Allright fuck it, heres a shot at something ive been trying to get out for years now.
Think of it this way. There used to be an underground. It was invite only. You knew someone, called someone or called a number. Lots of olders (not elders) will wax poetic about how good it all used to be before it went to shit. Theyre not in it anymore, not making money, not involved so theyre welcome to their opinions but honestly, fuck em. I’m a millienial by the way.
My cousin used to get a cassette tape which would have a phone number on it. I would play the tape endlessly but she called the number, got an address, hopped into a van with 5 of her girlfriends and drive to a strip mall. There would be an office in a vacant retailer’s space. They would walk up, assure the guys working there that they weren’t cops, buy tickets, and receive their location. Then they would drive out, full of excitement, to the event. Rave for 24-72 hours. Repeat a month or so later.
I heard these stories and at 12 years old wanted nothing more than to be a kandy kid. My cousin gave me tapes and made me bracelets. I didn’t get to my first rave until 16 and it was quite different. By the time I came around no more hotlines and strip malls, just warehouses in the desert and flyers. And it was fucking amazing.
As I kept going more and more I began to differentiate between scenes, drum n bass, psytrance, house, techno, progressive, etc. There used to be a uniform, a culture associated in the same way that BBoys who wore Kangols and Addidas could identify. All of these kids were fucking intimidating to me and I was straight up scared of going to these events. I got jumped, robbed, fucked, drunk, rolled and all kinds of other things. It was amazing.
Then, the internet. First it was the disappearance of flyers that I noticed. As Facebook came online I realized that less events came to me through a flyer or a friend telling me and more came to me in my inbox. But the fucking good ones, those were the ones that came the good old fashioned way. And I learned, over time, that this was the difference between the above ground and the underground.
I’ve watched social media infiltrate the underground, which used to be funded by drugs, rich kids and predatory promoters who made their money in the corporate world. Now it’s still funded by all of those things but fed through a drip feed of IG, Facebook, YouTube, RA, or whatever brand sponsors them.
Now I admit the game had to change, but it was once a fact that the best events were never advertised. From 2010 onwards what has slowly happened, in my opinion, is that people have lost their ability to share stories about their peak experiences in life in a space outside of the Internet. I used to tell my stories at bars, in living rooms, and in smoking sections. Now I tell them here, and in hundred other tiny internet boxes that feed my dopamine receptors with blue circle notifications in reward.
So, the underground, and by proxy the above ground events that feed it, had to go online. Otherwise nobody would show up. Nobody knows how to keep things off the internet, and hasn’t known how to do so since 2010. This is a reality of life, and as such a reality of the scenes some of us inhabit. This is why Berghain, De School and others have begun to put stickers on your phones. You literally cant help yourself from doing these things. Next step is the Faraday Cage Club. Gimme 10 years.
There are still underground events. People are still raving face and having peak experiences. The issue, in my opinion, is that the quality of those events does not match the quantity offered. And the network that could come from going to one quality event and linking into a community of like minded people who potentially could become friends, lovers and allies is lost when we give our stories away to socials so easily rather than take the time to tell them to each other, or in some cases learn or re-learn how to do so. That’s what this moment is showing me.
The reason I’m telling this story is to try and thread a sense of history and tell what it is about the cultivation of in real life experiences and events that are not data. That are not photos. That are not videos. That are not posts. That are not something to add to your “story” or tag for a friend or promote for a free ticket to the next one. Some of us have forgotten, some never knew. The issue right now is that many people need to continue to make a living doing what they love, playing music, promoting shows, running labels, releasing tunes. And suddenly EVERYTHING is online, NOTHING is in real life. We are frozen in a moment in which many physical spaces and places will die. Many people in the music biz will be in a really tight spot.
So what began to happen around 2005 that caused us all to jump on the internet and begin to lose our social skills? Perhaps it was the fact that we subconsciously knew that social bonds were crumbling around us, that the early 2000s were a peak moment of prosperity, and that surely this was the next best thing. We ballooned scenes and events and parties up, up, and up into what we have today. And now the balloon deflates and we decide if we want to play it over again or create something that we’ve only heard stories about. A scene that means something to us 20 years from now, that changes the way we look at our past, our reality, and our many, many futures.
So, the way forward? Parts of the scene aren’t worth saving. Other parts are more important than ever to save and fund, immediately. It’s up to us to create a nuanced discussion as to what those parts are, why, and to ideally convince others of our opinion. This is what a healthy active forum / debate / exchange would look like. But I havent seen those in years, so not holding my breath. Open for messages, replys and quotes tho. Fuck this was a rant, I don’t think i even got to the bottom of what I wanted to, but feels good nonetheless. Ideally someone invites exchange and questions what i wrote above…
What do you think is worth saving? What should die? What could happen next?