The bloke with the ponytail who sits joylessly pumping pound coins into the fruit machine night after night down your local pub? Huge Paul van Dyk fan. Your mum's mate Melissa's first dance was to Tiesto's take on "Adagio for Strings." The best mate you swore you'd keep in touch with from primary school but now haven't seen for fifteen years has a Gatecrasher tattoo on his back. Everyone secretly loves trance. That dictum, so it goes, applies to embryos, too.
The Altravita IVF clinic in Moscow recently discovered that playing 24 hours of Armin van Buuren to eggs increased the number of viable embryos by a fifth. Imagine being a "trance baby," an Ayla or Barbarella, having come into this Earth through otherworldly bleeps and hypnotic bass. As a test tube baby myself, and a human—thus a lover of trance—I thought it would be interesting to corroborate the evidence.
So, I fished-out some goggles still dusty from the days of 10m Frosties Badges, nicked a boiler suit, and set-up a mini laboratory. Lacking any means of actual in vitro fertilization, I thought I'd do the next best thing to actually creating a human life, so I found myself purchasing a couple of "MAGIC GROWING SNOWMEN" that had been left to melt into the post-Christmas bargain bins, and subjecting one of them to a serious dose of sappy-trance to see if it'd grow more successfully than it's mute brother. Yes, technically these weren't embryos, but they were magic growing snowmen, and short of breaking into an IVF clinic that was the best I could offer.
I began the experiment by placing each snowman side by side. The one on the left was selected to be the trance baby. There was no scientific reason for this. It was just the way it happened. If that nullifies the results of this rigorous study then…go back to college, nerd!
Both slightly sad looking mini abominable creatures were doused in a tiny baggie of potassium phosphate, a food additive also known as E340, one of the E numbers that your Mum used to mention when ranting about blue smarties. This is not to be confused with legendary Bay Area rapper E-40, who has nothing to do whatsoever with sugar-coated roundels of chocolate.
In a last ditch attempt to instill some form of proper test conditions, the trance snowman was placed next to a mini speaker blasting out Armin Van Buuren mixes, and the other one was confined in a soundproof mesh bin. The poor, snowy sod, his face like a greasy nitwit caught with his hand in the till of the local inn, was stuck with nothing but the sound of his halting and disjointed internal monologue for company. It's all about the variables, baby.
After 24 hours, both snowmen had developed a significant amount of what their manufacturer—father? mother? god?—calls snow, but is far more akin to white potpourri. I had, just to clarify, not been expecting actual snow to materialize from the carrot-nosed buggers. Turns out that the snowman not played trance actually grew more snow. What did this all mean? Is trance a form of musical pavement grit?
The first conclusion that I, and probably you, came to, is that I have way too much time on my hands and should really stop dicking about with tiny little snowmen. Undoubtedly, that's true, but there was something more to this. Rewind back to 1994 when repetitive beats were vilified, used as the literal basis for the Criminal Justice Law's attempt to wipe-out rave. Now, the University of Oxford are commenting on how trance might be able to actually help bring new life into the world. There's something weirdly satisfactory about that; the fact that science and dance music can co-align. After all, like science, techno is often clinical, mathematical and robotic, yet equally beautiful.
It was only last month that the FDA gave the go-ahead for trials of MDMA to treat PTSD, turning a drug that could get you up to forty years in prison for possessing just five grams into a medicine. Similarly, ketamine is being used in studies by the University of Oxford, with results being hugely promising. As the doctor who undertook the trial put it: "It's very moving to witness. Patients often comment that the flow of their thinking seems freer." Of course, having a little wrap of pony-powder could still land you with up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine, but it's become clear that the drugs that even the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs couldn't talk about without getting banned, could have huge scientific and medicinal value.
Aside from the drugs, almost every aspect of dance music is being dabbled with by scientists and promoters in healthy ways. Like when back in 2008, Surya in Kings Cross got a piezoelectric dancefloor, which used quartz crystals to turn dancing into eco-friendly electricity. Or sober raves, on the rise for ex-addicts and teetotals to enjoy the spiritual coming together of bass music without the comedowns or chemical dependencies.
Above all, sadly, all of these experiments show how far ahead science is compared to the government. For years, scientists have been attempting to overcome difficult boundaries to test drugs like MDMA and Ketamine in a laboratory free of stigmas—and it's not looking too hopeful for medical users of weed, with Theresa May being about as likely to advance their cause as she is whip up a batch of hash brownies. While the government are helping get rid of dance music events and putting harsher laws on possibly hugely beneficial drugs, scientists are experimenting with them and growing embryos with Armin Van Buuren.
And I'm playing trance to toy snowmen.