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Open Letters

An Open Letter To: Bartenders

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

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To the bartenders…

Your availability and presence through the night including the embers of the morning (and beyond), has not been taken for granted. You are unsung heroes, delivering fuel to all in need at the most ridiculous of hours, right till the very end. What’s more, your mission doesn’t end with the last track, instead, you soldier on till the station is spotless.  You, bartenders, are the real last ones standing.

You have the endurance to allow the night to go forth by motivating everyone that has crossed your path, with the energy and charisma to leave your mark and have the customers return for more, whether that may be for good or for worse… who cares! Your skills at pouring that refreshing gin & tonic amazes me every time, I want it, I want more of it and sometimes you’re even willing to grant me that wish. To me, you are the divine gatekeeper of my foolishness and self-respect.

Moe Bartender Meoko

I’d like to apologise on behalf of all us who enjoy the pastime activity of so-called clubbing. There are many who disregard your expertise as a mere necessity to the operation, but they fail to acknowledge that drinking and dancing have gone hand in hand since… well since forever! You are true patrons to your trade, inheriting and mastering skills from a long lineage of predecessors, bringing the art of bartending through the ages, from the candlelit taverns of the midcentury to the dark and smoky rooms of today. It’s interesting (and scary) to imagine the world without you.

Us party-goers need to acknowledge these individuals for their excellence as industry professionals. We could alter the way in which their work is valued, and perhaps further improve the way they are rewarded…

Bartender Open Letter Vintage

Words by Alexander Fetokaki

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An Open Letter To….Misogynists in the DJ industry

By Festival, Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

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“You’re pretty good for a girl!”

“Are you warming up for your boyfriend?”

“Let me show you how that works….”

Any female DJ will have had some comment aimed at them that makes them stop and think….excuse me? During mixed gender b2bs the men will hog the decks, even at house parties the boys will unplug your phone from the aux cable and swap in theirs, proclaiming “girls just don’t really know good music!”, as they play a song produced by Hannah Wants. 

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We all know the issues surrounded sexism in club culture and female DJS: harassment in clubs, sexist comments on Boiler Room, a lack of representation in the media such as DJ Mag, and the list goes on. Although talk on the subject matter does mean progression, and workshops such as this one and all-female collectives are definitely encouraging women to get involved there’s still a crazy amount of bias with regards to club and festival bookings. 

I, for one, have not been lucky enough to live somewhere with any encouraging female collectives circulating, and have therefore ran in the male DJ circles, always being paid less, picked when no man was available, and generally placed in less serious nights and earlier positions. Although I love the art enough to not let this discourage I’m sure this is plenty to force some other women give up. Patronising comments and unwanted advice are the sounds of my DJ career, my personal favourite being “all you need to do is use your ears….”. I don’t even think they know they’re doing what they’re doing, it’s ingrained in their frail male egos to put me down so they feel better (of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, some have given me genuinely good advice and oppurtunities, it’s just a minority case).

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So let me ask you a question male DJs, why do you think you’re better? Have you done a scientific study and deduced your ears actually ARE biologically better than mine? Do you have some 5th sense that means you naturally mix in a superior way? Or is it just because you’re big and strong and can handle the technology better? Because I’m pretty sure if we were all blindfolded you would not be able to tell a male and female DJ apart.

There’s the other side of things, a difficult argument with regards to female DJs dressing in a ‘sexual’ way (e.g Nina Kraviz in the bathtub) and stereotyping themselves as simply eye-candy rather than a good DJ. But this is FALSE, the stereotype doesn’t need to exist unless you let it, being attractive and a good DJ is not an oxymoron surprisingly enough! Girls can do what they want, just like you can. If you can take your top of during a set (please don’t) then so can we.

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So next time one of your female friends asks if she can try out your decks, don’t laugh or patronise her, give her a demo and you’ll quickly see that we’re just as interested and talented as men, if we were just given the right level of encouragement.

