It is said, the body’s natural response to music is dancing.
The first Saturday in May masquerades as the first Saturday in March. Way too cold and way too wet. Electronic Dance Music pathos suggests the month of May belongs to Detroit’s Movement Festival, still dubbed DEMF, as the month of March to the Winter Music Conference. Detroit’s home-grown finest, techno music thumps from Midwest assembly lines down to the outhouses in the Dirty South. One of Detroit Techno’s many distributors, DEMF’s original artistic director, touched down and schooled a certain southern hospitable metropolis-the city too busy partying to hate-on true techno music.
The problem started with the rain. No the real problem dated back to the original E-blast. The boys of Project B announced their one year anniversary gig. Following in the footsteps of their past soirees with Stacey Pullen and Kevin Saunderson, another Detroit Techno legend would grace the hardware at a trendy restaurant turned night club afterhours. The problem? The oblong-shaped, shoebox, restaurant keeps a limited crowd capacity. Not the place for a living legend, who plays packed festivals and stadiums worldwide, to whip his techno wizardry. Already buzzing ears were on alert to anticipate a few unwanted encounters.
Enter Carl Craig. The forty-something Detroit Techno ambassador appears rock star, looking relatively youthful. He shows face wearing expensive solar shields and sporting an authentic black leather jacket. Style shows the man comes to throw down.
“Atlanta. Can I take you on a journey of future sounds?”
“Yeah!” The drunken debauchery responds.
Perhaps the future of electronica rests in the hands of the narrative. Its voice a symmetric hybrid of deep house intersects minimal techno. The sound sphere plays excursion to preconceived notions of any expected playlist traded for the spontaneity of open-mindedness.
Obviously, the shoebox is pack, too pack, with bodies slammed from wall to wall. Forget about trying to meander through the density of mass. Forget about busting your favorite dance move. Forget about trying to consume the drink in your hand. Forget about doing anything that falls outside the category of standing stiff and staring directly into the blond hair in your face while you are elbowed in the head, jabbed in the back, pushed to the side and your kicks stepped on.
Over a deep treat Marvin Gaye sings “Ain’t That Peculiar.” Yes. How peculiar to show up at a dance party and have no room to dance.
One or two printed Detroit garbs dot the room. Some spectators appear to show-up only for the word, “techno.” Most of the monochromatic crowd appears hell bent to fist pump than actually pop and lock. Later, their wish is granted as the music builds into the atmosphere, disappears into gravity and then drops on their heads like barometric pressure. Tomahawks appear. Sorry. A Braves baseball game this is not. However, the crowd loves it. They respond, “Fuck Yeah” experiencing some peculiar eargasms.
“That was the new Moodymann.” Carl shouts into the microphone after the third song plays. Detroit Techno fans in the know respond with enthusiastic cheer.
“The year 1995 just called the year 2013 and she wants her house music back,” says a giddy graphic designer wrapped in the arms of heavenly bliss. Her house music compass is only one year off. A dub of Detroit’s Inner City & Kevin Saunderson’s “Share My Life” rams into action with classic chords thumping on all fours.
“That’s got to be my favorite song.” The Detroit giant pledges as the song fades into the next tack by Suburban Knights.
The Planet E imprint founder plays professor to the crowd of students. “I’m playing the same music that I would play in Berlin. Atlanta, that means I’m being inspired.”
Awww. Sweet sentiments. The crowd responds with approval.
“Earlier, I played for you my favorite song. Now I’m going to play for you the first song I ever played as a DJ. It was at a family reunion in Athens. Ha.”
Again the crowd goes wild.
“If I lost you on the last song then I will lose you on this one. Atlanta, can I go deep?”
The crowd goes apeshit.
“Honestly, if it wasn’t for this song here, there would be no techno music.”
The crowd goes silent.
“There would not be half of the hip hop songs you hear.”
A pin can be heard dropping to the floor.
“Certainly, I wouldn’t be hear.”
Egyptian Lover’s “Egypt Egypt” the original electro/hip hop song plays.
What the? The crowd is completely lost in translation. Maybe 1980’s nostalgia is not their song and dance. Sadly, they fail to realize…..
“People have no manners.” A local DJ notes. Somewhere within the hour the drunks grow ever obnoxious. Too many drunks in a tiny confide guarantees disturbance of peace. The scene grows bedlam. Someone gets punched in the face. And someone is banned from the venue. Across the room a father dances with his twenty-six years of age daughter. “She’s a DJ,” the buzzed dad brags. “And she’s pretty good.” The daughter’s drunken boyfriend sadly stares in disbelief and tries to make since out of this mess. By the event’s end the daughter’s father ditches her and the boyfriend for the bar as she whips out and spins glow sticks.
“The vibe is different tonight.” The local DJ notes. “Till next time. Peace out.”
Bombastic blasts accompanying sonic sounds bumps and bruises the room.
“Turn around,” commands the giddy graphic designer wiping tears from her eyes. “He played Strings of Life!!!”
The tiny room is still pack with flesh. Sweat and sex play in the air. The DJ’s wife offers a round of drinks to dancers. There is an extra inch of dance space as the true dancers gobble it up like the hot commodity it is. Once again, deep house plays host before the night’s explosive Detroit Techno anthem, UR’s “Hi Tech Jazz” will send a person to the podiatrist with a plantar fasciitis. OUCH!!! That’s the power of house music. It can hurt you.
“Where’s the techno?” yells an out-of-towner. This too is the power of Detroit Techno, its sound is not boxed.
Carl Craig’s forward march into futurism proved a promising focal point. Even greater, his educating the audience was priceless. The chaos juxtaposed against the sound track deemed all too nauseous. Next go round, should the music shine solo in the spotlight with greater emphasis on dance space is a must for positive impact. After all, the event’s dilemma left no doubt as to the choice of music or genres played as the question posed, “What happens when you experience inspiring music that the body is unable to respond to?”
Words and Photography by AJ Dance