As the Northern hemisphere wades into the thawing pool of Springtime rejoice, the Sun's soothing rays of renewal provide the after hour denizens of Club World a chance to reflect on their somewhat difficult relationship with Mother Nature. On the one hand, it's always more pleasant doing the 'walk of shame' home from your local when the birds are chirping, the sky presents nothing but blue and there's a warm breeze upon one's face. On the other hand, there's that gnawing sensation in your stomach - no, it's not the lack of solid food that's causing this feeling, it's your inner eight-year old talking; you know, that lil voice one that's saying 'Let's get outside and play and enjoy the day and be merry and gay!'. You realize that, even if you only nap for a few hours (thus giving yourself a chance to actually see daylight when you open your grimy eyelids), you'll be unable to get up off your coach to lie down on the pavement outside, let alone engage in a fun stroll through the park (uggghh - screaming children… ughhhhh).
This, gentle readers, is known as the After-hours Sunshine Regret Syndrome. And I, Ranty McRant himself, dedicate this month's column to all who suffer from this dreaded Clubbing consequence.
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Random Missives From the UnderBelly Massive
by Ranty McRant: 05-17-2001

As the Northern hemisphere wades into the thawing pool of Springtime rejoice, the Sun's soothing rays of renewal provide the after hour denizens of Club World a chance to reflect on their somewhat difficult relationship with Mother Nature. On the one hand, it's always more pleasant doing the 'walk of shame' home from your local when the birds are chirping, the sky presents nothing but blue and there's a warm breeze upon one's face. On the other hand, there's that gnawing sensation in your stomach - no, it's not the lack of solid food that's causing this feeling, it's your inner eight-year old talking; you know, that lil voice one that's saying 'Let's get outside and play and enjoy the day and be merry and gay!'. You realize that, even if you only nap for a few hours (thus giving yourself a chance to actually see daylight when you open your grimy eyelids), you'll be unable to get up off your coach to lie down on the pavement outside, let alone engage in a fun stroll through the park (uggghh - screaming children… ughhhhh).
This, gentle readers, is known as the After-hours Sunshine Regret Syndrome. And I, Ranty McRant himself, dedicate this month's column to all who suffer from this dreaded Clubbing consequence.

The Cultural Cleansers Claim Another Super Club

This item began it's life as a critical report on the heat New York Mecca Twilo had received from the 'highbrow' and tabloid press regarding it's decision to hire a private ambulance service for their weekend festivities. Despite the fact that rock concerts and sporting events have the same precautions in place, and for the same rationale (to protect people from themselves and ensure that a serious condition is dealt with in a decisive and hurried fashion), the press took this safety measure as another verification of their smear campaign regarding 'the unholy business' taking place within the club's confines. Around the start of May, both the NY Times and the Post ran at least three articles that outlined the nefarious activities of the club's patrons and the supposed 'cover-up' measures taken by security (including the warehousing of OD victims in a back room) to avoid having to engage the dreaded '911' call, with all that entailed.
Where accurate reporting and the concept of one's own acceptance of personal responsibility went when these articles were printed, no one can say for certain.
What IS certain is that, nary a week after this latest round of Mayor Giulliani-backed propaganda hit the coffee tables of the suburban set, the 'nuisance' known as Twilo was raided by the NYPD, cleared of it's patrons (and DJ Junior Vasquez) and had padlocks placed on it's front doors.
And so another chapter in the further demonization of club land had begun, with the adolescent-minded tales of Youth Gone Wild and 'excessive excess' providing fresh ammunition for another hypocritical serving of law n' order spine-stiffening social adjustment.
The two major legal points that led to the shutdown were (apparently):

i) Twilo had put DJ booths in the bathrooms without getting them approved by the fire
department, and
ii) Apparently their cabaret license was under the name Sound Factory (it's old name) rather than Twilo.

As any gentle reader out there with knowledge of legal obfuscation will already know, the City of Nu Yawk plans to delay the proceedings for as long as possible in the hopes of bankrupting the club's legal resources and discouraging it's motley band of hopeful merry makers. Mayor Giulliani wants to make his last term in office a memorable one by discrediting the claim that his city is home to a vibrant youth-driven culture that doesn't involve sports team worship.