By Laura Hely Hutchinson

An Open Letter to…Girls in Club Toilets

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

an open letter copy

When I begrudgingly dragged myself away from the sweaty, pumping dance floor to the equally sweaty, depressing club toilets, I wasn’t exactly elated when I saw the length of the queue. This was one of these moments in time where I wished I could’ve been born with male genitalia, allowing me to quietly and quickly slide into the haven of the mens toilets where no queue ever seems to appear and where you strictly avoid all contact with other humans apart from an occasional necessary “alright mate”. Why should my weak bladder mean I miss out on half the night?

I took a deep breath, looked around me…and suddenly everything seemed different. Girls complimenting each others clothes, girls holding back their friend’s (or a stranger’s) hair, offering out gum, gossiping, bitching, crying, cubicles which seem to hold 10 girls….a hundred different experiences in one were occurring around me in this dingy, dirty bathroom. 

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You suddenly feel like you’re bonding with each person in the room: shared eye contact with the girl next to you secretly laughing at someone on all fours searching for her phone, passing toilet paper under to the next cubicle, asking if you can borrow some vaseline/ gum, agreeing with the girl next to you at the sink that all the men are being extra creepy tonight.

Somebody asks me for advice on the boy she likes, “He keeps ignoring me tonight, he’s being really off, what do you think that means?”. Only in a place like this would she trust someone whom she knows nothing of their relationship history, for all she knows I’ve had 4 failed marriages, but come on now, nobody would break the girl code and give you advice they weren’t 100% sure would work would they?! I promise I’ll wing-woman her later, knowing full well I’d never see her hopeful face again when we entered back into the crowd. 

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This situation was actually the best possible outcome. There of course have been times, where I’ve had the unfortunate timing of ending up behind/ next to a cryer. Yes, any girl will have just had hundreds of flashbacks to crying girls in club toilets. There’s a big gap in the market for a Sociology dissertation studying how many girls cry in club toilets every night and what their general reasons (insert pie chart: romance, bitch fight, not sure just a bit too drunk, smashed phone etc.)…I for sure would be very interested to know. The drunk crier is not as simple as the basic advice situation, with this you feel you must aid her back to a mildly happy state of no tears, and if you’re especially unlucky and the girl has lost all her friends, this can involve a continuation BEYOND the toilets (WHAT?!?! Surely not) (buying her a drink/ dancing/ requesting all the powerful independent women songs you can possibly think of).

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When the time eventually came and I reached the front of the queue I felt a weird feeling I hadn’t expected…disappointment. Did I really have to leave this zoo that I had become a part of? I had started to truly feel like I belonged here, in this safe-space and men free zone. I said goodbye to the friend I had made in the queue, adding her on Facebook and promising we’d meet up for girly cocktails as soon as possible. I then quickly used the cubicle, peacefully smiling to myself as I read the graffiti and an angry girl banged on the door shouting “HURRY THE F*** UP”, and as I left the toilet to rejoin my male friends I felt older and wiser, knowing they would never experience anything like female toilets.

By Laura Hely Hutchinson

 

An Open Letter… to ‘the DJ worshipper’

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

an open letter

Dear DJ worshipper,

It’s a cliché but it’s true, clubbing is an escape from our often boring everyday lives, and the last thing we should be doing is going from staring at a computer screen in the office all day to going out and staring at a DJ all night (I mean, are they really that good looking?). Is popping that extra modafinil to stop you blinking worth it just to make sure you don’t miss the DJ slightly twitching the EQ knobs? Aren’t you going to regret missing the hilarious sight of your best friend cracking out the worm during a minimalist techno set because you’re too busy making sure your incredibly original snapchat story of DJ Nobodyhasevenheardofme is broadcast to the ten people who’ll bother to watch it?

