exactly is it about electronic music that scares so many people?
And why are authorities in the United States and around the
world wasting so much time and money attacking rave parties
and other venues where this type of music is played?
may not have always understood or appreciated the music that young people
listened and danced to throughout the years, but it has at least begrudgingly
acknowledged the music as a legitimate cultural component. But something's
different with electronic music, and the worldwide crusade against the lifestyle
associated with it is alienating a significant segment of society and jeopardizing
the identity of current and future generations.
Growing up in communist East Germany has afforded Paul
van Dyk a unique perspective on the importance of music.
The ubiquitous DJ, producer and recording artist learned early
on in life that music can do more than just entertain and
inspire, it can also help convey important social and political
messages to the masses. The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
soon gave way to a thriving nightlife scene that allowed van
Dyk his first opportunity to fully experience the collective
power of music and the healing nature of dance. On his new
beat-mixed double-CD, Politics of Dancing, van Dyk taps into
this provocative energy to take listeners on an electronically-charged
voyage designed to open minds, invigorate bodies and sooth
was a very, very intense project to do," van Dyk says of his first
true mix CD, "It was probably one of the hardest things that I've ever
done in the studio." Citing the lack of interaction with a live audience
as the main reason he's avoided doing a DJ-mixed CD for so many years, van
Dyk was determined to create something extraordinary that employs not only
his talent as a DJ, but his exceptional skills as a producer and musician
as well. Slated for worldwide release on November 6th on Ministry of Sound's
new stand-alone U.S. label, the CD features van Dyk's exclusive remixes
of some of his favorite records as well as new versions of his own original
productions Out There, Vega and the previously unreleased Autumn.
a very different approach from other mix CDs," he explains. "I
just thought, Okay, which records would I like to be on there, and I wrote
them down very instantly without really thinking much about it." That
was the easy part. Then, after carefully analyzing the atmosphere and essence
of each track as well as the reason why he had chosen them, van Dyk began
the complicated process of sequencing the entire progression in his head.
He then remixed each song to fit his concept for the CD. Approximately two
months and more than 30 remixes later, Politics of Dancing was born.
no denying its immense entertainment value, but how is this particular CD
going to help change society's views on electronic music? By encouraging
dialogue about the cultural importance of electronic music and its accompanying
lifestyle, van Dyk hopes to promote a better understanding of the scene
while inspiring others to work towards the further integration and acceptance
of electronic music in mainstream media and society.
other cultural movement has captured the world as electronic music has in
the last 10-15 years?" van Dyk poses. "I don't know of any. As
a DJ, I can go to South Korea or Japan or the Philippines and play for people
with an absolutely different cultural background, yet they understand the
music; they connect. It's like a feeling of unification, a sort of coming
together of those different cultures." As is often the case, the actions
of a relatively small number of people are to blame for most of the problems
currently facing the electronic music scene. Negatively biased media coverage
and a number of highly publicized incidents of admittedly irresponsible
behavior has created a public perception that drug use at rave parties and
nightclubs is out of control. But van Dyk believes people are blowing things
way out of proportion.
still actually think that the whole drug issue in relation to clubbing is
absolutely over-hyped by the media," he claims. "There's not much
more drug use in a dance club than there is at a Hip-Hop concert, R&B
show or a Rock & Roll show. Closing down a place like Twilo is basically
just keeping the kids from being a part of this worldwide culture; it's
just basically taking New York off the map."
even if the drug problem is as bad as the media and authorities would have
us believe, raiding venues and harassing young patrons is certainly not
going to solve the problem. Instead, it will likely make things worse. Attempts
to remove this vital component of worldwide youth culture have already demoralized
countless participants and will no doubt result in far more serious consequences
down the road. This is a fairly obvious conclusion for most of us, but somehow
the message has been lost on many of the world's leaders and lawmakers.
"We have to make clear to [the authorities] that if there is drug abuse
going on, then it is a problem that has to be solved by society at large,"
van Dyk implores. "It's not only in the clubs - this is just a room
where they do it, but it's not why they're doing it."
one of the most sought after DJs in the world, van Dyk knows all too well
the devastating effects of this misguided governmental crusade. One of the
most recent casualties is Twilo, Manhattan's famous "temple of electronic
music" that was permanently shut down by New York officials amid a
media frenzy surrounding several high-profile drug overdoses at the club.
Paul van Dyk last played there in April, and he's anxious to spin in New
York again. "We're trying very hard to do something in New York and
I'm definitely looking forward to it," he says, "But there isn't
anything built up yet in New York that could fill [Twilo's] gap." He's
even considered investing his own money to put on an event in conjunction
with his Vandit record label, but efforts to secure a venue and the appropriate
permission from the city have thus far proven futile.
he went on a 9-city North American DJ tour in October that took him to such
unfamiliar destinations as Denver, Phoenix, Houston and Seattle. He'll return
to the U.S. at the end of the year, though, for highly anticipated New Year's
Eve gigs in Las Vegas, Phoenix and at Giant in Los Angeles. In the meantime,
he's working on the soundtrack for a forthcoming feature film writing theme
songs for the movie's principal characters. He'll also celebrate his 30th
birthday the week before Christmas by spinning at his bi-monthly vandit
party at Berlin's Casino nightclub.
It may not be a role he has consciously chosen, but
Paul van Dyk has become, in essence, an electronic music and
youth culture ambassador to the world. His mission to strengthen
and empower a community that is too often neglected is just
one of the many ways van Dyk gives back to the fans who have
supported him for so many years. His latest project, Politics
of Dancing, effectively underscores the many issues facing
the electronic music community while delivering an exquisite
and timely collection of uplifting music. Perhaps if detractors
would actually take the time to listen to his new CD and make
an effort to understand the cultural movement, they might
just figure out that electronic music is no more of a "threat
to western civilization" than the popular music of any