There was a time when rave photography would exist purely to capture the blur of a swinging jaw, depending on your shutter speed. They would encapsulate the fizzing ecstasy, and strike fear into tabloid munching parents up and down the land. What we have now is mixture of putrescent, 21st century ultra-narcissism, and turntablist deification. Neither of them are good.
Selfie culture, as much as Salon or Jezebel may tell you is the internet-age answer to the civil rights movement, is dumb. The notion that a front-facing camera is anything more than an excuse to feed your ego, and let everyone know how good about your appearance you're feeling, is a wrong one. It's a private smugness - until it's uploaded.
Essentially, you're not even really taking a photo of your own face. You're capturing a contorted, tightened version; pouting, eyelids lowered, head cocked. Just thinking about people taking these photos and then observing them - scrutinising their own mugs like a Vogue art director ready to load up Photoshop - fills me will a cold dread. Yet they're not confined to the bedroom or the train. Countless times I've seen people, predominantly young women, stood near the booth, arm stretched into the air like a smart phone seig heil, making sure everyone knows a) how great they look and b) how much of an awesome time they're having.
But why? To what end?
I can only imagine that the same chemical that's released in your brain when you win a game of blackjack in Vegas, the start of your lethal gambling addiction, is the same every time you see a fresh 'like' on Instagram. A different kind of club also has a form of photography, but those are less about 'music and vibes', and more about 'being a cunt'. Yes, the kind of place in any British city centre; where men with giant arms, and tiny, faux Versace baroque-style patterned t-shirts, don their sunnies and book a table in the corner to swag out.
It's a gratuitous display of imagined, middle-manager wealth, signified by the sceptre of a bottle of cheap champagne.
People will stand and pose, flute in hand, and stare into the lens. Everything ancillary to that becomes irrelevant until the club's Facebook makes an album, and everyone can see you splashing like the Tidal Wave ride at Thorpe Park. To an extent, these people can be forgiven. They're insecure. They want - nay, need - people to know they're attractive and wealthy. It's a human folly, one I'm sure we most of us can relate to. There's something else that has become a trend as well, however, and it's part of a larger issue.
In the same way at a concert there'll be some guy or girl with a photo pass slapped on their leg in the gap between the stage, and the punters waiting for the dude from Muse or whatever to make an "Oooosh" face so they can capture the "energy of the performance", there's now a student with an SLR taking photos of people mixing. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever, as the most "energy" you'll snap from a DJ is their jaw slacking, or their spine undulating, to the respective BPM.
It's part of the larger problem of the DJ becoming the focal point of the dance. Ravers stood gawking at them because they're obsessed, or want to bang, or both. Dancing now plays second fiddle to observing.
When you watch footage of pilled up wasters in a field, they're only ever doing one thing - dancing like mad cunts. They dance and dance for hours and hours, eyes lolling back, hands making Spirograph shapes in the air until they've run out of bodily fluids, and need a top up. The cameras are non-existent to them. Nowadays a camera is like club catnip; everyone wants to have their sweaty brow immortalised on a social network, to be loved by strangers.
It will only worsen. The collective narcissism will reach its apex when a whole dance is a giant photo-booth, and people are wearing shoulder-strap phone holders for easy access selfies. I don't know. Maybe if everyone was high a bit more often things wouldn't be like this, but you can't even do that any more without running the risk of becoming a human red dwarf. Until drugs are legal and safe, I suppose we'll have to just endure our own mindless, depressing need for physical validation. It shouldn't really matter in the dark, anyway.
You can follow Joe Bishop on Twitter here: @joe_bish