How smug I feel to be a European clubber, sneering across the Atlantic. To say: “You’re doing it wrong,” to the bikini-clad teens, as they wiggle glowsticks at midday like runway marshals in a Carry On… film. To critique the dance moves of vest-wearing bros (albeit from a distance) as they punch the air, and each other, in time to endless crescendos of distorted midrange masquerading as bass. To lament “subtlety” and “vibe”, and “the forgotten art of the crate-digger”, in the face of Electric Daisy Carnival’s apparent music policy of having every DJ play from a single iTunes playlist, one seemingly pieced together using only the Beatport top 10 and CDs bought in service stations with titles like “Gurntastic Bass Wobs 17”.
Because while our ignorant colonial cousins are asking “Where’s Molly?”, and supporting a music economy where Deadmau5 gets paid $450,000 a show to do a job he openly despises, we’re dancing to the early hours, in fields where house’s original mantras of love and openness are embodied in the loose-limbed sound of DJs indebted to the US’s greatest musical exports – Larry Levan, Derrick May, Frankie Knuckles – and where every colour, creed and orientation comes together, as one love under a groove.
Here we do things properly. Here, you’d never find homogenous crowds, all white, all 20-something, the men wearing the same River Island shirt with plunging necklines that display, glinting against tribal tattoos, a silver spoon on a necklace, and the women parading in a uniform of arse-bearing hot pants, flashing sideboob and pouting like an erotic army dreamt up by a sweaty-palmed teenager in the throes of his vinegar strokes. Our clubbers are experienced, and wouldn’t huff a balloon of laughing gas from a rat-tailed man outside a pub at 1pm, then bang a gram of ketamine and spend the first four hours of a festival trying not to fall into the future, the next four wondering where their friends are and whether that piece of broken glass in their shoeless foot is likely to shatter. And we certainly wouldn’t soundtrack it with the unremitting rhythm of cookie-cutter tech-house, 12 hours of the same insipid kick-hat-snare, an exposure to tedious repetition that even the jailer of a Japanese prisoner of war camp would think was pushing things just a little far.
When did this happen? There used to be a system. We’d stay in our grimy warehouses, our sticky-floored pubs, our grubby house parties, where we’d dance with our hoods up and smoke soap bar and guzzle two-quid pills to broken rhythms, records older than we were that you didn’t know what speed to play it at. And they’d go to clubs called Miss Moneypenny’s, or Angel Vibez, and snort coke off each other while the Trophy Twins played the same six tracks all night, until everyone had sex in a Jacuzzi with Callum Best. It was a system that worked.
Muscles, heels and pneumatic breasts have no place in nightclubs. This is what happens when newspapers print pictures of Kate Moss mincing around V Festival in Hunter wellies, or Harry Styles rocking up to Alibi or some Geordie student’s house to party with the plebs. Clubs should be populated by the emaciated, people whose cheap MDMA is cut with so much speed they don’t sleep Friday to Friday, and subsist solely on wind-blown food that gets caught in their beards. They aren’t places to smile, or show off, or meet people. They’re where you go to sweat out all the terrible parts of your life for a few, dark, loud hours. It’s hard to freak out to Omar S when you’re worried about bumping into a ‘roid rager who looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts, or of having your metatarsal shattered by a misplaced stiletto.
But there’s no point railing against the tech-house TOWIEs, whose DC10 nostalgia inspires them to whip off their vests and flex at the opening strains of “Hungry For Power” (the Jamie Jones remix, natch). Mock them as you may, this is their scene now. Disclosure are at the top of the charts, those guys at school who said “Rollin’ and Scratchin’” was “just fucking noise”, as they drowned you out with Nickelback, now have “Get Lucky” as their ringtone. You just wait until they stop skipping over Moroder’s monologue – then they’ll have the history down too. Dance music is no longer underground, no longer different. It’s like the mid-90s all over again, only with sing-a-long deep house filling the main floor at Oceana in place of endless spinbacks of “Firestarter”.
There’s only one answer. As we’ve been forced out of our niche by the invading hordes of the tanned and toned, we’ll have to take over a different burrow. Somewhere so unfashionable that no one would ever follow. Music that only makes sense in caves, or deep in the woods, or in an enormous Dutch aircraft hangar surrounded by stomping skinheads in camo trousers. Let us head to the warm embrace of gabber, my friends. After all, there’s no chance Nick Grimshaw’s going to play DJ Plague on the Breakfast Show anytime soon.