Am I the only one? I can’t be can I?
I mean, it seemed to me that COVID was a clear disaster for everyone but the very rich, but if there was one redeeming feature it was some sort of reset. A chance to fix what is broken. I had a, granted, slightly romantic vision of a new dawn. People remembering our roots as a protest movement. A realisation that the top 1% of our biz were no different to the top 1% of society stuffing everything into their pockets and leaving nothing for the rest of us. A guilt about the air miles and carbon footprint of what we do. A sense that the economics of our biz had run out of control somewhat. A chance to instil real diversity into things instead of just lip service. Most of all, at least some kind of logistical plan about coping with the virus had to be around? All utopian dreams aside, where is the discussion about how we DEAL with this thing? Measures. Dialogue. Science. Logistics. Solutions. Where are they? If this thing is showing us anything it is that we are comprehensively headless. Not merely as an industry but as a society. Led by chancers only out to line their own pockets. There is no ideology anymore, only commerce.
Am I the only one who just looked-on utterly horrified at the Plague Rave DJs? I can’t be. In a sense, the homegrown plague raves lockdowned kids were having didn’t seem nearly quite so awful as the mega rich DJs jetting all over the world spreading COVID for cash. Let’s not mince words, not with this. Where there is money, there is a ‘professionalism’ that displays a great fear and conservatism about not ‘offending’ potential future income. So-far-so-what? I’ve written already about these DJs. What is different is; now we are actually booking again, nothing seems to stick. No one at an industry level is willing to do anything but desperately carry on as if nothing happened …for money.
And why not? I get it. I’ve not earned anything, not a red cent, no assistance, dole or grants. Zip. Nada. Zero. For 14 months. I see why folks want to set conscience aside. Sometimes it’s more prosaic than mere morals and honour. Sometimes a promoter has already paid the agent and the Plague Rave DJ for a postponed 2019 or 2020 gig. You didn’t know the postponement would be years, how could you? These days we generally have to pay the fat fee up front in-full. Or a very hefty deposit. How was anyone to know the DJ you paid handsomely would merrily ignore COVID and carry on with that money in their pocket? Anyone would want that cash back …and if that means going ahead with that postponed gig and bringing desperately-needed money in on top of your outlay, what else can anyone do?
That is why I am here, writing this with a slightly daft and bewildered look on my face. I asked a lot of questions in my second book about our business, but didn’t provide many answers. I don’t have all the answers and I certainly don’t think I should try and find any unilaterally . I think people with all the answers and in possession of no questions at all are the scariest people on the planet. Dialogue is everything. Really. It is the only way we can possibly grow. In one chat I had with The Blessed Madonna she spoke about how in the UK the proposed ‘Liberation Day’ on June 21st should not be about hedonism at all, but about celebrating key workers. We spoke about a possibility of giving free drinks and entry to these people who are the opposite of Plague Rave DJs. The genuine heroes who helped others, rather than helped themselves, sometimes at cost of their very lives. That day perhaps should be a celebration, an orgy of gratitude rather than of personal pleasure. So I merrily went about seeing who would join us. Who in the biz would pitch-in. “What, give things away!??” was basically the result. Am I the only one who feels like everyone is petrified of taking a stance lately? Let us be clear, the disco mirrors the world at large precisely. We cannot evade the Culture War, much as we would like to. It demands you take a side and indeed, places you on one side regardless if you refuse to choose. There is simply no escaping it. It was designed that way by some of the cleverest, most vile people in human history.
I don’t believe in ‘cancel culture’. Not one bit. I really don’t. It petrifies me. Flaming torches are not nearly as useful as pitchforks when it comes to baling hay, and yet people wave them together. Happy to set fire to everything in their righteous rage, including themselves. Am I the only one who has seen, time after time, people happier to attack those trying to oppose wrongdoing than the wrongdoers themselves? This is precisely why The Left always loses. More happy to claw at the face of their peers than go at the actual villains. More about a game of who is the most worthy and righteous than anything to do with change. It’s an easier battle after all, one you feel you can win.
