Dance, dance, dance
Just received this email for an upcoming party in SF:
Friday, March 5th
314 11th Street at Folsom, San Francisco
Live Performances from
DJ's Disco Shawn and Mon Amie
An Evening of Booty Jams for the Rock Kids
B-Girl Anthems, Ghetto Trax, Old School Electro, Motown, & Funk Punk
Bump and Grind to artists like...
Salt N' Pepa/Afrika Bambaataa/ESG/Outkast/Technotronic/Chingy/
JJ Fad/Ludacris/L'Trimm/Le Tigre/DFA/Kelis/NWA/LL Cool J/James Brown
The Clash (only the disco shit)/Snoop/Dre/Grandmaster Flash/
Jackson 5/Fanny Pack & and a whole lot of other shiznit to get yo emaciated indie
ass groovin on the dance floor.
*Disclaimer: This evening will not contain difficult, challenging, or
esoteric music--this is a straight up dance revolution."
Have to admit, the whole thing stumps me a bit. Leaving aside the (ironic? unintentional?) racial reference hidden in the title -- because, let's not beat around the push, push, in the bush, this is black music for a white crowd -- what is it all about? More and more lately, it seems like I'm seeing indie/rock fans (or "kids," if you must) espousing the virutes of "booty jams" and the like. Which is great! I'm glad that folks are going out and getting swervy to good music of whatever stripe. But what puzzles me are the constraints and the aporia in the above list of records and artists to be spun.
How do the lines get drawn? Mainstream hip hop is in, old school hip hop is in, electro, funk/R&B, funk punk, dub rock, mainstream disco - all represented. Most of the artists are black, save for the white "dance rock" acts that represent the canon: The Clash, DFA, Le Tigre. Nothing wrong, of course, with white folk listening to black music, nor with setting aside one's collection of (mostly white) rock tunes for an evening of (mostly black) funk/hip hop/etc.
I'm curious, though, in the exclusion of any sort of house and techno. Maybe I'm just a sad old booster, but I'm baffled by the idea of a "straight up dance revolution" that ignores house and techno, two of the major contemporary genres of dance music. I know that indie kids tend to distrust house and techno, and perhaps in a context like this -- with a song-oriented playlist at varying tempos -- a set of 4/4 music wouldn't really work. But I can't help but suspect there's something else going on, a submerged set of preconceptions that's unflattering to house/techno and hip hop/funk alike.
(I still can't get out of my head the time that I gave a copy of my beloved Recloose's CD to a white indie rocker friend. "It's ok," she shrugged a few days later. "Sounds like something they'd play in a gay, black disco though." As though, you know, that were a problem. Dude, where do you think disco was born?)
Somewhere, somehow, in the collision of what gets included and what gets ignored, there's a logic at work. Funk is fetishized; fun is fetishized. The whole summer-vacation feel of the announcement -- that no "difficult, challenging, or esoteric music" will be played -- leads to my distrust. So this is a night off from the rigors of... Black Dice? Wolf Eyes?
I'm also sort of flummoxed that this is a night "of booty jams for the rock kids." What about the hip hop kids? Are they off throwing an indie rock party that night? Someone like Hollertronix, Z-Trip -- they bring folks of all stripes together. But the promoteres seem to want to keep this party segregated. If you ain't white, skinny, and wearing a torn blazer, you know, maybe you'd better move down the street, where the real hip hop party is. This is just, you know, a joke.
I note there's also no dancehall or grime in the list; mildly surprising, but not really. I think what I'm trying to identify is a kind of aura of reception around the musics included above -- a shared, and agreed-upon set of assumptions within a certain circle. And I really want to figure out how that works. Grime and dancehall, I would assume, are excluded because they're not perceived to be funny or kitschy in the same way as "old school booty rap" and other popular choices in Friendster profiles. (Shame they haven't seen Elephant Man, then -- they're missing out on some serious comedy, from what I've heard of his live shows.)
Or maybe I'm just a curmudgeon and I'm pissed that there won't be any house and techno and I'm jealous that all the cute indie rockers go to stuff like this but never the parties that I throw. Hey, that could be it. I never said I was a role model. But I don't think so. If anyone has similar thoughts, chime in below. And of course, if I'm off my rocker, feel free to let me know (gently, please, gently!).