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11 times dance music broke our heart in 2016

It was a turbulent year for our culture

  • Words: Mixmag crew | Illustration: Eliot Wyatt
  • 20 December 2016
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1 The Pulse nightclub shooting

For decades, the dancefloor has served as a safe space. On June 12, eager parties sought exactly that as they donned their weekend best and headed to the LGBT venue Pulse in Orlando, Florida. It seemed unfathomable to imagine that a night meant for fun and dancing could end in the horrifying tragedy that was the loss of 49 innocent lives. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States. The attack struck many deeply as both a terrifying hate crime against the LGBT community, but also a statement threatening the safety that many seek in a night out among friends on a dancefloor.

Months later, Mixmag's US team arrived at EDC Orlando to run the Smirnoff House and decided it would only be right to invite the Pulse Nightclub DJs to join us for several sets to honor the city and its scars following the incident. Four DJs representing Pulse arrived, eager, excited and so thankful for the opportunity to play. One of the four, an original resident DJ named Ressie Cups, carried an infectious, bright attitude, making it nearly impossible to believe that she'd lived through the story she began to tell about being at the nightclub on the night of the shooting.

She recounted running as quickly as she could out of Pulse, clutching her girlfriend's hand, thinking that the first gunshot was merely a club spat gone wrong. "But then the shots didn't stop," she paused. As one of few staff allowed to reenter the club days after the shooting, she detailed the numerous bullet holes she saw in the walls. The floor, which had been removed due to there being so much blood. Later, Ressie Cups pulled aside her friend and fellow resident DJ (named DJ Flawless) and revealed a gift: a pair of vinyl slip mats with the names of all 49 victims killed at Pulse Nightclub written in rainbow colors. "Always, for them," she said.

Their story was chilling, but what stayed with me were their unbreakable spirit and excitement for the art of DJing, despite having lived through a real life horror story. Valerie Lee, US Digital Editor

2 The Oakland warehouse fire

100% Silk epitomises everything great about underground dance music. It's a DIY-run label that encourages developing artists and gives them an outlet for experimentation. It’s common now for labels to be cold, closed shops, with a “no demos” policy inscribed blankly on their websites. 100% Silk is the opposite, an open set of ears welcoming in burgeoning talents and, in turn, incubating communities. This makes the fire at Oakland art space The Ghost Ship during a 100% Silk label party at the start of December acutely devastating. 36 people died, in a building full of beautiful, passionate souls out to have a good time and celebrate their love for music. Dance music thrives off its tight knit collectives, and 100% Silk is one of the best proponents of this essential foundation of our culture. You can donate to the Fire Relief Fund for Victims of Ghostship Oakland Fire here. Patrick Hinton, Digital Staff Writer

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