I’m not asking, nor have I ever, to ‘cancel’ any DJs, promoters, businesses or venues. Even the horrible ones that say COVID is a hoax. The stupid are to be pitied rather than punished. Their education has to happen, however. It must! Doing nothing will not turn them around. Indeed paying them fat wads and continuing to help them prosper puts you very much in the camp of being part of the problem. In this vortex of untrammelled greed we now live in, the only recourse we can possibly expect is when we hit them where it hurts. In the place in the chest where the heart used to be, and now holds their wallet. They will change, if we make them.
So the big fat question is; ‘Holding the Plague Ravers to account, how?’ Yeah. Tough one. It is highly complex. The industry at large is also in the frame, naturally. As is every single maskless dancer. Like I said above, these new dates may be a postponed booking already paid for. So, fine. Do that gig. But perhaps not the next one? I myself book DJs, sometimes for large events. Don’t tell me nothing is going to happen because I will certainly do something. I will not book Plague Rave DJs. Forever? no! Cancelling doesn’t do anything but entrench wrongness. If I get the chance to say to the agent or act “not this year, because you spread COVID, but ask me again next year, seriously.” Perhaps that is a method? It’s mine, for what that is worth. We need more than this. We need to come up with a plan. Perhaps our industry bodies need to fundamentally ask what exactly it is they truly represent. Us or themselves? The wellbeing and prosperity of its members, or dull pieces of silver? And no, prosperity doesn’t mean money, cash is just a plimsol line on a ship. A measure of far, far more important things.
The reason I have to take personal responsibility is obvious, but why damage my own rep and career by speaking out? Easy. It’s very much linked to the New Stupid and global rise of the Far Right. It cannot go on. An uncrossable line is hoving into view. The greasiest, very worst of us doing exactly whatever they want, at the expense of human lives, with no consequences at all, everywhere. It’s a global plague far more deadly and long lasting. I might not be able to stop a rampant demagogue in power, but I can say a large NO to people who copy this behaviour in my world. And yes, without question they are connected. With no leadership at best, actively the most nightmarish possible examples of humanity at worst, why should anyone not blessed with too much brightness not copy them? If the so-called leaders are grifters and charlatans, why not follow their example?
Look at Resident Advisor and Boiler Room. Two of our biggest brands getting the fattest government cash handouts for essentially doing almost nothing. Both backed by gigantic investors. RA sells the tickets to the Plague Raves merrily, using our tax money to do it, then even has the nerve to tell us a year later it was wrong as if making some sort of stellar discovery, rather than finally having to do something after the rest of us were shouting about it at the tops of our voices it for over 12 months. Boiler Room very, very rarely paid any of the DJs who are the key component of their business model, but make millions from them. And again, they are the first to ask for handouts, and boy did they get them.
Somehow, bizarrely, the ticket sellers got the relief money but the venues and artists they sell the tickets for didn’t. This greatly reflects the drop in value we have placed on reality in favour of the internet. Enterprises that cross borders online, often with foreign backers, seem to be more important to UK mandarins than anything homegrown, yet simultaneously loudly claim to be patriots. Both RA and BR have cried crocodile tears and operatically hand-wrung when brought to account, but does anyone actually think they will change? Not unless we keep applying pressure. That much is certain. Like greedy children with cake all over their faces, they will grab anything and stuff it in their fun holes if we take our eyes off them.
Staggeringly, RA even started a campaign based on them not paying you back, disguised as worthy charity. And it was very much so if you understand that they themselves were the worthy charity. Their campaign ‘Save Our Scene’ seemed at first glance a righteous effort, but it stood up to little scrutiny. The caveat that we all should stop asking for refunds, whilst RA put up a notice saying they were ‘retaining our booking fee’ was so staggering and bold it was almost funny. They then gave an option for you to ‘strongly disagree’ and insist they paid you back but, surprise surprise, the process was predictably convoluted and blatantly designed to make any applicant give up in frustration. Airlines were playing the same murky game as an even larger scam. Happily promising flights they knew perfectly well would be cancelled, to be clear; cancelled by themselves, and then like RA, made getting your money back so difficult many simply abandon hope. Or in the case of Ryanair, flat refused to refund for a period of many months. Of course, any sane society simply automatically refunds, IN FULL, and doesn’t dare lecture you or obfuscate. All this is bilious enough but on top of them all getting fat Government bailouts? It beggars belief. How did we get this bad? What the hell happened to us?
