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Meet me in the bathroom: Dance music needs more rock stars

I want my DJs to be the last one standing at the afterparty

  • Words: Duncan Dick | Illustrations: Calum Heath
  • 26 October 2017

All things considered, dance music in 2017 is fucking awesome. We have to be wary about the gentrification shutting down clubs, and people still playing old-skool garage sets, but generally it's smashing all comers with the precision of a chef in a hipster café attacking an avocado. Festivals are more numerous and more incredible than at any era since the days of the Druids, amazing new clubs are rising as quickly as the old ones are shut down, talent drips from every orifice of the internet and our sound is the coolest, most innovative, around.

But we can't get complacent. Not so long ago, electronic music was pretty much on life support. Just after the Millennium an old style of music, based on primitive instruments made of dead animals and trees, was rediscovered in a crumbling metropolis known to locals as 'Noo Yoik'. Bands like The Strokes, Interpol and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs exploded onto the scene with a look, a sound and an attitude that made the city, and their brand of rock music, the coolest thing in the universe.

All we had to offer at the time was tubby house legends, electroclash (good haircuts, 10 decent tunes), trance, furry boots, and people with Lego in their hair. It was carnage. A massacre. A contest so bloody and one-sided that it made the Loot Train Battle in Game Of Thrones look like the final of Masterchef. The result? A generation that should have been popping pills and staying up late dancing to 4/4 beats squeezed themselves into drainpipe jeans, popped pills and stayed up late dancing to shite like The Libertines. Only when a Manhattan Project-style team - put together from great minds like James Murphy, Erol Alkan, McCaulay Culkin, Mixmag's then Fashion Editor, Mylo and whoever convinced Klaxons to cover 'Not Over Yet' - managed to synthesise 'nu rave' were we able to beat the guitar-botherers back into their place. The Strokes and their ilk, you see, were rock stars. Stylish, decadent, charismatic, the bane of boyfriends, bouncers, managers and anyone who tried to tell them what to do, with an attitude of ice cool detachment off-stage that contrasted with their incandescent performances on it. And if dance music in 2017 lacks anything, it's rock stars.

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