The whole debacle calls to mind the current trial taking place in New Orleans, regarding a rave promotion company being charged with (essentially) acting as a 'operations front' for drug dealing and abusing - using the antiquated 'Crack House' laws of the 1980s in conjunction with this case gives the prosecutors a very powerful P.R. tool with which to belittle the entire electronic dance community.
In New York, the local cops don't need to turn to such tactics to achieve their desired goal. And why is that? Well, they have a journalistic community that has grown tired of reporting about the massive education and housing crises that grip their city, who are just waiting to be fed some sexy 'public safety' material to regurgitate to the closed-minded middle class of fair Gotham.

*Sigh*

I posted the following letter on the Twilo message board (where, occasionally, an actual, real debate of merit and substance pops up) - it sums up my views concerning the 'rock and a hard place' situation this 'rawk'n' hard space' has found itself in:

Bridges were burned a long time ago.

The trenches have been dug and fortified with incendiary commentary and righteous indignation.

But no-one on the 'outside' looking in can really determine what is happening behind closed municipal doors, what deals have been struck in the past to keep the club afloat, whose 'pound of flesh' was extracted in order to keep this once-uneasy truce from collapsing into an uncivil war of affidavits and counter suits.

The entire Peter Gatien/Limelight debacle of the late 80s and early 90s should serve as a warning to those Twiloites who believe their 'home' has outgrown the restrictive confines of petty local squabbling and Upper West side matriarchal hand-wringing.

But how long can one destination hold out against the twin tides of massive underground success and the inevitable over ground backlash of attention that accompanies this phenomenon?

A fellow submitter on another forum brought up the hypocritical parallels between 'regular' rave-style parties and the massive gay circuit affairs - how the former are being brought down by the reintroduction of 'crack-house' laws (see: New Orleans) whilst the latter are actively recruited by larger cosmopolitan cities (see: Cape Town) due to the tourist 'knock-on' economic effect.

Put another way, Middle Class Suburban American is fine with people gathering in darkened, booming chambers, doing narcotics and having sex in porto-poties - just so long as it's some wretched promiscuous homosexuals and not their beloved, impressionable children.

But this where my point (finally) comes into play: some friends of mine attended the HUGE, municipally backed Black & Blue party in Montreal last year (this city has several after-hours clubs but the police are more openly corrupt than in other large towns). In all of the washroom stalls at the Olympic Stadium there were large signs posted that dealt with the reality of the situation: these posters described which drugs were harmful in combination with each other, what to do if you were overheating, etc. etc. The organizing committee also held seminars before the event (as part of the general pre-party festivities) that educated people about the rules of 'safe partying'.

Looking at the stance that the Times et al., have taken, it would be political suicide for Twilo to come out and adopt such constructive measures - but it truly is the only realistic way of dealing with the actual nature of clubbing and it's associated activities. As another submitter mentioned, there can only be real progress when the truth is revealed.

And here are some truths: as the TwiloBoss mentioned, the average age of the Twilo-goer is much higher than 19; the average age of those needing the ambulance service even higher. These are ADULTS engaged in adult behavior - the same fundamental 'right' that is given to those attending rock concerts and football games (where, to beat a dead horse, ambulances are at the ready due to municipal proclamation). The 'chill-out chamber' is a direct result of the political pressures on the club - not having the ability to educate and inform the great many 'visitors' to Twilo about safe practices, in combination with the reality that many of these visitors do not want to be taken to a hospital, means that the club is faced with a no-win situation.

The optics certainly leave a great deal to be desired, and the subsequent consequences of this 'tabloid' situation lead to increased security scrutiny, rumors of club misconduct, the inevitable 'shut-down' paranoia.

Until North America (and most of Europe, for that matter) begins to adopt a Dutch approach to adult activities and pastimes, then the Underground Massive must be prepared to withstand the slings and arrows of political misfortune. The sight of dog-sniffing patrons upon entry into a major English club a few years ago was enough to convince me of the daunting task that lies ahead.

We do not want our options taken away - a return to the days of invading unused warehouses with a generator, decks and speakers is just not feasible anymore. The intensity and passion of clubbing cannot be confined to the outer reaches of 'fringe culture' any longer.

A Storming of the Bastille is in order, Twiloites - but beware of the Giulliani Guillotine.

Yours in Beatz,

R.McR.

The Residents' Lament

Now it's time to turn my rather frazzled attention to another distressing situation, which concerns what I consider to be the confining, restrictive, soul-sapping and seemingly unavoidable Fate of the 'Unknown Deck-Soldier', a.k.a. that guy or gal who spins wax at your local footloose establishment every weekend in order to facilitate your dancing pleasure.

