all in my head. Like any classically styled fantasy, the scene is a machine for escapism. Just like any classically styled fantasy, the only lesson that it has to offer is meta: ‘people are gluttons for escapism’.
But surely some significant item has changed. What happened to PLUR? People finally realized that it was a joke, is all. There have always been genre cliques, and bitterness and resentment between them. There have always been idiots in it just for the money and beasts in it just for the base pleasures. Being accepted for the way you dress and being ‘ell oh ell awkward and nerdy’ are trivialities, especially when every one wears what matches their clique and every one has a near eros level of adoration for Pokemon.
So why am I there? I’ve never partaken in recreational drugs. I’ve never taken a girl home after a show that I didn’t have an established friendship with previously. I haven’t even seriously pursued ‘playing out’. I can’t find much to respect about the general population of the thing. I’ve certainly some strong opinions, so I’m probably losing interest in studying it, and the magic is gone. What is left? A respect for powerful aesthetics and ritual that have much potential, but poor application and redundant direction.
All powerful organizations have them in some form or an other. Other music scenes have these too, but they typically lack free-form dance in present times, and I am over all less impressed with what I’ve seen. A comfort bias, per haps, too, but you can’t argue against the fact that they call this stuff ‘dance music’. In any case, the tools are not the problem. The problem is the base redundancy of partying to celebrate partying, of ritual to honor ritual, of dancing for dancing’s sake. This on its own is fine, but is detrimental as a foundation of a culture. There has to be a beneficial idea behind it in order for it to be of any lasting value. But, more specifically, what kind of ideas should be reinforced, and how can they compete with the present pseudo-meaning of rave-influenced dance parties? Well, lyrics and vocal quotes are a good start. We could throw out the tunes that talk about partying, intimacy-lacking sex, and intoxication. We could limit the playing of flighty, short-sighted love songs and the like.
Bold Socrate’s ether-body, what do we have left!? As a lover of gabber/hard core/dark core and all of that distorted bass drum music, I can tell you that there are at least artists within that clique who are already choosing to sample thought-provoking quotes. As an artist within the genre my self, I have recorded my own voice speaking on philosophical issues plenty of times, but of course meaningful words in dance music are few and far between. Artists have the power to change this. This would be the easiest change, and might not even be that noticeable to many party-goers. A greater feat would be to have the artists and DJs establish their own distinct voices, and having the parties, their selves, be about a specific message. Interrupting the music with a formal speech or discussion is likely to be a big change in the flow of these events, but, then again, it wouldn’t be the first time that non-music performances have occurred at these events.
The greatest two obstacles are tradition and a desire to have a these parties be a place to unwind from all things critical-thought and responsibility related, but it’s not like any one actually consciously prefers a meaningless life. The trick, like that of all nonviolent cultural movements, is proper packaging, smooth transition, and maintaining a sense of belonging.
As indulgent as the rave/club/dance scene is, I feel more comforted by the idea of pushing this change here than any where else. These people clearly want some thing to believe in and belong to that feels like a family. This is where I would like to see these changes first, but it could happen to any music scene, to other subcultures, and spread throughout entertainment, which is the same problem on a grander scale. Entertainment in general is circular, providing fun things that serve no other purpose. There are films and books and lyrics with powerful and beneficial meaning, but the majority is raised to see it as secondary, as supporting the entertainment in stead of the other way around. Aesthetics is a philosophical study because of the idea that the best art is virtuous art. In other words, it is art that serves to improve the relationships and purposes in people’s lives beyond the level of simply being pleasurable.
Can it happen? Will most people be for ever too basic to be brought to care until the human gene pool is drastically improved? I plan to live for ever, so we’ll see.