Ibiza is the most important dance music location in the world. Not just because it is an island music paradise in the Mediterranean, or because it has the most massive insane ridiculous nightlife in the world. Nor is it just because of all the scantily-clad hot European women who travel there to have a good time. No, the fact is that Ibiza has been a laboratory for DJs and music producers in the summer for THIRTY years!
Before dance music could be found dropping massive beats and crazy trance climaxes, Ibiza has been rockin’ out to disco since the 70s. And that evolved into 80s electronic pop, which evolved into 90s Euro dance, which has evolved into today’s dance music. Every major DJ goes to Ibiza in the summer to spin. Ibiza is the nest that makes all of this music from Italo-disco to Acid House hatch. Ibiza is the mecca. Make your pilgrimage.
B. The Categorization Conundrum
If you ask me, there are WAY too many sub-genres of dance. For the dedicated hard-core fans and their DJs, it is very important to have so many different categories because everyone wants to feel like they are doing something unique in the dance world. “Oh, my music isn’t house music use, it’s techno house!” Or, “I’m not a trance artist, my music is more Dutch trance meets garage meets dubstep meets jungle.” Shut. Up. Please!
One of the reasons dance music isn’t that respected in the US, despite its popularity in pockets of the country, is because no one can categorize it and understand it. It is too unruly and amorphous for people. Is it techno? It is house? Is it trance? Is it drum and bass? What the hell do you call all of this music that has these beats and these synths and these electronic sounds?
Dance music could really learn a lesson from hip hop with regard to categorization. Hip hop is a huge umbrella. For example, any hip hop fan will tell you that you couldn’t get two more different styles of hip hop than Will Smith and Jay-Z, but both have put out albums under the “hip hop” umbrella over the years. DMX and Queen Latifah: both hip hop artists, both vastly different styles. T-Pain and Talib Kweli: the auto-tune king vs. the lyrical champion – both hip hop. Eminem and E-40: Detroit and the Bay Area, vastly different styles, and yet both are labeled under hip hop.
The point is that there is a vast spectrum of hip hop music out there and fans know that despite the differences they are listening to one main category of music called “hip hop.”
Dance music doesn’t have that. In fact, dance music doesn’t even TRY to have that. The artists, who are in part responsible for the recognition of the music to the fans, have done a not-so-great job of picking a unified umbrella category. In fact, to the contrary, the artists have contributed to the balkanization of dance music genres by being so territorial and adamant about the uniqueness of their music; or perhaps it is their fans. I can’t prove it one way or another, but it’s one of the two.
The problem is that in the United States, dance music is not respected by your average American. It’s just not. You can argue until you are blue in the face, but be real, ask your friends, and most think it is called, “Techno.” They think it is a lot of “oooonce oooonce oooonce” and has no redeeming musical qualities. Eminem even wrote lyrics dissing Moby specifically yelling, “Nobody listens to Techno.” Really? C’mon!
So, how do you convince a country that doesn’t respect your music to listen and to give it a chance? First, you start by figuring out how to explain it…properly. As a primer, let’s get one thing clear: Techno is not the big umbrella name for all of this music, it is a sub-genre the way that gangsta rap would be a sub-genre of hip hop. Not all hip hop is gangsta rap. Not all dance music is techno.
Second, there is a broad range of dance or electronic music. Black Eyed Peas falls under the umbrella, so does Daft Punk, so does Chemical Brothers, so does Basement Jaxx, so does Faithless, so does Madonna. Not all the artists’ styles are the same, but if we figure out a way to give the genre an umbrella title then people will recognize these artists as being a part of the genre, thus demystifying it and perhaps making it more appealing to the average listener.
Third, there needs to be more information and attachment to the artists. Dance music artists are so poorly known and marketed in the US that it is ridiculous. There is so little information about each artist that it is virtually impossible to build a bond or any kind of loyalty to one DJ/producer. I have a friend who has gone to over 30 something Dave Matthews Band Concerts. 30! He knows everything about DMB and has probably spent thousands of dollars on DMB related schwag, tickets, and CDs over the years. This is a rare phenomenon in US dance circles.
My hope is that The Hot Six will help, in part, to solve this problem. One of the goals is to educate the average music fan about dance music and to present artist information and history to give people a sense of what all this craziness is about. There is a lot of great music in this genre and it would be a shame for people to dismiss because they know so little about it.
“Back to the lecture at hand,” a single name for the genre of music that has this electronica soul but that makes you want to dance. Electronica isn’t totally accurate. Downbeat and chill music could be electronica. It’s not really EDM or electronic dance music because there are plenty of tracks out there – I’m specifically thinking of Latin tracks – that are not entirely electronically produced or synthesized. It’s….just….dance….music. Dance. Club dance. Not ballroom dance. Not ballet dance. Not cha cha dance. Dance at a party dance. Hip hop can make you dance, but it already has a category name. I suppose if we wanted to focus on a couple of sub-genres, I would say The Hot Six focuses on house and trance. But, again, I don’t want to miss the bigger point.
This is dance music. And the following six tracks exemplify that in my opinion. Could they be house? Yes. Could they be trance? Sort of, maybe, kinda, perhaps not really. But, really, when educating fans on this music, why go that route. It’s like explaining advanced trigonometry to someone trying to learn basic math. The basic fact is that this is dance music. Period. Am I happy about the name? Not really. Would it be cool to call all of this music some kind of awesomeness like “Bounce Booty” or “Fresh Hop” or “Scoobiddy Doobiddy.” Of course. But, we don’t have that luxury. So let’s just call it dance and we’ll worry about the sub-categories later.
Remember, enjoy, let me know what you think, leave comments, and tell me what you’re listening to!
1. Live Your Life – Erick Morillo and Eddie Thoneick ft. Shawnee Taylor
2. We Are California (Fred Lilla Bootleg Remake) – Dirty South
3. Step by Step (Big Room Mix) – Laidback Luke & Gregor Salto ft. Mavis Acquah
4. Tonight (IMS Anthem 2009) (Above & Beyond Remix) – Dirty Vegas
5. Your Freedom – Spit
6. Night @ The Black (HCCR Bambossa 2009 Remix) – Harry Choo Choo Romero
Keep it Hot!