There has to be a future for people of all genders, races and orientations in this business. There has to be a place for conscience and wellbeing. A greener business. A culture with more to it than the bottom line.
Is our industry so predatory and based on indoctrinating the very young that it has no conscience at all? Perhaps it doesn’t need one when its prey are so innocent and simple. The Kiddie Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang seems to be the model for dance music commerce, and that is about as far away from the scene we started as it is possible to be. And again, it’s hard to bring anyone to account when ‘the kids’ themselves are so daft, blinded by propaganda and easily led. If the Culture War is teaching us anything it is that there is pretty much half the global population who are so dense they need to whistle to know which end to shit out of. As I write this, right now opposite me in Dalt Vila, on the patch of bastion of the old walls where the IMS holds its outdoor event yearly, there is a nutter with a large speaker on a trolley shouting about ‘freedom’ into a mic and playing horrible distorted reggaeton to about 20 maskless idiots dancing around genuinely thinking the whole world is going to gravitate to their wee COVID party. Utterly unaware that the acoustics of the castle send the sound upwards rather than outwards and only they, and unfortunately myself and my neighbours, can hear it.
What is to be done about it all? I’m asking for help here. Many agree with me on this. Again, quite possibly as much as 50% of the population agree. We are a binary species and no-one knows this to a decimal place more than our politicians. We need a firm roadmap out of COVID and I don’t want to bear the burden of it. Frankly, I’m tired of being treated like some sort of whiffy leper in the wilderness who lives in a hole and capers for chips. You, yes YOU reading this knows this situation is so wrong it is almost a new level of evil. A word I do not use lightly. Zero accountability is the lip on the singularity of a total black hole of anarchy. A final triumph for crazed greed is the absence of agreed morality. They’ve been systematically killing consensus wherever it is. Science? – irrelevant. Truth? – nothing compared to honking opinions. Right and wrong? – whatever you want it to be at any given moment. No. It has to stop and sorry, absolutely no one is going to fix this for us. We have to act.
There MUST be accountability, and if our industry ‘representatives’ won’t do anything, then we must. After all, we are the industry. Even if you’ve never been paid stupid money to play someone else’s records, if you like a dance, you are one of us. There has to be a future for people of all genders, races and orientations in this business. There has to be a place for conscience and wellbeing. A greener business. A culture with more to it than the bottom line.
We are deep in the midst of a global industrial revolution in-reverse. We are abandoning the factories and returning to the countryside and once again weaving our own cottage industry on digital looms. We have to wrestle the internet away from greedy Techbros and Bitcoin Geckos and swivel-eyed Nazis and start to represent ourselves. We must break monopolies and speak to each other directly. I don’t have all the answers so I am inviting you to contact me with yours. Especially if you work in this industry and even better, have some pull in it. Especially if you’re a member of one of those communities who’ve been sidelined and marginalised by the dance-industrial complex, as I’m well aware that my own perspective is inherently influenced by my own privilege. All ideas are equal in our house. I’m not rich, nor powerful, please don’t expect me to facilitate your idea overnight. I can listen to it though. Hopefully collate some of the good ones into a roadmap to somewhere better. Somewhere moral. Somewhere perhaps we always should have been but lost our way somehow. It absolutely cannot go on like this. The same names and the same brands and the same 1% hoovering-up everything we own.
So get in touch. Comment below, email us, jump on the socials with your radical plans and your common sense solutions. Your idealism or your experience. We promise that at the very least, we’ll listen. Club culture started as a revolution, not a rat race, and maybe together we can remind people of that. At least let’s start thinking about real, practical alternatives that will help us all prosper together, instead of being tinned food for fat cats. Honestly, at rock bottom, what have we possibly got to lose but the worst parts of us? Let’s emerge from this as if from a detox: fresh. New. Real.