Industry of Cool

“And then it just becomes an industry of…cool. I’m tellin’ you, you’re coming along at a very dangerous time for rock ‘n’ roll. I mean, the war is over. They won. And 99% of what passes for rock ‘n’ roll these days, silence is more compelling.”

These are Lester Bangs’ words to the wannabe rock journalist William Miller in the 2000 film Almost Famous. And I can’t help but wonder, has this happened to dance music? Have we now entered the phase named, “Industy of Cool”?

People will always say how “it’s not like it used to be”, even in Human Traffic (made and set in 1999, around the time many regard as the pinnacle of trance music), we have two characters reminiscing of “Tom Toms” in 1991. It’s easy to look back on nights gone by with MDMA-tinted spectacles, but there does seem to have been a seismic shift in how we approach clubbing. Having become part of that slightly older generation of clubbers who turn their nose up at this goddamn awful new music (Skrillex, really?) I’ve come to realise that the music is only part of it.

Clubbers now approach a night as though they’re about to be part of a fashion spread in Mixmag (a magazine that used to accurately portray and reflect being a clubber, and now talks about Will.I.Am and the best tribal flannel shirts you can buy). Do the new generation of clubbers not want to have fun? Or have we become so obsessed with our looks that we can’t have fun unless preparing for hours, even days, and getting our make up done at MAC?

Remember when your friend would ring and say, “Got a spare ticket, you’re coming, I’ll pick you up in 15”, and you literally had time to throw something half decent on, attach a hair bobble to your wrist for later, grab some gum and apply a bit of Vaseline. At any point in the subsequent 8 hours whilst at the club did you think, “Really wish I’d applied more make up before heading out”? No. You didn’t. You know why? Because your fake eyelashes weren’t peeling off, your eyeliner wasn’t halfway down your face and your foundation wasn’t patchy. The most pressing thought you probably had when you looked in the mirror was, “Shouldn’t have done that other half, my jaw’s looking a bit dubious”.

However now we live in a shameless world of self-promotion. We have various online profiles portraying to the world who we want to be. You retweet all those hilarious, thought provoking or political things really clever, or really cool people like Brian Cox, Dubfire or Stephen Fry say in the first place, mainly to show the world, yes, I really am profound. On Instagram all you do is take photos of how cool your life is, how healthily you eat and what nice shoes you buy, (I am guilty). The worst however, is Facebook. We now live in fear that when we go out, that at least five of our friends are going to be there with either their new fancy SLR cameras (Good.) or their shockingly awful camera phones (Bad.), and so we need to primp, preen and fake tan accordingly. And this includes men. We then wait by Facebook for a few days, waiting for this awful photos to appear, finger hovering over where “untag” will be, because goddamnit, if the girls from high school see me looking anything less than perfect, it’ll be a tragedy.

Which leads me to my conclusion that now, going out isn’t about having fun in the club, it’s about looking like you had fun on Facebook. It’s about the weeks running up to the event, posting how excited you are to see… whoever is cool this week, at whichever warehouse venue is now the most ‘underground’.

We look at the people who are still into music genres of times gone by, laughing at them for not moving on, for holding onto a scene that’s dead. Laughing at how the clubs of said genres are full of really rough people, who look a state in photos. But who’s worse, these people who have stuck to music they love, regardless of what’s the ‘cool’ thing to do, doing things they way they always have, or the people who are so fickle they change what they listen to according to what Resident Advisor says?

You may look back at your photos from six, eight, ten years ago and cringe, but you also are hit with a pang of nostalgia because you know you are looking back on some of the best times of your life.

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