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Is This the Saddest Thing to Happen in Dance Music This Decade?

Thank you, Tasker, for making us feel the worst we have in years.
Danny Hahn

While whiling away the remains of a pretty grotty Sunday — post beans-on-toast-tea, pre desultory-shower-in-lieu-of-living-somewhere-with-a-bath-shower — I caught myself trudging through the increasingly barren hinterlands of my Facebook feed. Blame the relatively tiny amount of friends I've amassed over the years, or the digital content-migration to Twitter, but as the days drag on, my timeline's former blur and whirr of status updates and profile photo updates has gone from an oceanic gush to a polite trickle. Still, the odd thing manages to snap me into a state of relative interest.


Nestled amongst the xeroxed-to-bugger memes, and the photos of joylesly sipped cocktails on the roof of Frank's was something that ranks highly in my list of "saddest things I've ever witnessed". Coming in at a solid number three — above seeing a child fall face first into a 99 on a pebbly beach in October, but below watching my grandmother fall over a curb while clutching a 99 at Duxford, everyone's favourite museum of aviation — is this photo that Nic Tasker posted during his set at Secret Garden Party.

Photo via Tasker

Before I get all John Berger on you, for those that might not know, Nic Tasker is a London based DJ who has a show on NTS, runs the Whities label, and throws the Principals parties. He's also a music selector at Boiler Room and compiles compilatons for 22tracks. He's a relatively big deal.

Back to the photo. Look at it. Properly. Don't just glance up and let it kind of slide into your brain for a split-second before replacing it with whatever constitutes your own personal internal screensaver. Properly look at it. Take a minute out of your day and really stare at it. Get yourself in there.

What do we have? Literally, you've got a photo someone about to play a DJ set in the rain to a crowd of zero. That's crushing as it is. Imagine being stood there, hands hovering over the pots and faders, looking out to nobody. I've been there, and let me tell you this for free — it's absolutely soul-destroying. You feel like a lemon. You feel like everyone there — even though no one's there — is embarrassed on your behalf. You feel like slipping out unnoticed, until you realize that you really would go unnoticed, and pride kicks in, and you decided that that your departure going unremarked upon would do untold psychological damage, so you stick it out and stand there all alone, playing the records you thought you'd play to hundreds to nobody, each kick reverberating round the endless space of the dancefloor, each hi-hat, each clap, piercing your heart a fraction more till you're in severe danger of bleeding out emotionally. Your free beers taste sour. You long for a cigarette even though you don't smoke. You've never wanted to be alone more in your life. You've never been more alone in your life.


Then there's the rain. No one really likes rain, do they? Even those cardigan-clad adult-Amelie fans who blather on in cosy coffee shops nationwide about how much they love the sound of rain gently tapping on their windows late at night are, for want of a better phrase, infantile fucking liars. No one likes walking down melted grey streets, or country lanes that now look like shit impressionist paintings, with soggy, muddy laces thwacking against denimed calves, jackets clinging to backs, the faint smell of wet dog wafting into nostrils, do they? Find me someone who actively enjoys walking into their own house sopping wet, and you've found me the kind of sick fuck who needs banging up immediately. I would literally, I think at least, rather spend a walk wandering round Death Valley with Anne Widdecombe and a single 2ltr bottle of Evian for company than endure another soggy soujourn down the Southbank.

DJing, to no one, in the rain, then, must be the bleakest thing imaginable. Especially at a festival which prides itself on being an outdoor spectacular. My experience of festival downpours is limited to watching the Vaccines attempt to bluster through a set during a genuinely biblical heavens-opening on top of a mountain in Bilbao, before the band relented and wussed out and we all turned to watch pissed up Basque boys bombing down DIY mudslides belly-first. The sun the sun came up and I shared a spliff with a stranger and felt very odd while watching Kings of Leon from the VIP area I was perched in. It was fine: I was in Spain, on a mountain, sharing spliffs with strangers in the VIP area.

I wasn't Nic Tasker, watching his Secret Garden Party hopes and dreams drizzle into the gutter, rolling about the the empty-tinnies and emptier promises. It wasn't meant to be like this. Life wasn't meant to be like this, Tasker might have thought, life wasn't meant to be like this and I wish I'd bought one of those K-Way waterproofs I saw on offer last week, and I wish I was at home, in my lounge, excitedly setting to work on the Arroword in the Sunday Mirror, with a beaker of squash and a Kit Kat.

That's what he might have been thinking. Looking at the photo of his, I caught myself thinking about futility and pointlessness and sadness and emptiness and hopelessness. I felt like I'd been soaked through. I felt like i was DJing to no one.

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