[Premiere] What Happened When 30+ Strangers Were Asked to Dance for a Music Video
The music video for Portuguese producer and DJ Moullinex’s track, "Love Love Love," turns a casting call into a celebration of dance culture.
Behind-the-scenes of the video shoot. Photo by Amy J Gardner
Dancing, of the non-choreographed, busting-some-shapes-in-the-club-kind, is the essence of the new music video for "Love Love Love," from Portuguese producer, DJ, and musician Moullinex (Luis Clara Gomes).
The aim was to capture people minus inhibitions as they not only danced but also answered questions about dancing and what it means to them. Questions of whether dance has a gender, whether people like to dance alone or in a group, and whether it's a spiritual experience, or a purely escapist one, all come into play.
To create the video, Moullinex and his team set up an open casting call on Craigslist for dancers looking to feature in a music video. It was open to both professional dancers and amateurs, anyone and everyone. They just had to sign a release form and be open to their footage being used.
It's resulted in a video that is intimate, honest, awkward, and a lot of fun, too. With people dancing the way they would perhaps when they're home alone listening to some music, or in a club lost in the moment.
"When I started discussing the concept for this video with Bruno Ferreira, the director, and Sebastião Albuquerque, the video project's supervisor, we knew we wanted to go beyond aesthetics and capture real people doing something real," Moullinex tells Creators.
Filming an actual casting call provided the ideal lo-fi conditions, while also allowing Moullinex and collaborators to explore the immersive nature of dancing outside of the environment of a club. "[It] creates the perfect setting for an immediate connection with the casting participants, as their performances feel realistic, unfiltered. The awkwardness of being filmed is countered by the will to get the part," he says.
It also allowed the filmmakers to find genuine answers to how people thought about dancing and EDM culture. What it signifies to them—individually, socially—revealed in an unguarded manner.
"Despite our existence being ever more digital and physically disconnected from other people," explains Moullinex, "something very powerful still draws crowds to gather in a densely occupied dance floor, creating a space where people let go of several social norms, and even allow themselves to touch complete strangers, something they'd never do in another context. With the participants, our goal was to explore their relationship to music and dance."
Moullinex says he and the filmmakers were fans of Rineke Dijkstra's series The Buzz Club from the 1990s, wherein the Dutch photographer captured portraits of ravers and clubbers from the UK and the Netherlands. She took them out of the context of the club, asking them to perform as solitary, isolated figures in front of the camera however they wanted—which she then filmed and photographed. Some of the clubbers close their eyes and nod away to the music, others drink from a beer bottle, while others start dancing as if they were still in the club.
"Instead of isolation, we explored 'forcing' the context in an attempt to make it feel natural," Moullinex notes. "The final result could have been simply awkwardness between strangers, and we'd draw a relevant—albeit sad—conclusion. [But] it became a film about dance uniting people, though we didn't exactly set out to do that. We did ask participants questions about community, inclusion and sharing, and that might have made them more comfortable with dancing. Maybe that's the conclusion: people will unite if you just give them a little nudge."
The video also ties into concepts and ideas that inform Moullinex's new album, which celebrates the inclusivity and diversity of dance music. It features collaborations with illustrators, guest singers, and filmmakers to explore this in various manifestations. One of which is this video, which they liken to a social experiment.
Also highlighted in the album is the loss of some of these inclusive spaces and with them the loss an entire concept of what clubbing culture meant. One needs only to look at somewhere like London to see how club venues have disappeared—The End, Turnmills, Bagleys, The Cross, and many more. It's well-documented, and also charts how mainstream culture has subsumed and evolved clubbing into a different form.
"The shift has been subtle, but dance music transitioned from culture to lifestyle accessory," notes Moullinex. "When speaking with veterans from the Lisbon nightclub scene in the 80s, people recall spending the entire week literally creating their outfits for going out in the weekend, as the country had just left a very long fascist, hyper-Catholic dictatorship and there were no shops, publications or in even a template for clubbing. The importance of going out dancing as an escape to a painful, harsh reality. Being different, weird and unique was not only encouraged but celebrated. Take this very specific scene in a small country in Europe in the 1980s. Multiply it by thousands of other times and places, an infinite number of individual cultures. Now picture ten EDM festivals across the globe. Can you tell them apart? I personally can't."
Part of that culture is still there if you know where to look, and people still love to dance and feel euphoric in a club. Moullinex's album and this music video are an ode to that.
"This album is my love letter to the people that created club culture," Moullinex says. "This includes musicians and DJs but also club kids and promoters. People that a point in their lives had an urge to escape the frustrations of daily life and contribute to the creation of an alternate reality, that albeit ephemeral, can be truly powerful."