As I see a DJ friend post a picture of his young child standing on a chair behind his decks with the headphones on it reminded me of how my children were so inquisitive about what I used to do there. Of course, this is a decade ago and my children are now grown. Seeing my friend’s pictures, though, brought me back to when my youngest was diligently watching me mix and scratch those vinyl records and inquisitively asked what it was that I was doing. My children didn’t become DJs but my musical influence impacted them. My oldest son is a practically self-taught guitar player and in my youngest, I see the making of a great event promoter or club manager. My eldest daughter, whom I fostered during her teen years, performs with fire and hoops at music festivals as a dancer.
As many older DJ types do, I’ve had many a conversation regarding the state of the cultural scene of dance music. There’s no denying that it has grown incredibly popular over the past few years. I will spare you the arguments as if you’re reading this; you’ve already heard them many times over. What bothers me the most, though, is the HUGE generation gap occurring in dance music culture. It’s a rift that is dividing dance music culture exponentially, especially here in the United States. Acronyms like PLUR are being replaced with YOLO. Treasured melodies are shunted in place of “the drop.” Musical flow is being pushed aside with clanking noise that is out of tune. Cultural heroes that were placed on pedestals because they worked hard at perfecting their craft are now asked to leave and make room for flash-in-the-pan icons that merely “press play” and jump around like idiots.
What’s the answer?
Like others I began to ask myself, “Is this what we worked so hard for?” The answer is obvious. It’s a blatant no, but I’m not satisfied with just a simple answer. I need to know why and this puzzled me until I saw my friend’s picture.
Looking back at the past decade, I see that depression is no longer a disease but a trend. In the information age, identity is not determined by originality or the deeds of one’s doings. It’s determined by the ideas and concepts bestowed to you by others. Designer and outlaw drugs are no longer. These are fabricated and sold to an indiscriminate market. Legal and prescribed drugs are now the choice. Marketed on television. Sold at Wal-Mart. Legalized by voters.
There’s a generation of kids that are in search of themselves. Perhaps they feel isolated. Perhaps they are indeed without a clue on how to “be themselves”. Perhaps they were never taught. I can’t speak for any of them but I can relate my observations. Twenty years ago, my generation built dance music culture from the ground up. We were outlaws and looked upon as outcasts. This became our identity it also became what defined us. It didn’t matter what you listened to, what mattered is that you part of it as a whole. We were an elite group. Today’s generation hasn’t experienced this so therefore they can’t clearly understand it. So why should we expect them to?
Only because I care.
Well as any parent should, we try to teach. On the surface, this is good for dance music culture. The problem lies with the rebellious nature of children. As the quote above states, perhaps it is this new generation that wants to have the struggle or at lease emulate the struggle. They WANT to repeat our offenses and DESIRE to have the struggle we had to validate who they are. This is impossible, though. Twenty years ago, raves like Electric Daisy Carnival were just that, Rave Parties. It was a few hundred people crammed into a dusty warehouse where you had to call an info-line for intentionally half-assed directions. Today, they’re “music festivals” and you know the lineup, location, date, and time your favorite DJs are playing months ahead of time where you can click on a website for up-to-the-minute information. Then it was a $10, non-refundable, ticket printed at a local Kinko’s. Today, it’s hundreds of dollars with a package that includes a cornucopia of goodies. It’s no longer a struggle to find the “rave” and the only struggle it is for others is to decide which one to go to.
Sadly, this generation will never know the struggle and perhaps that’s what’s most upsetting for both sides. They want to be independent but will be nothing more than the heirs of what the older generations have provided. They attempt to create facsimiles of the culture and some even show a bit of individualism and creativity but the delivery is flawed. It ends up being just an offshoot of someone else’s idea or a redesign of something already in existence. I wish that I had the answer but I don’t. I hope to continue inspiring young people, as I did my own children. Maybe I’ll be successful but I don’t think on those kinds of terms. For my generation, it wasn’t about recognition. It was about being part of something greater than ourselves.