Is It Time Dance Music Became Political?
As we get ready to usher in the new President-elect Donald J. Trump in 2017, it's hard not to notice the country's rapidly changing political environment. With dance music rooted in inclusion, is it time that electronic music made itself more political?This article originally appeared on Insomniac
What a morbid, infuriating and depressing year we’ve all endured. Were it not bad enough that we had to bid a premature farewell to David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, and disco godfather David Mancuso, we’ve had to watch in horror as the nation mercilessly tore itself apart over conflicting views of a better tomorrow.
Depending on what side you’re on (and if you’re reading this, we assume you were firmly against one side, if not firmly supporting the other), you were either visibly convulsing at how things turned out or giddy about the staggering spread of uncertainty facing this country—and indeed, the human race. I’m going to forcibly stop myself from launching headstrong into a tirade of political vitriol, but I am going to wonder if it would even be beneficial to the scene for me to do so.
Dance music is, at its very core, a form of countercultural protest. The origins of the scene lie in creating a safe space for the gay black community to express themselves and feel safe from the societal oppression they faced in the US in ‘70s and ‘80s. In clubs like the Loft, Paradise Garage and Studio 54, the LGBTQ community, as well as the largely marginalized African-American and Puerto Rican communities, could throw off the shackles that bound them from expressing themselves and lose it to disco and proto-house music. But rather than being political itself, that scene was a safe haven for people to escape the politics that shaped and hindered their everyday life.
When acid house hit the shores of the UK in the late ‘80s it was quickly adopted by the working classes largely left behind by the cutthroat, loadsamoney brand of Thatcherite politics that had defined the decade. While you might not have had a job and lived in an economically depressed area, raving was an outlet for you to forget about all that shit and enjoy yourself. The scene was mobilized in 1994 to battle the notorious Criminal Justice Bill, with mass protests and renegade free parties being thrown in London—but aside from that, it was largely about hedonism and fun for all