Smile Politely

A Case of Mistaken Identity

Recently, a Daily Illini article about “raves” linked dubstep with ecstasy use in its opening paragraph. I take issue with the use of “rave” in the article. As a good friend once said, if you are at a promoted event in a bar and you paid a cover to get in, it’s not a rave. Even though the article referenced a rave in Chicago, I suspect the “raves” discussed are, in fact, not raves but rather shows at bars promoted as raves.

Regardless of the word choice, I couldn’t help but feel immensely irritated by the article, which implies that all any of us needs to do is find a dubstep show and we will find cuddly, fuzzy, fucked-up folks who will sell us drugs that will change our life for the better.

Drug use by people in a bar isn’t really covering new ground and neither is associating drug use with a genre of music — a fact that I am reminded of yet again as Sid and Nancy plays in the background while I finish this article. But now, anyone who books, plays, or attends a dubstep show in this town will have to contend with both moronic, naive, drug-seekers with no interest in the music and undercover cops looking for the previously-mentioned newbies.

But most distressingly, the article wasn’t about the music and I think anyone who reads it — or those who contributed quotes to it — would agree. The article is solely about finding drugs, obtaining drugs, taking drugs, enjoying drugs. The music is irrelevant. The proof is right in the text:

He still might attend more raves in the future, though. He thinks it’s possible to enjoy a rave without being on ecstasy, although he tried it once and it was boring.

Definitely not there for the music. The author has totally confused drug culture for music culture. And though the Beatles took acid and Cobain shot up heroin, I think distilling their music and cultural impact down to just their drug use wouldn’t represent who they were as artists or musicians. Nor would it give us any idea about their music. I’ve never used heroin, but I can still enjoy Billie Holiday. And I don’t need to use ecstasy to enjoy electronic music.

Despite its negative impact, the DI article did elicit one positive reaction from me. It made me frustrated enough about the representation of electronic music in the media that I’ve decided to write for Smile Politely. Rather than bitching about the DI‘s coverage, my time is probably better spent writing about what I love about the local scene. I want to highlight weekly residencies like 80s night at Monkey or Open Decks at Radio Maria. I can interview local electronic music producers like Kirkwood West or Ian Procell and share their new tracks and mixes. I can talk with promoters like Harsh and Belly about special events like Common Mind or Hit It Run.

Let’s talk about bounce and techno and slow-mo sleazy 100 bpm new disco and trap and bass music and hip hop and juke and dubstep (no … not dustup, spellcheck) and house and techno and drum ‘n bass and future garage and booty house and jungle and everything else that isn’t popping into my head at the moment. Let’s bring DJ-porn “gear talk” out of the closet and into the open. Let’s set up a bare-knuckle boxing match between the laptop DJs and the vinyl addicts. And, ultimately, I think these kinds of discussions are always going to be more interesting than ZOMG DRUGS!

Oh, and let’s start the betting pool on the next gig for CU’s cave-dwelling DJ — an elusive, yet not quite dirty, bird previously seen in the habitat of downtown Champaign…

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