Things That Need to Disappear from Dancefloors Forever
Aug 16 2012
Have you ever seen one of those old disco documentaries that are on BBC4 sometimes? They're fucking amazing. They're one of those rare things that make me wanna be alive in a time that isn't now, a more innocent time before homophobic hicks cottoned on to what a dancefloor was, before Rohypnol, badly cut cocaine, small-town DJs playing chart trance to hen night partiers, knife checks, AIDS and J Devil. But since Thomas Edison first linked two turntables together at Studio 54, dancefloors and the people that populate them have spent 40 years getting worse.
It would be bliss to live in a world where lecherous old, dancing men in open-buttoned shirts didn't exist, and "white-boy grinding" simply meant a metal cutter's apprentice from Ipswich going about his daily business, but I fear we're irretrievably past that point now. So it's probably about time we made a few of these dancefloor sins die forever.
If there's one thing worse than people who feel so moved by a bass frequency that they need to pull a bulldog vs. piss vs. nettle face, it's people who try to jokingly imitate them. It doesn't matter if you're bobbing your head to Kassem Mosse with the Brixton APC techno mafia, an ugly beardo who splits his time between Bass Clef and Drumcunt shows, or at any Slug and Lettuce where they're liable to drop the odd Skream remix – you'll always get a bunch of guys (always, always guys) replicating the earnest man's bass-face with piss-taking gurns.
Which is sad, actually, because you can tell that most of these guys actually love whatever's just been dropped and are dying to lose their shit, but for some reason they feel the need to save face through a cellophane mask of irony. And what could possibly be worse than ironic dancing? Do you kiss your girlfriend ironically? Do you fuck ironically? So why do you dance ironically? It's a club, you idiot; everyone's there to dance, not to watch you create a pantomime out of your own insecurities.
Girls who aren't attractive enough to be oligarch arm-candy or skanky enough to be strippers trying to pay off their student loan by selling overpriced tequila to desperate men? It's a situation in which everybody involved is exploited. Ethically, you might as well be drinking wine from Mugabe's vineyard. I often think I want to rescue shot girls, like Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver; I want to make them human again. But then I remember they're probably just normal suburban girls who found themselves in a six-day-a-week party out in Goa and didn't want it to stop when they got back to whatever squalid student digs they've wound up in.
They probably make more money than me, but a part of me still feels sorry for shot girls – they're the corner boys of the licensing industry: doing the dirty work while the bosses smoke Montecristos with Carl Cox and get blown by people who've been busted doing coke in the lavs.
There's a reason this is the only video in this list and the logic behind that should be obvious within the first few seconds – just look at the man, he's so fucking fluid. And, despite what the YouTube commenters have to say, George McCrae is most definitely a manly man, albeit one with a Rhinestone-encrusted velvet jacket, a style of clapping that no one would ever describe as excessively heterosexual and the voice of a nervous child.
What's so masculine about him is how little of a fuck he gives about other people's perceptions of his own masculinity. Back before texts and Facebook allowed you to spend all week redrafting your advances towards girls, editing your own personality to suit their whims and peccadillos, you had maybe a 30-second window to convince a girl you'd been thinking about all week to sleep with you. If you fluffed your lines, you were fucked, and it's that risk – sadly lacking from modern clubland – that made your dad so much cooler than you. (And anyone who dances to George McCrae so much cooler than people who mosh to Skrillex.)
You can hear it in the music, too: the infatuation and need to impress just bleeds through. Honestly, head to any party with "Rock Your Baby" playing on the turntable in your mind and you have maybe three times as good a chance of getting laid than if you go out humming A1 Bassline or Shed. That said...
THE SWAYZE SKANK
Alright mate, I get it. You've got a hot girlfriend, whereas I'm forced to shuffle awkwardly along the edges of the floor like a broke farmer at a cattle sale. You do not need to do that thing where you stand behind your missus and caress her torso like dead Patrick Swayze in Ghost. Your moves aren't vicariously turning us on, you look like a creepy grandfather-to-be rather than a stud whose prize we're all jealous of.
Now, the CAMRA crowd aren't gonna like this, but fuck 'em, they don't go to clubs anyway (unless Berghain have booked Jethro Tull for an original lineup reformation set, that is). The problem is, people who insist on drinking full pints in packed clubs seem to demand that they're treated with the kind of respect usually reserved for people in wheelchairs. I'm sorry if I've spilt your jar of watered down Carling, but this venue is 200 people over capacity and Oneman just dropped "Gabriel". I am not going to curb my rowdy behaviour because you insist that "it tastes better on draught". All club beer is shit, just cut your losses and get a bottle. You'll probably lose the same amount of liquid from people knocking into you as you would from shaving 240ml off your drink in the first place.
THE DREADLOCK SWING
You turned 16, took your first pill, stopped listening to Soulfly because you realised it didn't really match the vibe, bought your first couple of 12"s after playing them at the wrong speed on the in-shop turntable and stole all your mum's tin foil to wrap it round your shitty radio aerial. 'Congratulations, me,' you thought to yourself. 'I'm finally out of the Kerrang! ghetto. Where's the rave at?'
Well, turns out the rave is at a warehouse/club/squat/house half hour's train ride away and at least three people there inevitably have dreadlocks. Lo and behold, I found myself getting whipped in the face by the furry locks of a K-holing Rapunzel at the post-Bloc Hyperdub showcase. Her soggy dreads brushed my lips like a goodbye kiss from a drowning dog, the foul concoction of club sweat and retained rainwater splashing my tonsils and trickling down into my turning stomach. Must these human rubbish tips insist on venturing out of whatever Neasden-based "eco commune" they all live in? I blame The Spaceape.
THE LADY TRAIN
Sure, "1 Thing" just came on and you feel compelled to let everyone in the club know it's the throwback soundtrack to yours and your girlz' 2006 Zante fuckathon, but nothing justifies forming that chaotic, eight-person conga line to cut through the entire crowd in a symphony of bloody, stilettoed toes, squeals and spilt vodka and cokes. Also, if you love a song that much, why not just enjoy it where you were stood originally, rather than wasting half of it by infuriating everyone around you? I'm pretty certain there's no one optimum spot to most enjoy yourself on any dancefloor? (Unless you're one of those painfully depressing people who likes to brag about getting tinnitus from standing next to the subwoofers all night.)
Unless you've been living in Greece for the last few years (where they love a fag and quite frankly have more important things to worry about), you'll have noticed that gas-based bodily emissions have become a dancefloor pandemic in the post-smoking ban era. Once upon a time, the stench was overpowered by the not-quite-as-foul odour of stale B&H. But now clubs are so thick with the fug of beer burps and drug farts that you can tangibly feel the shit and bile particles leaking into your mouth whenever you open it to order more booze (ironic) or chirpse someone.
At Plan B or Plastic People, it sort of makes sense (dubstep is played in clubs, most dubstep sounds like farts), but I do wonder if this is a problem at those Ibiza superdomes where you need 400 Euros, a boat and a white linen shirt to get in? Or do Pacha pump in the scent of rare orchids and the captured musk of some boyish eunuch to disguise all the guffing and belching? As I'm not likely to be hired as a shot girl in San Antonio any time soon, you'll have to send me your answers on a postcard, please.
We all know who he is and we all hope he ODs.