The club’s all atwitter because it’s featuring a Real DJ doing Real DJ things. Instead of just playing songs, he’s laying down individual beats, blending and mixing them as he goes. The result is a lyric-less blur of ambient industrial noise that I find utterly uninteresting, even while appreciating the skill that goes into it. At best, he uses drum tracks from familiar songs and it gives me the same sense of vague irritation that a radical remix does: this reminds me of a song I’d like to dance to, without actually being that song, or making me want to dance.
It reminds me spending time with the physics students and engineers, who, in their spare time, would get together and “art.” They’d bring whatever instruments they knew how to play and bang out tuneless songs on a violin, guitar, clarinet and slide whistle, or they’d find a canvas or object and everyone would paint whatever they wanted on it. I took my friend Deb, who’s an artist, and we were both bored to tears.
This confused me, because creativity! Making stuff! Why weren’t we into this? Upon reflection, our pastimes tended toward roleplaying games and boardgames, and there was a lightbulb moment when I realized that we spent our lives in that creative, freeform space, so when it was time to escape it, we went to a place that had rules and boundaries. Conversely, the engineers spent their days in rigid spaces, and so to them it was an escape to throw all of that right out the window.
Now I extrapolate and feel that I dance the same way. Sure, it’s freeform, and I’m terrible at actual dances as some failed swing-dancing classes will attest. But I like the songs that I know, that I can learn forward and backward, and then dance my way within the framework that they set up. I can do whatever I want to “Hellraiser” but much of it is dictated by the knowledge that it’s building up to the big BOOOOOOM and drop-silence in the middle of the song. Whatever happens during “Timekiller,” there’s a tiny full-stop after the third chorus that has to be acknowledged. There’s a little “zwick!” noise that repeats all through “Wartime” that sets up the structure of every dance to it, whether I’m bouncing or gliding. And so on.
And so, the freeform DJ mixes don’t do anything for me. They go on and on, with possibly interesting beats here and there, but no predictable structure, and my feet are not moved. Remixes often provide similar frustration, because then it’s the structure, the thing that drives my dance, that’s changed unexpectedly. The song itself is Not Doing It Right. The result: conflict. Irritation. A loss of happy brain space.
Dang. Now I want to dance.