Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Society And The Spectacle

As we stand on the threshold of another year, spare a thought for those going out tonight. I've just seen on the BBC News that house parties are where it's at. That is staying at home, having some mates around, or just family, eating, drinking and making merry. Has it ever been the reliable option to go out on New Year's Eve though? The last time I remember doing it was for the millennium celebrations when I was over in Paris. We spent the few hours leading up to midnight at a friends, eating, drinking and making merry, then we walked the short distance to Montparnasse, which afforded us a splendid view of the Eiffel Tower and its firework display, after which we took a cab across town to Bastille and went to a few parties in lofts and studios. OK, not exactly clubs, and no money changed hands . . .so maybe we didn't go out after all. Having thought about it for a little more I'm left wondering if I've ever been out on New Year's Eve. . .

. . .but that's only if "going out" means going clubbing, which is something I haven't done for a couple of years. I haven't shut the door on it but I wonder what's in it for me. One person who shows no sign of throwing in the towel is my aborted November interviewee Harvey, who plans to play Tokyo tonight. He also makes some very obvious, but simultaneously informative, points about the relationship between DJing and performance. This put me in mind of something A Guy Called Gerald said when I interviewed him back in 2008 (it's about halfway down the chat). I've never been to a club expecting to do anything else but socialise, tap off, drink, take drugs and listen to good music (order not important); which is just as well because, for the most part, you're lucky if you're allowed all of those nowadays. It depends where you're from of course. In the UK, despite our creativity and appetite for new experiences, there's always been too much of an authoritarian feel to clubbing. The licensing laws played a big part in this, and continue to wherever they can get a foothold. I suppose the entertainment element for men, at least, revolved around trainspotting to a certain extent, and watching the DJs fingers deftly flex, extend and retract. Not my idea of a good night out, but I can't say I've never done it. It always amazed me how much time certain individuals had for the hangers-on and deck parasites that would crowd them out. The last time I saw Mark Farina he was dignity personified, (this was a while back, and he could have changed I suppose), showing the records off and even fitting in a few words between his silky smooth transitions. I remember that I bumped into him the day before I saw him, in Black Market Soho. He didn't know me from Adam but he introduced me to his wife and took time out to chat as if I was an old friend.

Generally though, clubbers are treated as badly, if not worse than football fans for the most part. Not content with wanting to them pay through the nose for the privilege of buying massively overpriced beverages, they are shunted, cattle-like through the night on a conveyor belt of doom that could make that of the early Ford assembly plants seem appealing. As has already been touched on, I write this from a UK perspective, where the institutionalisation of doing such things has been locked in accordance with the law and the Daily Mail school of moralising for so long that most people wouldn't know a good time if it skull-fucked them. Going out these days isn't what it used to be. You're not treated like a proper adult in a lot of places, and monitored by security who aspire to the sergeant's role in "Full Metal Jacket", without the delivery. I'm hoping for a return to the rave in the next few years. As we enter uncertain political and economic times the brand might drop its guard and the corporate nature of what going out has largely become will hopefully evaporate and then, as Bill Hicks said:

"The world is like a ride at an amusement park. It goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: Is this real, or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, "Hey - don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because, this is just a ride..." But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok. Jesus - murdered; Martin Luther King - murdered; Malcolm X - murdered; Gandhi - murdered; John Lennon - murdered; Reagan... wounded. But it doesn't matter because: It's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money. A choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money that we spend on weapons and defenses each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

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