It's 2019. Spring promises its annual fruits. Soulwax releases a remix of Marie Davidson, 'Work It'. Just like with Gossip's 'Standing In The Way Of Control' twelve years earlier, the remix lifts an already existing club hit to mainstream status. You couldn't walk on a dance floor in the Netherlands and Belgium without hearing it sooner or later. It's 2020. Spring is silent. After three months without dance evenings or festivals, I'm starting to wonder what that means for (the experience of) dance music. Sure, we'll keep listening to Four Tet or Caribou. But will productions that rely more on energy on the dance floor than actual composition make it through the fall? Would the 'Work It' remix also be a hit for Soulwax had it been released this year?
Krystal Klear's 'Future Fantasy' pops into my head. And not just because of the appropriate name. With 'Neutron Dance', the Irish producer had one of the biggest floor burners of 2018. All subsequent releases and remixes also found their way to the masses. 'Future Fantasy' released in April, has all the familiar Krystal Klear elements (against Italo abrasive straight-up disco with a Stranger Things meets Dark back to the future appeal), but couldn't run a piss-up in a brewery.
It's nice to see a lot of things moving again. Sun-drenched terraces. Concerts for thirty chosen ones. Finally got to see Honey Boy at the movie theater. Or Interstellar again with a handful of people in room 1 of the Rembrandt Theater. But the reopening of nightlife is probably another year away. Will we pick up everything again as if it's March 2019? Do people think it's cool to still hear that Krystal Klear? I don't think so. At least not massively. Momentum gone. Hit potential gone.
It explains why in addition to bands (who cannot follow a release with a tour), many producers also release little to none. As a DJ I am fully conditioned to scour the net for new material for my sets in the run-up to the weekend. From hits in the making to signature songs that (you hope) only you play. It's no exaggeration that I've done that (excluding two two-week vacations) for every weekend since I was seventeen for twenty-seven years.
In times of covid, only the mood of the day appears to determine my listening behavior. An hour of 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised' on repeat after seeing all the sadness in America. A whole day of Japanese music after seeing an old Kore-Eda movie. A whole week of dubbing which song by The Smiths should be in the next pop quiz. Yes, I am indeed unemployed.
That brings me back to the night again. Are there any DJs left when the nightlife finally reopens? And I don't mean the people who already had a job and have always enjoyed it next to it, but just, DJs. Anyone who - like another opens a shop and yet another wears a well-deserved stethoscope after years of study - has put everything aside to make his or her greatest wish come true. Where will we all be when the office lights go out and the smoke machines are on?
My DJ friends who have families are already applying for other jobs. Young, up-and-coming DJs saw their moment disappear and live with their parents again. The DJs who have had the privilege of putting something aside live on the pension that they have gathered themselves. A full head of hair, living every day strolling past Utrecht's canals like it's no different. This is what privilege will look like in the summer of 2020.
Shoutout to all of my colleagues.
And all the prematurely dead hits.
Yet there is hope. On the seventh day, the Big Bang created the five primordial necessities. The need to take good care of the elderly. The need to speak out against injustice. The need to exercise. The need to put the tag back on someone's collar. And the need to dance. The latter will prove to be the most persistent.
Things are going to change. Pumps with disinfectant gel next to the cabinets with earplugs and vending machines with ponchos. No more grabbing from the same box of candy hearts after going to the bathroom. But no fear of contamination will be able to separate the homo saltatio from their dance floor. Because dancing is more than fun. You dance on the floor. Under pressure. You dance on the floor. It's fighting a losing battle, but at least it's under the rainbow.
“Sweat, dripping down your balls.”
– Marie Davidson