You Can’t Really Appreciate Dance Music Unless You’ve Done Drugs – Discuss‏

My mother once asked why I took drugs when clubbing.
Can you not, she queried, enjoy the sounds without the need to load yourself up with pills and powders? Is dancing to great tunes in and of itself not enough? I’m not sure whether she asked out of genuine curiosity or a subconscious dread that I’d eventually OD and was alerting me to her concern. Perhaps both, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t stop and I never OD’d. But the question is one I’ve heard several times before and since. Can one appreciate dance music without having done drugs? Yet it’s the wrong question. Or rather, it’s redundant since it misses the point entirely.
When I first went to Future/Spectrum, I took nothing. I didn’t drink, snort or neck anything. I could have been the poster girl for all that was pure and virtuous about clubbing, if such a thing existed, if it weren’t for the fact that I was addicted to nicotine. Nonetheless, I happily danced like a dervish. Pre-acid house, it was the Wag, the Beat Route and numerous other clubs and, again, much dancing, no stimulants. My older siblings and their friends, clubbers through the ’70’s and ’80’s, also partied for hours at the likes of Maunkberrys, Louise’s and Caister, more often than not with nothing more than a drink in their hand. Of course clubbers back then did get high, speed and coke being the preferred choices for obvious reasons (availability and environment) but to suggest that they wouldn’t have enjoyed the music without them is wholly inaccurate. If that was and is the case, dance music and clubs would have died a death many years ago. The soundtrack then was disco, jazz-funk, soul, Afro-beat and, in the case of Steve Lewis at the Beat Route, an even more eclectic mix. I still get a buzz when I hear Odyssey’s ‘Native New Yorker’ or Teena Marie’s ‘Behind The Groove’ or Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow, Tears and Blood’, in the same way that Phuture’s ‘Acid Trax’, Speedy J’s ‘The Fun Equations’ or React 2 Rhythm’s ‘Intoxication‘ can make my heart and feet beat that much faster.
As far as ‘appreciating’ dance music is concerned, either you do or you don’t. Give me the most potent, most pure E ever produced and death metal will still sound like five kinds of crap to me. A pill isn’t going to give me an appreciation of a music I already dislike. What E did was make the music I already did like sound even better, gave me the energy to dance for hours and made me feel pretty damn good all over. And therein lies the essence. The question isn’t whether drugs allowed the music to be enjoyed but, if it made it so much more enjoyable, so what? If it prompted those who would never have danced before to do so when they were pilled up, who cares? Derrick May, perhaps, who apparently objected to the heavy drug use in the European rave scene but, hey, that’s just how it was. What was unusual was the sheer scale of it, the phenomenal numbers of people who gravitated towards and embraced it. Were they all avid dance music fans pre-1988? Unlikely but what does it matter?
In answer to my mother, I replied with a question of my own. When you’re out to dinner and the food and company are good, I said, why do you need to drink? Are the food and company not enough in and of themselves? Because it makes it more enjoyable, she replied.
If anyone has suggestions of topics for D to consider, please add them to the comments.

~ by acidted on June 20, 2012.

One Response to “You Can’t Really Appreciate Dance Music Unless You’ve Done Drugs – Discuss‏”

  1. They definitely added to the whole experience. Some nights they were the experience. I’m sure there were records I’d never have liked or been indifferent to without them. It was the way they put you inside the music that really worked.

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