The past year has been rough for dance music, not just locally but worldwide. Dance labels and distributors have gone under left and right, along with many of New York's and Europe's super-club institutions. Attendance has been down in every scene, and if some events and promoters are still drawing good-sized crowds, the pool of devotees is much smaller. Here's how you can expect the party scene to adapt.
In response to the changing club economy, expect event promoters to start deviating from the formula. Big-name out-of-town producers no longer attract the numbers to justify the huge DJ fees they demand, so the emphasis will shift toward local DJs.
More and more, promoters will team up to present events in order to expand their audiences and share costs.
One of the biggest factors in the local scene over the past couple of years has been corporate-sponsored mega-events -- market research disguised as parties. Whether you're for or against this strategy, it's impossible to ignore the trend's impact.
Come October 1, 2003, legislation will come into effect outlawing all tobacco sponsorship of arts and entertainment, which will spell the end of Goldclub's reign.
Whether independent mega-events will end up filling the gap is anyone's guess, but one thing is for sure: without sponsorship, parties featuring multiple superstar DJs performing on the same night will be impossible to pull off profitably.
In the coming months, marijuana will be decriminalized in Canada, which will finally redirect enforcement efforts away from the easily detected smell of ganja and toward more serious but more easily hidden habits.
Clubs won't take the chance of attempting to sell the demon weed (30 grams wouldn't go far anyway), but some will become much more relaxed about smoking on the premises. Although no one likes to admit it, changing drug use influences what type of music is popular, so the deeper, mellower aspects of the culture may get a much-needed booster shot, not to mention the growing revisionist dub reggae scene.
winds of change
Despite tough times in clubland, a handful of new, younger promoters have popped up in the past year, and all of them are hungry and motivated. Look for names like Solma and Pixelate to make an impression, and Flirt Entertainment will be active as well, though probably under a new name.
New blood is what the scene needs more than anything else. The hardcore audience tends to dwindle after a few years, when many retire, and the all-ages scene is almost non-existent.
Too many promoters have tried to portray their events as "for the old-school heads" without realizing that many of these people now have kids and careers and aren't going to be partying every weekend -- especially not several nights in one weekend.
Lots of DJs and promoters are trying to tap into the 80s revival that swept dance music this year, and that trend will continue.
On the other hand, the short-lived and unavoidable electroclash trend will have disappeared into the "whatever happened to" category by this time next year. Expect the re-evaluation of the 80s to expand beyond the new wave and electro currently enjoying popularity to include R&B, early hiphop, early house and post-punk disco.