Being a DJ – or a curator, a filterer, an MTG (musical tour guide – I just made that up), whatever you want to call it – can still be an elevated, difficult, aspirational thing, like an Olympic athlete or an opera singer. You can seek out old masters of the craft: Frankie Knuckles and David Morales had Cielo on its knees a few weeks back. Or you can challenge the current DJ crop to show their chops, like when a movie star does a Broadway play, or a pop artist goes unplugged: Can you play a six-hour club set? Do you even want to?
Despite the influx of trend pieces and corpo-fest announcements, I think I finally realized “EDM” was mainstreaming when a former co-worker, bro-y in an innocuous sense, told me he wanted to try his hand at being a “house DJ.” I don’t think our definitions of house are the same thing; and that’s not turning my nose up — just a comment on the shift in definition (in popular constitution?) of a style of music so fervent in its identity as house.
This is a good riposte to the EDM alarmists though, basically pointing out that electronic music culture’s communal tendencies are its lifeblood. Since my early-20s I’ve attended a bunch of house music parties with my best friend’s older brother, Shawn. He’s a dance til 6 a.m. kind of dude, used to attend infamous Toronto raves/jungle parties back in the day. The one thing that always strikes me about most of these parties is that most everyone is 30 and up resulting in that jolt of, ‘oh yeah, I’m the young person here.’ If there is any scene to have faith in keeping on, it’s dance music - the fans who’ve been hooked will find other/new outlets that outlast the boom and the 30-year-old house heads will keep dancing.