Subculture: You VS. The DJ

You’re at home, getting ready for a good old fashion goth-night on the town (I like to call it, getting spooky ;) you’re pulling out your best outfit and posting your RSVP on facebook so that all of your friends know where to find you ; you’ve put on your “music to for club time” playlist and now you’re thinking to yourself, man, I wish the DJ would play this song…it would be so great to hear it at the club…I think everyone would like this song.

Well, you’re wrong.

Club patrons, myself included, are some of the snobbiest people around when it comes to what they want to dance to. They are the ultimate judge, which, if you know some of those people… definitely should not be the judge of anything. Of course, if anyone is to blame for the music selection, it’s the DJ right?

Wrong again.

Modern DJs, successful ones anyway (in a top (goth) 40s kind of way,) are merely the creative force behind the request list. Now, that is not to say that it is not a talent, and that DJs don’t really do anything, because they do – what I am saying is that people want to hear a certain set of songs, and it is hard to break them away from what they are used to dancing to. So if you’re ever sitting at the club thinking, goddamn I am tired of hearing the same songs every weekend, you will now know why. Drunk people don’t know the difference between a good song or a bad song as long as it’s catchy and they know the words, which is a lot of reason you hear things like She Wants Revenge or Ladytron at a grown up’s goth club – because they will dance to it, and in a pinch, that’s what you have to do to get people back on the floor.

Any DJ that has been in the scene for awhile, and is not a complete idiot, should know what selection of songs will get people to dance and what not to play. I have DJed, recently, with some DJs that don’t quite understand it yet, why people don’t like their 148BPM power-tech/aggro hybdrid jams. While, I could probably dance to it (because I’m from the techno generation,) most people are put off by its aggressiveness. People here in Portland especially, like it really slow compared to what I would prefer, but unfortunately, the majority will always win at a successful goth night. Although I am 22 and vibrantly ready to dance to nothing but the harshest EBM around - a majority of the crowd isn’t. In fact, a majority of the crowd hovers in the average of 30 years old, which seems like a short 8 years from me, but is a lifetime in taste.

A little secret for those of you who are trying to cheat the system and get one or two good quality industrial songs out of a dance night that is primarily futurepop from 2000: get chummy with the DJ. Find yourself a good quality song that fits all of the criteria needed to satisfy those who are less in tune with good music, and is still catchy and danceable. Write it on the request list every hour or so, every time you go out – eventually they will get fed up and buy the CD, or download that one track you want and play it. Don’t be surprised if the DJ applies the Combichrist theory.

**Sidenote: The Combichrist Theory:

The Combichrist theory states that any semi aggressive to full on aggrotech/harshEBM song should be preceded by a Combichrist song to trick patrons into dancing to songs that they are familiar with (pick any song, they’re all the same anyway,) and then hit them with the new/unheard song directly after. The effect causes confusion and sometime delusional behavior, which also manages to trap people on the dance floor without them knowing the song changed. It’s a pretty effective tool, with the exception of applying it to a futurepop or slower song. **

So, what I’ve learned, over the last year or so, is to accept the fact that 90% of the music that you will hear at the most popular dance night in your city (where all of the people are,) is going to be mostly the same bands with the same songs singing the same lyrics to the same people – but you don’t have a choice. You cannot change it. It’s the same to say that I agree with the “people’s” decision that VNV Nation cleaned house at the Side-Line Music Awards this year. You don’t have to agree with it, you just have to suck it up and dance to what you get. Bribe the DJs to play that one Aesthetic Perfection song that you like so much (that is a compliment, not a bash, AP is amazing,) or just choose any Skinny Puppy song you prefer (also not a bash.)