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One would think the cult of the DJ was avoided in the dark, dingy, visually devoid warehouses we’ve grown to love. We all know what a mixer looks like, and unless there’s some incredibly impressive lighting and visuals behind the booth or the DJ’s wearing a neon morph suit surely there’s more interesting alternatives to staring in the same direction all night. We’ve been wired to get irritated if somebody tall stands in front of us and blocks our connection with the DJ, programmed to give the guy a shove and an “oi mate do you mind?”, but our connection should be with the crowd around us instead, sharing the joy of the music together and getting so lost in it that we almost forget that the music doesn’t mix by itself. By all means give the DJ your respects, or ask what the name is of the banger they’ve just dropped, but don’t be that fan girl/ boy staring in awe like you’re at a One Direction concert.

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It may not be in our human nature to make eye contact with people when busting shapes, and I for one easily get embarrassed by my general lack of coordination and sweatiness, but if we can’t all share in releasing our most ridiculous moves in a club, where can we? Can’t we return to a time where our funniest and most vivid memory of a night out is when Sarah/ John/ Paul lost their shit when DJ Bitchface randomly dropped

in the middle of an acid house set rather than coming home with only a vague memory that the DJ may or may not have smiled at us?

By Laura Hely Hutchinson

An Open Letter…to ‘The Last Ones Standing’

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

an open letter

 

To – the last ones standing…

Your presence on the cavernous dance-floor during the depths of the morning hasn’t gone unnoticed each weekend. Although a majority of the crowd filter out during the embers of a party, you are the ones that motivate the DJ to keep smiling, keep spinning and to save some of the best and most memorable selections until last. You have inspired the ‘extended set’ and ‘one more tune!’

In similar fashion to illegal UK rave culture, to ‘dance til the police come’ you are the ones dancing ’til the lights come on’…and I salute you because you are the troopers with a never say die attitude. Your early morning escapades are probably fuelled by the excitement of ecstasy and the fear of finishing the fun, but if the music is still thumping, the dance-floor should still be pumping, and it is, thanks to you!

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The concept of the ‘after-party’ has been devised for you, who genuinely want to ‘keep on going’ into the peak of the afternoon and evening. Yes, your legs and back are aching, your mind is doing somersaults, and your desire levels are filtering out, but you are united with your fellow revellers and you can still contain a smile on your face. The passing thought of your bed is a blurred memory, that can wait though until the fun is over…

You’ve now got to the stage of sombre speaking in the smoking area of the after-party. ‘What’s your name?’ Where are you from?’ ‘Who did you see tonight?’ Yes, the conversation is hollow, but your still staying strong, and not everything is lost…the DJ’s are lifting the tempo inside to an intimate array of flamboyant foot shakers, your not leaving yet… When the dust settles though, you can go home again, ready to face the mundane week ahead, reclaiming your weekend medal of being ‘the last one standing.

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See you at an after-party soon?

 

By Sam Quilter

 

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An Open Letter… to ‘The Final Tune Thief’

By Festival, Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

an open letter

To – the final tune thief

Some people really do take their jobs too seriously.

We’ve all been there; your knees are aching after a jaw dropping set by your favourite DJ. It’s nearly closing time and the tunes are due to finish shortly, but no way is he winding this one down, and that’s just the way we like it.

The final record spins and the lights come up, only to be followed by the ‘one more tune’ chant. After some careful negotiation, the DJ gets the all clear to go ahead and spin that one cut we all know he’s been saving ‘til the end, the crowd gets to lose their mind one last time, and everyone leaves with a satisfied grin on their face.

Embedded into clubbing culture, it is almost ritual to play this game of cat and mouse between revelers and management, one that we love so much, as we know we’re always going to wriggle past and win.

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But not this time. This time we get caught…

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On the night I am speaking of, the story unfolded as usual, and the crowd is hyped up on the promise of some belting closing dance tackle. It is the final set of the final day of a festival, and I’m sure you can see that no one wants it to reach its inevitable end. As a steady countdown of how long is left to party is regularly announced over a microphone, it’s obvious that the DJ isn’t the only one watching the clocks. ‘I’m going to squeeze one last track out of this, let’s have it’ or something equally as morale boosting is finally muttered, leaving the crowd thirsty for a showering of beats – but,as the DJ sets up his closing record, giving us a taster of what’s in store, you slowly fade the sound to an uninspiring silence.

