Why We Dance

Words by Alexander. Photography by Def0cused.

This week I have seen a vocal call from the dance music industry for the government to engage the continued uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of the UK night-time economy. Under the #LetUsDance banner the government is being challenged in regard to its failure to include dance music in its 1.57 billion pound injection into the arts. Historically, successive governments have opposed the rave scene from its inception, with what some feel a homogenised version of rave being what we have today in sterile licensed spaces owing to legislation passed since the late ‘80s. This has in part set me on a train of thought as to why we value the freedom of dance so highly and what it means in the now. As both a DJ and event promoter, the intuitive nature of dance often leaves the question as to why we are drawn to rhythm unanswered.

What does the science say? Anthropologists and scientists agree that synchronized beats engage us on two distinct levels at both ear and brain, provoking a double kick of serotonin. A movement triggered natural double drop. Combine this with the social benefits of dance as a communicative function and it becomes clear why dance has a had a place in cultures throughout human history. There is even evidence that chimpanzees tap collectively in sequence communally. Dance it would seem is a primal instinct.

Growing up, I always found the R&S record label’s tagline ‘In Order To Dance’ strangely captivating. Almost like a promise that the record would give way to physical relief, a catalyst to dance itself. As members of the dance music community, we all have anecdotal tales of ‘that night’ when the whole crowd danced as one. For me these moments happened at Turnmills at 3am the first time I heard Instra:mental & Jonny L’s ‘Output 1-2’, at The End at the last Hardware as DJs tore through ‘90s techstep, Vromm dropping ASC & Synth Sense’s ‘Glimpse’ at one of our own events, the list goes on, no doubt clichés of my generation. This for me is lived culture and therefore art.

Covid-19 both threatens us and challenges us to engage our culture in new ways. I’m now beginning to see events based around table booking popping up akin to Jazz clubs, clearly a workaround on the venues parts and an attempt to restart the party. Artists are also talking up looking for ways forward, Om Unit tweeting “I’d love to play ‘seated music’ for a seated crowd in the UK” just this week. When we launched ONE.SEVENTY back in 2016, we were addressing a need to repackage our music and create a partially less clubby environment to explore the existing boundaries of the form. Ironically it maybe the restrictions imposed by Covid-19 on us as promoters that will create diverse new experiences that help us progress as a scene. Far from government it will be the creativity and ingenuity of the rave scene that will provide the life blood that keeps us going.

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