Having had a chance to get to experience a great number of talented DJs from 'around my way', and having had the opportunity to converse with a few of them about the music and 'scene' which they are such an integral part of, it's clear that their Lot is fraught with bittersweet melancholy. On the one hand, they get a chance to spin records for the pleasure of an adoring dance floor - the only problem is that they'll adore you for playing what they (collectively) would like to hear.

The explosion of dance music's reach across the radio airwaves has finally landed in North America on a large scale, after having been firmly embedded in popular European culture for quite some time. And while this attracts more people initially to the various sounds of electronic music, it is also, by its commercial nature, the kind of watered-down cookie-cutter pop music that underground dance music detests. In short, the regulars want the resident to play the familiar; that 'oh! I know this song!' desire can be traced to the enthusiastic yet cautious zeal of the recently converted - and one must seriously question whether any other worldwide cultural 'entity' has gained more new converts in the past decade than the clubbing phenomenon.

And so the situation arises (especially in larger clubs with a 10pm-2am drinking clientele to entertain) whereby the commercial radio beats lure the 'adventurous' novices into checking out a club - but if they don't 'relate' to what they're hearing, then the club will lose a bundle at the bar.
And thus we have the Rezzie's paradox: you get to play, only you're not allowed to spin what your tastes and passion dictate - it's a dance floor dictatorship, run by a small number of Multinational groups who supply the dance-pop radio (and music video TV) groups with pre-fab Venga Boys-ish drivel.
It's not even about restricting a decknition's ability to 'educate' their audience - it's about removing entirely their ability to get an enthusiastic crowd moving to a rarer, more 'intelligent' strain of booty-shaking beats, in spite of their own notions of what they consider 'danceable' tunes ("Heeeeeeeeyyyy, why hasn't he played 'One More Time' yeeeeeeeet?"). Rare indeed (and exceedingly lucky to boot) are the local, "warm-up" DJs who are able to hold down a residency whilst being able to spin their own 'personal' set, their own 'sund', their own ideas of what constitutes "proper" dance floor material.

And then there's the bit that really sticks in a Rezzie's craw - the moment a Special Guest Superstar gets behind the wheels of steel. For when the Imported Help jets into town, causing line-ups to swell and sending Door Queens to even greater heights of imperious bitchiness, the Rezzie must have to endure witnessing a shift in the entire mindset of "his" crowd. Tracks that perhaps the Rezzie had wanted to play but was concerned about their 'suitability' for the club are trotted out one after one by Mr. Slick, with each record getting a bigger reaction then the last.

I think the words of a local DJ (who is a seasoned fixture in my city's house scene, since back in the early 80s) express this depressing situation:

What kills me is that a lot of the times us local DJs have a hard time playing what we like, but then when an international DJ plays here, they eat up pretty much everything he serves... allowing him to get away with murder, while we must appease the dregs on the floor who are conditioned by [Commercial radio] and other outside forces. It's partly for this reason that I refuse gigs now... after years of having 3-5 residencies a week. Granted, I'm not against meeting the crowd in the middle, so to speak, and playing stuff to make them party... as well as sneaking in a few songs just for me.

But that 'centrist' way of thinking is rarely met by the clubbers who attend a 'regular' night out on the town of any big club in North America. And so, dear reader, please take heed of your local Rezzie's plight, and for Gawd's sakes give them an opportunity to escape from the shackles of conformity and let their musical imagination run wild - who knows, you just might lose a few restrictive viewpoints in the process.

And Finally (In a Related Vein to the Above Commentary): Nothing Ever Stays Sacred

If ever there was any doubt that the house music template was just as susceptible as trance to the awful cheeze-ification that accompanies a genre's popularization, then Lionel Ritchie's grindingly awful 'Angel' should provide a stinging rebuke to such a notion - as a well as a reminder that the importance of the Underground's innovative integrity cannot be overestimated.
Of course, trance is still saddled with the terrible knowledge that it's inherent musical potential for over-emotive exuberance has led to the nursery rhyme atrocities of Eiffel 65 and DJ Mario compilations.
Sheesh - what a feeling of hopelessness one feels when faced with such an onslaught of assembly-line awfulness … why, it's almost enough to make a serotonin-depressed club victim weep.

And so, dear readers, as the summertime rolls into high gear and the Massive prepares itself for another Silly Season in the Sun, let all of us, sister and brother, clubber and raver, monger and gurner, join hands across the petty distances of time and space and raise our voices as one in a reasonably spiritual fashion and sing:

"We're here for a good time
Not a long time
So have a good time
The sun can't shine every day"

(Thanks to Trooper for the inspirational lyrics)

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