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Underground Dance

by hardyshrub 

Posted: 18 September 2004
Word Count: 538
Summary: A short opinionated article which appeared on USA based music-website. The article was prompted by my own experiences as a DJ and my own concerns (as well those of others) regarding the direction of the Dance Music scene.

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Underground Dance

“Underground”. Within the ever-expanding circles of the dance music fraternity, this one word has come to represent much more than just its dictionary entry. Probably the most over-used adjective in dance music, the very notion of being underground has became an enigma, whilst everyone and his dog continues to throw the word around as if it were going out of fashion! In fact it would seem that any DJ, producer or promoter could assume the mantle of cool by merely professing an association with the underground.

Dance music in its current form has become a worldwide commercial phenomenon. It features heavily in the national charts of almost every modern country across the globe. It is used to advertise or promote an enormous range of products from cars to clothes and yet this is the same music that sparked such paranoia amongst the government of the UK,
as well as other nations that they tried to ban it!

The lesson here is that no matter how underground its beginnings, if a movement has a universal appeal, it will at some point be noticed by major labels, and with a little watering down here and there, be assimilated into the mainstream. This product will then be touted as the “flag-bearer” of dance and will herald the release of further derivative tunes all fitting neatly into the formulaic confines of Pop music. You only have to look at the bastardisation of Trance to see this at work. Like any other form of modern music, real treasure can be found if you dig deeper. Independent genre-specific labels are springing up from the grass roots of the industry around the world. We would do well to remember that before the current four-four mindset, dance covered a rich variety of styles. People were dancing to funk and jazz as well as a plethora of other forms. We mustn’t forget soul either, for what is music without soul? It would be rather akin to the sun without warmth – you can see it but you can’t feel it. These influences are playing a major part in revitalizing a now established 15-year-old scene.

In places as far apart as the Baltic and Japan, Jazz is being explored and experimented with by a whole new generation and over the last few years the nu-jazz genre has been born. Dance music doesn’t have to be formulaic. Across the US and Europe, house music is rediscovering the funk. Armed with proper bass lines, a splash of musicality and a dose of individuality, underground labels are endeavouring to re-inject some quality into what was becoming a tired format. Dance music doesn’t have to be robotic.

The question of whether something is underground or not is now largely irrelevant, especially in the light of the information revolution of the Internet. The more important question pertains to whether we produce and promote quality. It is to this end that the dance music industry should be working and if there is still a true underground dance music movement, then it is the duty of every self- proclaimed member of this fraternity to push the envelope of that ideal, rather than pander to the fickle whims of the MTV-led corporations of Pop.

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Comments by other Members

CheekyGrin at 16:07 on 08 November 2004  Report this post
It reads well and makes a valid point. There's not really much more I can add.

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