As the debate about the divide between the nominal mainstream and the so-called underground rumbles on and on, dance's resident jester Seth Troxler's entered the fray. Rather than bemoaning the state of the scene, the Michigan man is taking things into his own hands.
On the eighth of August, Troxler is bringing a few friends to east London's Tobacco Dock for "Acid Future" — a one day celebration of all things acidic. Troxler believes that the relative lack of an established EDM culture in the UK is a direct result of the way clubbing here was in the late 80s. Here's an exclusive look at his video teaser for the event.
The acid house explosion was a period when it felt like people in dark rooms dancing on drugs had the power to shape the fact of British culture and genuinely help bring about a societal shift. It was a narcotically powered attempt at creating the kind of unity that the Thatcher regime had systematically made obsolete. It was about communion, togetherness, and, ultimately, hope. Hope that transcendence through dance was possible, hope that the drudgery of work, or unemployment, weren't all life had to offer, hope that pills would always be that strong and this cheap.
It was a brief boom. The large scale raves of the acieed generation came and went, shovelled six feet under by 1994's Criminal Justice and Public Order Act ushering in the extortionately priced age of the Ibizan superstar DJ. Dance music became the preserve of those with enough financial nous to save up for a hazy weekend on the white island, or for drinks at Ministry. The idea of people power powered by people popping pills and sweating their way to freedom in warehouses in Padstow, Preston, and Portsmouth was over.
The sound never left, and there'll always be pockets of DJs playing distorted 303 mutations by the likes of Virgo, Phuture and Bam Bam, but that feeling of possibility and potential has, largely, dissipated into the ether. What we've got in it's place, in 2015, is a club culture without any actual culture. It's easy to be sniffy about EDM but as Troxler himself says, "If you're into underground dance music culture, the people you meet are really educated, professional people doing amazing things. In EDM, I don't think it's the same world." The cakes and explosions and vast stages only amplify the disconnect between what dance music was and now is.
For Troxler, this EDM issue is that, "we're part of a dance culture that is making music based on an idea that is completely authentic, whereas they're making music that is based on profit." You get the sense that Acid Future is an attempt at reclaiming the centrality of authenticity and experience over making a killing from backwards-capped fratboys chugging down $12 beers in paper cups as they wait for drop after drop.
Of the event, he's said that, "First, we invite you to enter into a bye-gone era. A place where dance music was fresh and new. Where late nights turned into bright new days of inspiration and opportunity. You remember that first time you went to a party don't you? Your friends dragging you along…you, unsure if they might be crazy. As you approach an un-assuming warehouse, you hear the faint thumping of bass piercing the nights silence…"
In taking it back to the old days — and the legitimacy of this indebtedness to the past is another story — he's trying to get us to reflect on the present before we slip into a future where the flash, fizz and fuckery of EDM all but replaces what dance music is, and what it can do.
Seth Troxler's Acid Future takes place on August 8th at Tobacco Dock. For more information and tickets head here.