Unaware of your intentions the dancers wait, in a feverish anticipation, fuel being constantly added to their fire as the crowd builds with a nervous energy… only to be ground to a halt at the sobering realization that there really is no more.

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As a DJ coming to an end of a set, I can only imagine it fills you with as much anxiety as starting one off – what you are about to do is going to leave a freshly imprinted impression in your clubbers minds, and fuel the conversation at the after parties to follow. The responsibility of the success of this leaving impression does not lie solely in the hands of the tune selector however, but is a two way operation between the DJ and you, the guy in charge of sound.

So I ask you this – why let someone go out with a fizzle when they could have an almighty explosion?

Maybe next time, just don’t check your watch.

When a tune lasts only a matter of minutes, how are you to know if it goes over ever so slightly?

 

Ignorance is bliss…

 

At the end of the day, of course you’re only doing your job. And I understand the need to abide by careful licensing laws – noise is an easy complaint that can lead to club closure, which is the last thing anyone wants…

 

But sometimes, it’s ok for the rules to be broken,

haha

 

By Eileen Pegg

 

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An Open Letter To: All The Moaners In Society

By Festival, Hot Off The Press, Open Letters, Reviews

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To all the moaners in society.

A soured society. A community that cannot live together anymore. People complaining about the smallest, most insignificant things that annoy them. The sound of children playing forces a playground to close. Judges have to settle disputes between neighbours and boules players, because of the completely outrageous noise of the balls clanging into each other. A skate park is threatened with closure because one family complains about the cacophonous noise of young skaters trying to land their first kick-flip. These are some examples of the daily complaints made by people who cannot handle living with other people anymore. When did this become acceptable?

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The most damaging and potentially dangerous consequence of these complaints though is the threat it poses to the music and events industry. In my own, and probably many others’, experience I have witnessed countless parties closed down by neighbours’ cranky complaints. Single complaints now have the ability to shut down thriving party scenes. Nothing is sacred to the police. A city full of noise, playing children, festivities, dancing and socialising can all be ended by that one, perpetually obstinate neighbour, who is cynical enough to feel entitled to complain and ruin thousands of peoples’ fun.

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Take my home country: Belgium. A fantastic club that used to regularly host my friends and I, Silo, faced closure because of a neighbourly complaint about the noisy ‘disturbances’ he witnessed on Saturday nights. The consequence of this was that this club, this safe home to hundreds of party people every weekend, had to close in 2011. A crushing blow to Belgium’s party community.

It isn’t just the small players that are at risk either; bigger festivals now face problems in ageing societies that don’t understand the centrality of dance music to youth culture. The world famous Tomorrowland faced closure this summer. More than 100,000 festival-goers, countless small enterprises and local businesses received severe complaints from a tiny minority of families who felt disturbed by such a big festival. Luckily for Tomorrowland, it won the battle this time. But next time it might not be so lucky.

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Across the channel in London, the iconic dance-spot Madam Jojo’s faced closure because of a violent incident (that most say was exaggerated). Everyone knows the real reason behind the closure is the fact that the neighbourhood is changing and that the council and wealthy property developers driving Soho’s gentrification simply don’t want a late night drinking presence anywhere in the neighbourhood. For the very same reasons, the London institution that is Fabric has recently faced closure. 

These are just some examples of an everyday problem. We do understand that a healthy society is one that works in social equilibrium. Where you should put in as much as you take out, and constantly communicate with each other, because, hey, living together is not easy. But mercilessly closing down venues, playgrounds and sports fields every single day is not the solution. A cruel reality is that many of these venues have been thriving long before the residents making the complaints moved in. 

