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
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
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.
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
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'
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
A Storming of the Bastille is in order, Twiloites - but beware
of the Giulliani Guillotine.
Yours in Beatz,
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
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
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
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
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.
Finally (In a Related Vein to the Above Commentary): Nothing Ever
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
"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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