It’s not a hot take to say that 2020 has been a year of equal parts turmoil and revelation. Globally, the pandemic forced those with to finally listen to those without. From Black Lives Matter and the explicit failings of America to the senseless blood shed at Nagorno-Karabakh, it’s almost as if the noise deafened so that we could finally pay attention. That echo has been reflected locally in the electronic music scene.
Bassnectar, Space Jesus, Datsik, and most recently Ekali; the list of people (read: white men) ousted for abusing their positions in the community is only growing longer. It’s easy to sink into the feeling that power is poison, believe me. That we should kill our heroes in our heads and hearts so that it doesn’t hurt so much when they disappoint us.
But, I think this time is trying to show us another way.
I personally put 7 years into following Bassnectar. The events, the friends I made, the memories… I won’t lie and say that when the news dropped, I handled it well. The lives changed by his actions, the trauma caused, the laws and social contracts broken all came as a tidal wave. I stepped away from my support when the truth was revealed, but that didn’t heal the betrayal. I learned that even after what felt like the hard part, the separation, was over there was still the grief. I’m thankful for the people who showed me empathy while I healed. I’m grateful for a scene that revealed itself to be so much larger and more loving than the blinders I had ripped off.
There is a personal responsibility to not make idols out of men. We all know that people are not infallible, that blind worship is toxic behavior (eg: MAGA idiots, capitalists, cross fit). We need to be most critical of the things that we enjoy. Uplift the voices of the oppressed. Check in with ourselves and unpack our devotion.
But it’s not wrong to be a fan, to show support, or to care.
Vibe with me for a second. Remember when dance music was just fun? Before you knew about genre elitism/ gatekeeping/ the politics of who to like and to hate? Mutualism, dual-powers, ethosocialism; the idea has many names but it boils down to this: the power lies in what drew us all to the scene in the first place. Community.
Check my tweets, I’m the first to say that PLUR is dead. That we need accountability, support networks, and consequences for those who choose to abuse spaces built on escapism and fun.
A common, structured, and agreed upon set of ideals is exactly what we need.
Instead of peace, why not protection? Let’s give up blanket love for equity. Let’s reframe unity as education. Most importantly, fuck respect, we don’t need to respect abusers and predators (and this joke is only funny with three letters). We can use PEE to understand and combat POO, or Predators (using) Opportunity to Oppress.
Obviously, I’m not trying to make light of actual harm done to fans, family, and innocent parties who unfortunately trusted these monsters. This year has been dark in a lot of ways. Sexual assault, domestic abuse, racism, pedophilia, etc. are all disgusting acts that are unforgivable. We stand with, support, and believe the victims of these wolves in wook clothing. While we are in this transition period towards a safer scene, it’s important to remember that dance music is fun. That it’s recreational. That with every name now struck from the ledger, there are a hundred equally good, if not better, musicians who aren’t creeps.
Music is applied physics. Oscillating and compressing air into ethereal moments of vibrating ornamented sound. Emotion given voice. But music is also magic. Dance music inspires us to dream, create, and to love. It comforts us through loss, heartache, and hard times. It moves us beyond the conscious to the primal. Before words, there was dance. Anthropologically, before humanity as we know it, there was rhythm. Embody these words and know I mean it when I say: there is not a fucking man on the planet who can steal that away from you.