Why can a minority of complainers and moaners close down the fun and free time of so many people? One of the main drivers has to be the harsh economic climate that has gripped Europe since 2007. Research has shown that the negative, hopeless image of the future perpetuated by financial hardship increases the likelihood of a disconnected, inharmonious and miserable society; which in turn inevitably leads to more complaints. But the crisis cannot last forever. Economically, better days will come.

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Another problem is the aging population in Western Europe. The baby boom in the years after the Second World War ensures that across Europe young, mobile people who use their free time to enjoy the city, the neighbourhood, parties, good music and each other are heavily in the minority. Older generations, those that dominate the political and financial establishment, see anything that doesn’t enhance their quiet retirement as an irrelevance. This has fuelled the legislation and campaigns against younger generations, and is sadly a conflict that we will face even more in the future.

Are there any solutions? Better communication between different generations would improve the situation immeasurably, and the government bears a big responsibility in this. If party people experience the closure of their favourite club or festival, an alternative must be ready. People have the fundamental right to stop worrying and enjoy music, dancing and each other and the noise of clubs, festivals and parties provides this escape. Silencing them is not the answer.

 

So, government, neighbours and people, please do not forget the youth!

 

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An Open Letter To: Those that make up Room 2

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

AN OPEN LETTER

To those that make up ‘Room 2’,

The DJ’s, the dancers, the promoters and all those that lie in between – this is a huge thank you for bringing an essential ingredient to underground nightlife that never should be forgotten.

Of course, the main room has its purpose. The bread and butter to any successful night, the main room provides the pull and the place to see the headlining act. This room is why you bought your ticket, why you chose to go out that night and where you can lose yourself in an audiovisual display of lights, sounds and sights.

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(Image credit – IGR::Photo https://IGRPhoto.co.uk/ )

Given the choice however, I’ve never been the type to stay in the main room all night long… maybe its due to slight claustrophobic tendencies, but after a while the overwhelming intensity of it all causes for a spot of nightclub exploration.

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There reaches a point in every night where I make my way out of the sea of sweaty dancers, taking a moment to gather my thoughts in the club corridor when the sound of twisted beats murmuring in the distance can only mean one thing, that Room 2 is close, and it draws me in every time.

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Here, these 4 walls are a place for experimentation. Although the specifics of these vary from each event, they have a number of practical and important uses that any club would be silly not to open up the side room for its revelers, and this is an importance that you recognized. For this I thank you.

Thank you for providing a meeting point for solo members that have lost their crew. Lose yourself a little too deep in the main area and you can guarantee a trip to the side will result in a reunion like no other; if not with those you started the night with but long lost party pals of shindigs past will continue the night in good company.

Thank you for providing a resting place, a middle ground that takes you off your feet and out of the depths of the dance floor when the smoking area wont cut it just yet – just because our feet hurt doesn’t mean we have to stop fist pumping.

Perhaps the most important thank you should be saved for supplying a training ground for those who will one day play the main room, but for now are providing raw, mind bending cuts straight from the heart, the type that are untarnished by years of playing the circuit; the up and coming DJs on offer here have a musical taste that is nothing but personal passion.

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(Image credit JADphotography https://www.jamesad.com/)

So once again, I’d like to show my appreciation to those who never fail to forget the value of options, for here is where the real club characters dwell. The tune selection is like no other, dance moves can get freaky, lights and décor can create a whole other world and most importantly, we all have a place simply to get weird – which is why we came out in the first place, right?

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Written by Eileen Pegg

 

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An Open Letter To: Those who organise set times

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

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Hey there event organisers, 

First of all, thank you, and thanks to the rest of your event team, for having organised such a mouthwatering line up for your very special event. Looking at the set times though, a few DJs seem somewhat out of place… The headliner playing first? The resident playing after the headliner? Did you take the DJ names from a hat and randomly place them in the schedule? 

