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Friday, June 19, 2015

Dancefloor Justice: Prejudice Has No Place In Dance Music

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 9:00 AM

click to enlarge GERARDO LAZZARI
  • Gerardo Lazzari
You know what bullshit smells like, right? Here's what it looks like:

click to enlarge screen_shot_2015-06-18_at_1.42.17_pm.png

Some context: This is the tepid non-apology offered up by one Tanner Ross (no, he's not a leftover character from Full House — he's a third- or fourth-string producer of paint-by-numbers "deep house"), who sent a series of viciously nasty homophobic tweets yesterday to Andrew Ryce, a writer and editor for electronic music magazine Resident Advisor.

click to enlarge 11406222_10153503290478694_1752484177307901075_o.jpg

This comes barely a week after a long-winded homophobic rant by Lithuanian producer Ten Walls summarily ended his career in the span of one weekend (which garnered enough media attention that the President of Lithuania made a decidedly non-committal non-statement about it). The reaction by the electronic music community was remarkably swift: Media outlets began spreading word of his rant on Saturday morning; by mid-day Sunday, festivals around the globe were canceling on him, and shortly thereafter, Coda Music Agency, his booking agent, had dropped him from its roster. (In a nice twist of fate, Ten Walls was scheduled to play for local promoter Lights Down Low at the end of July — after this fiasco, Lights Down Low promptly booted him from the lineup and replaced him with LGBT rapper Mykki Blanco.)

The Ten Walls incident, and this latest from Tanner Ross, is cause for reminder: Electronic dance music (note that I'm using this phrase generally here — I'm not referring to "EDM" specifically, which is simply same-old pop music wearing newly fashionable clothes) is queer music. From its roots way back in the disco era, electronic dance music was written by and for LGBT people. (In another fun twist of fate, Resident Advisor — the magazine Andrew Ryce writes for, whose harassment prompted this article — published a long, in-depth exploration of dance music's queer history, which is absolutely worth reading.)

Dancefloors are, in their own way, sacred spaces — places where people of all stripes can cut loose, let go, and lose control. For many LGBT people, dancefloors were survival mechanisms — one of the only places in the world where they could express their identity to whatever extent they wished or needed. When people understand and respect this freedom of expression and self-determination on the dancefloor, they become transcendent spaces, a place where the individual can safely be swept up in the collective. It's no wonder house music is rife with references to spirituality.

So let these unfortunate incidents be a reminder — dance music is queer music. And I don't mean it's for LGBT people only — it's queer in the broadest, most general sense: For the outsiders, for the freaks, for the cast-offs, for those who don't fit in, for the weird ones, for the lesser-off, for the lesser-abled, for anyone and everyone whose lot in life isn't squeaky-clean and is in need of a space to move their body, sweat, and lose themselves. Everyone is welcome to join, for certain — but they need to know this and respect this.

See you on the dancefloor.
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Chris Zaldua


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