Dance music having an image problem is nothing new; it’s long been stigmatised for an array of reasons. But for the most part we like to think this is an outsider view from outmoded eyes that are leering in. Figures with conservative attitudes have dismissed the value of the scene because they find the idea of staying out all night dancing distasteful. From their point of view, it’s all illegal raves and police clashes, excessive intoxication and addiction.
Anyone with an appreciation for dance music or a basic knowledge of its history will recognise the cultural importance it carries. From the role of clubs as safe spaces for oppressed minorities and the thematic promotion of unity to the constant innovation pushed by producers, our scene has largely been a force for good and its impact is something to be proud of, regardless of what the fustier corners of society believe.
That said, it’s patently not all been perfect, and this rose-tinted eulogising erases the suffering and mistreatment that has occurred and continues to do so. Perhaps it’s because of the internet, social media and the greater visibility these things lend, but in recent years it seems like the negative aspects of the dance scene have really ramped up, especially in regards to cultural insensitivity, and these instances are being perpetrated by insiders.
There’s now no scope for rallying around with an us-versus-them mentality and pretending that everything’s golden and that any criticism levelled at our community is from out-of-touch governmental officials or police, because looking closer to home we’re seeing examples on a regular basis of ignorant attitudes and problematic behaviour from prominent artists, label bosses, promoters, and so on. It’s not always malicious, and offence is often probably not intended, but that doesn’t negate the fact that insensitive acts are being committed and greater mindfulness is needed to cut this out.