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I go to your event, and see that indeed one of the headliners is warming things up instead of the resident. That’s cool, I guess it makes sense to get one of the headliners to play first, in hopes of pulling in an early crowd. The headliner does this brilliantly, as his beautiful techno sounds magically entices more and more people to the dancefloor, eventually filling up every bit of space. His “set time” ends and who takes over? a disco playing DJ, who completely breaks the rhythm. He leads the techno crowd astray by playing disco tunes and gets the crowd singing along to “Slave to the Rhythm”. Did you not check disco DJ’s label roster before sticking him in between two techno DJs?

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He finishes his super jolly set, and now it’s all up to the poor guy who’s next on the line up to bring the vibe back to the darkened depths of techno. It’s not easy, and it takes some time to create a smooth transition. Don’t get me wrong, that other DJ was super talented, and disco vibes are always good fun, but there is a time and a place. Playing Grace Jones in between a techno night kinda kills the vibe, unless you’re a super talented wizard and can pull that kind of stuff off. I admire and encourage those eclectic sets, but not at the expense of that flow. DJs on the line up should at least share one significant factor in common to create smooth transitions between each artist, be it a record label or music style in common.

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Each set time slot is as important as the other, be it a warm up set or a closing one. And there is nothing wrong with being first on the line up, as we’ve touched about in our previous Meoko article about the importance of a good warm up set. 

Read up or tune in on who plays best at certain times…Don’t break the flow!

Cheers, 

A raver that appreciates good music on the dancefloor. 

 

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An Open Letter To: The Raving Originals

By Hot Off The Press, News, Open Letters

AN OPEN LETTER

To the Raving Originals,

I know it must be strange to be stuck in a cultural limbo, through no-ones fault other than that bastard father time, but isn’t it great that our culture has lasted long enough for someone to feel ‘it’s not like it used to be’.

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Where other musical genres have eclipsed a decade only to be banished to the vaults of nostalgia, dance music just continues to keep on going.

As you have matured, the practices of clubbing have aged too, bringing with it the natural changes that happen with time…and isn’t it great that it just keeps on evolving rather than reaching a stagnant extinction!

So please, don’t worry, everything will be ok.

We will look after the nightlife with great care, and try our hardest to preserve what made it so good in the first place, but also not stifle the next wave of progression.

‘Not being like it used to be’ is perhaps a fair comment, the clubs, DJs and sounds in favour are no doubt different to what it was 20 years ago, but it is unfair to say that we ‘don’t get it’ like you did, that we ‘don’t understand’ the history.

Granted there are those jumping on the cool train, approaching electronic music as the latest thing to attend to gain brownie points and Instagram likes, but there are also the dedicated fans; Hoards of us fighting off the weekend blues, wrapped up in a duvet in a dark room, eagerly hunting down techno documentaries and rave memoirs of the past to find out more about how what just happened over the last 48 hours came to be.  

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With so much knowledge out there in books, films, documentaries and articles nowadays it would be rude not to take advantage of the luxury of learning!

The fundamental aspects remain the same, as King Weatherall recently said:

 ‘It’s still the basic concept that you knew as a whippersnapper, it’s a square or oblong room, with speakers and flashing lights, and drug addled teenagers seeking transcendence through repetitive beats.  

And it is this that holds us together, and is the beautiful thing about this crazy past time called clubbing.

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We are currently riding the wave of the pop culture storm, which will eventually turn to another genre of music before we know it. Think of it as a trial period for new recruits, an easily accessible taster session, and when dance music falls from grace it will filter out only the real heads, spawning a whole new exciting era which I can’t wait for!

So please, don’t loose faith. It is by speaking to those who were there when I only wish I could have been, who are responsible for spawning my passion for the culture and I urge you to keep on feeding us with information.

And I also encourage you to continue attending the nights we are running, listen to the music we are making and involve yourself in the future of the scene we are all part of!

Catch you on a dancefloor sometime soon?

With love,

The Millenial Clubber x 

 

 

Written By Eileen Pegg

 

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