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Politics and dance music are intertwined and there's nothing you can do about it

Telling DJs to "stick to the tunes" kind of misses the point of dance music entirely

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Illustration: Vassilis Skandalis
  • 15 February 2017

Certain dance music fans refuse to accept any degree of engagement in politics from artists, figures or publications linked to the scene. And that's perplexing.

I don’t mean eye-rolling at the occasional political hot take from a DJ who appears on the timeline and sounds a bit self-serving. What I’m referring to is an absolute rejection of the mere notion of politics being at all involved with dance music. You see this feeling expressed in Facebook groups, @ replies, Instagram comments, and it’s becoming increasingly prevalent. Two prime examples occurred recently.

Dave Clarke announced he would no longer perform in the US, citing the “Misogynist Narcissist Racist President in office” as the main factor in his decision. This sparked responses such as “Keep techno out of politics” and the razor-sharp retort of “Sorry, thought this was the Dave Clarke page, must have stumbled onto Billy Bragg by accident! What’s all this Politics doing here?” These comments aren’t taking issue with the motives of Clarke’s choice, but solely the fact he is engaging in political discourse at all.

A similar response occurred when Zedd tweeted a Thomas Jefferson quote and followed this up with a post showing solidarity to the airport protests in America. It’s clear why a Russian-born, German living in the US on a visa would have concerns about policy targeting immigrants, which is something that he should be allowed to voice. In the very least, because that hallowed US constitution protects free speech in all its fine and nefarious forms. But not so according to some of Zedd’s followers. “Stick to music instead of spouting political shite,” followed one reaction, while a Russian-speaking fan provided the feedback “don't mess in politics … I understand you want to have your say, but it is not necessary." These comments came days before Iranian-born DJ Darius Syrossian was forced to cancel US tour dates because of Trump's travel ban.

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