The New Rock And Roll There I was, in the middle of the Lass Vegas desert at 5 in the morning watching the sunrise above the barriers of the Motor Speedway and over the mountains across the way. There was dance music pouring from the Dos turntables into the crowd with a bass line so groovy and loud my body was tingling from head to toe. Around me there were thousands of males and females of all ages from every race, sexuality, and religion cheerfully mingling through out the festival, Jumping in sync to the song, singing along to the lyrics as loud as they can, or dancing as if no one else is there.
There were bright neon lasers illuminating the sky desert above the crowd, huge LED screens surrounding the stage visualizing hallucinogenic images, and occasional fireworks went off in the sky that formed into a heart, smiley face, and sparkly circles. It was hard to ignore the strong emotional vibe of pure happiness, Joy, and excitement that was being carried on throughout the crowd. Suddenly, I mentally stepped back from everything going on to realize the bigger picture at that moment.
The image of electronic dance music has shifted from and unacceptable underground movement heavily associated with drugs to a socially accepted cultural phenomenon. Electronic dance music, or better known as EDM for short, is a genre of music that is generally produced by synthesizers, drum machines, sequencers, and/or production programs that are ran through computers. This genre of music consists of many different sub-genres such as house, techno, trance, drum ‘n’ bass, dub-step, hard-style, and electro that branch into other supporting genres.
To tell apart the difference of each sub-genre is by the sound and speed because they all are very extinct from each other. For example, techno music has a BPML (beats per minute) of 124 and a dominant synthesized bass throughout the whole song, when trance music has a mix of melodic strings, bass, and pianos at 140 beats per minute. The common root of all electronic dance music is that every song contains a repetitive drum pattern with off beat hi-hat cymbals, synthesized instruments, possibly the vocals of a soulful singer, and a fragmented bass line.
In contrast to other genres of music, electronic dance music is “always technology mediated” so for live performances disc jockeys use CD players or turntables to showcase their music in an continuous mix or blend of songs that is organized by sound key, tempo, and genre instead of having a few people with a guitar, bass, drum and keyboard perform live. Electronic Dance Music was created for nightclub settings or anywhere where dancing is the main form of entertainment. The genre of EDM was originally inspired by the disco music period in the sass’s.
After disco was born and when dance music started evolving, “Dos played a mixture of funk and soul at New York clubs such as Sanctuary, the Loft, he Haven, and the Gallery, where the majority of dancers were African American and gay’ (Butler 36). For a couple years the club scene was a “largely underground phenomenon,” then eventually around 1976 it began to pick up stream and spread throughout the country to cities such as Detroit, Los Angels, ton, San Francisco, and many more nightclubs began to appear. By 1980, there was a record of 150-200 new clubs alone in New York. Brewster 58) Soon enough, EDM even went international and started to gain popularity in Europe. However, the electronic dance USIA crowds at discotheques everywhere were commonly stereotyped by society as places for the homosexuals, African Americans, Latino, and drug users. In the movie Limelight, a documentary about the New York City electronic dance music scene in the mid-asses, shows the rise in dance culture, the many activities that would go on inside the clubs that hosted the music, and how state officials eventually started to get involved and try to control the scene.
Shortly after Peter Gating opened Limelight, the first original New York club night, dance nights began to take flight in popularity, 50,000 people were showing up every week”, from Goth-kids, to transvestites, to celebrities started appearing on the scene because the rumor of this club spread so quickly. In the movie, there are clips of people openly playing games such as “Guess This Mix” where the host of the game would put together a mix of drugs such as cocaine, astatine, and ecstasy and the participant would snort the line and guess what they Just took.
The nightclub image began to transform from a place where people can all get together and dance to a place where everyone goes to get high, have no rules, and be careless. Inside Limelight and other clubs that played any electronic dance music, were said to be an “open air drug market” because Just about every other person had some sort of hallucinogenic or methamphetamine available for sale. Eventually, the DEAD took notice of this scene and started conducting drug investigations within the clubs because drug trafficking crime rates were starting starting to go up in New York City.
After months of undercover investigation, Mayor Rudy Giuliani sent out narcotic cops to an apartment in lower Manhattan to discover two men with $40 million worth of Ecstasy. Giuliani called it “the largest seizure [of Ecstasy] in the metropolitan area” and said its influences of the widespread were because of New York nightclubs. Ultimately to relation to drugs, electronic dance music, and nightclubs began to draw attention from the United States Senate and a bill called the Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act was proposed and passed in 2001.
The stated purpose of the RAVE Act was: “A bill to prohibit an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for other purpose. ” Shortly after the bill was passed many nightclubs closed down and electronic dance music went back to original form of being strictly underground.
In the same time period that electronic dance music went underground in America, a new phenomenon was going as well, and that was the evolution of technology. Spreading information from one other was starting to become easier, making this a benefit to dance music. Electronic dance music activist started Joining together to host parties at empty warehouses, farms, and in the desert. To promote he party they would tell someone, who would tell someone else, who would e-mail it to a few people and create a list of attendees.
The people would have to drive to multiple locations to find clues of how to get to the raves because they had to do whatever they could to keep the authorities from finding out about the parties and crashing them. Eventually these secret parties caused electronic dance music to slowly start booming again. Because electronic dance music is created using technology and in the early sass’s it was quickly advancing, new producers came into the scene and started imputing their take on it.