August 9, 2016 by DJ Elroy
A few weeks ago the ‘Back to Vinyl’ tour rolled through Denver with two of my all-time favorites — Bad Boy Bill and Richard Vission — spinning back to back with an all-vinyl set, “NO SYNC BUTTONS-NO SOFTWARE-NO LOOP BUTTONS-JUST SKILL”. This sounded like it could be worthy of those amazing House Connection tours back in the day, right? I was fortunate enough to catch them together and individually multiple times in the late 1990s and early 2000s and figured this just might be my last chance to see them mixing on four turntables again. How could I not go?
So I went.
Sure, it was fun. But it was just another night at the club. This could have been something really special, but it wasn’t. Is it me that’s changed? Or is it something else? The music? The scene? What’s different?
So on the drive home I put on an old Deep Dish mix to decompress and reflect.
Here are a few things I forced myself to admit:
First, I’m old.
I expected to see some faces from my rave days, and I did, but not as many as I’d hoped. People grow up. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say they grow out of the scene. They move on. Some try to hold on to the past. Others let it go completely. But nobody is the same person they were 15 or 20 years ago.
And of all the kids on the dancefloor that night, how many of them had never even experienced a live all-vinyl set before? It’s hard to imagine. Hell, I bet a lot of them hadn’t even been born when Bad Boy Bill took his first paying gig…
Second, times change.
You’ve got to stay ahead of the curve.
Well, maybe not. The more I thought about it, the less sure I was that that’s really accurate anymore. Used to be as a DJ you’d have to be constantly pushing the envelope, searching out fresh music and being the first to break new tunes.
But now there’s such a rich and diverse history of house music and techno and everything else that there’s a niche market for “throwback” sets. And that’s what I was hoping this show would be.
But it wasn’t.
Sure, they played some old stuff, but not the stuff that got them where they are today. I wanted to hear music from when they (and the US rave scene) were at their peak. Tunes from around the turn of the century, that era when house music found itself and really away from the simplistic pounding repetitiveness but before the digital revolution and all the genres (read: big room and electro house) that washed in with it.
Finally, there’s no going home again.
As much as I love house music, and as skilled a team as Bad Boy Bill and Richard Vission make, I didn’t feel that same magic I felt on their House Connection tours. Sure, something sparked a few times in my soul, but it never really caught fire, it never took hold.
I decided I was a fool for trying to relive my youth.
Everything has passed me by. I don’t think there’s anything that I’ll love as much as those lost years. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn’t just about the music at all. Sure, it was all held together by the tunes, but the scene was so much more than that. It was about friends. Who was going to be at the party? Who was bringing what? Where was everyone going to meet? What about the after-party? It was about the scene. PLUR. Community. Mappoints. Fashion. And DJing was mysterious. You couldn’t get new music online; you had to dig thru bins at second-hand stores or buy mixtapes out of trunks at rave parking lots. DJing was still new and exciting. It took time and effort to discover new artists to follow. It was rewarding, not taken for granted like today.
And as I showered up and went to bed early the next morning, I decided that yes, I’d changed. But so did the scene. And the music. And the friends. And the community.
The question I’m asking myself now is can I live with all these changes and enjoy things like I used to?