Ever made a purchase under the influence of a little bit of peer pressure and a lot of Ultra fever? Me neither.
This past weekend I found myself dragging my feet to The Dome, dreading what I thought would be an endless night of uninspiring laser lights and the kind of trance one hears blaring out of that Indian guy’s car as he cruises through UJ looking for parking. I know, I should really give Armin van Buuren more credit and perhaps re-evaluate how much I practice political correctness. For those of you behind the times of commercialised EDM (Electronic Dance Music), he’s the man behind “This Is What It Feels Like”. Still confused? 5fm has the answers. For the slightly more EDM inclined folk, he’s the man behind hard-hitting radio show and podcast “A State of Trance”. He’s topped the Top 100 DJs fan poll a record of five times, is one of a handful of artists to receive a Grammy nomination and holds the most entries on the Billboard’s Dance\Electronic Albums chart. He’s a pretty big deal. Got it? Good.
So where was the spring in my step, you ask? Well, besides the fact that a substantial part of my EDM love died with the end of Swedish House Mafia, I felt like my step was all sprung out after the beautiful mess that was Ultra. I thought I was EDM’d out. But my brain is prone to latching on a bunch of inaccuracies, so I’m leaving the thoughts and the feelings in this paragraph and focusing on the facts. Fact is, it was pretty intense.
Let’s get the demographics down. As you can imagine, I was just one of a few chocolate chips in a very large vanilla cookie: the standard H20 crowd, a lot of Randburg, and plenty of those individuals of the above-mentioned UJ sort. This is why we have stereotypes, people. They work. What I didn’t expect was walking out with the impression you’re never too old to EDM. All those faces worn down by decades of harsh elements and gravity had me feeling underage and delinquent. Just the way I like it.
And what’s a dance party without top-notch lighting, visuals and production? Not a dance party. But this wasn’t just any dance party. It was a circus of epic proportions. The very depressing talk of how this was an event for drugs manifested in some very entertaining and very sweaty drug faces. My little afro head bobbed along with fist-pumping and flailing hands, clenched jaws, ugly pouts and pale but very happy faces. Psychedelic. All of this while Mr. van Buuren played in an opaque bubble that was lifted by what had to be God’s hands an hour into his proposed 5 hour set.
Let me give you a quick rundown of the next 4 hours. An entire crowd singing the lyrics to John Legend’s “All of Me” (mind blown), acrobats, smiling balloons descending on the crowd, flashing lights, security guards on power trips, dirty beats, stank faces, sticky floors, bliss. One o’clock: end of set. Stage – black out. Stampede to my left. And there he is. Armin on an impromptu stage just meters away from me, ready to give us an extra hour… of pure vinyl. What a mighty good man.
In retrospect I wish I were a slightly-taller-than-average height, topless white man wearing Doc Martens, with a mist of sweat on my torso. That would’ve been badass. But I’m not. And for 6 hours of my life achieving this impossible ideal I once saw in a movie scene didn’t matter. All that mattered was the music.
EDM is not dead.