Wow, it’s been quite a while since the last post… Although I’ve been absent for some time from the cybernets, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to spend the last two weeks between the Big Easy and Miami, during WMC, the largest dance music gathering in America. My brief time in New Orleans was highlighted by a party I attended for LA Record Label Body High, one of the new kids to the already diverse indie-dance label scene, but what also a potential progenitor of the new world of underground dance music. While in 2006 Garcia was writing about the predominately underground genre of minimal (or minimale in France), by 2011 minimal music had largely become incorparated into the dance mainstream. For example, during WMC (Winter Music Conference), the aformentioned Miami dance music gathering, the scene was largely divided between the Mainstream at Ultra Music Festival and the Underground at Sunday School, which would take the Ultra weekend and throw a mini-festival with popular minimal and underground dance artists. However this year, one can see that many of the “underground” artists that played Sunday School last year were at “mainstream” Ultra this year. Essentially, in the past year we have seen the underground dance music scene in America shift predominately from minimal to a style that is much less definable. While minimal tracks were known for their heavy emphasis on using only a bass, a pad, and drums, labels like Body High are churning out a range of material that could be classified as descending from genres ranging from hip hop to dub to soul. Perhaps the only criteria underground labels now follow, is that they avoid the sounds and arrangements of currently popular mainstream dance/pop acts such as Avicci, Tiesto and Afrojack. This revelation on the current state of dance music’s underground also surprised me further when I headed to Ultra. While last year, the crowd still seemed somewhat centered around more traditional rave cliches, such as furry boots, beads and the like, 2012’s crowd was a stark contrast. This year, most festival glowers were not only younger, in the teens/twenties, but dressed in much more convetnial spring break attire. While it may be expected that not everyone would be wearing hundreds of beads, what was particularly surprising was the amount of people dressed nearly entirely in Ultra branded clothing. One of the most popular articles of clothing were the sunglasses which were nearly ubiquitious and covered here. While they were apparently free, personally, getting something for free doesn’t make me any more likely to wear it. Even at some of the formally underground artists’ shows, the crowd appeared much more mainstream, albeit rather than a typical spring break scene it was more an authentic/wannabee euro-jet set crowd.
While difficult to see in the above photo as the lighting was tough, the crowd at the Raleigh hotel on Miami 22 was filled with varying imitations of the steritupical wealthy male who wears his hair in a ponytail. Since the party was nearly impossible to get into even with a name on the guest list, it was particularly surprising how few females were let into the club where IDM magazine Resident Advisor’s number 1 DJ, Jamie Jones was playing. While there is certainly going to be more followup on some of my actions and interactions during the Winter Music Conference, what I think is most important to take away is the firsthand realization of another drastic departure within the current American Dance Music scene.