Electronic dance music is currently in the midst of a major crisis in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Six drug-related deaths during this year's Time Warp festival resulted in an indefinite city-wide ban of "all commercial activity involving dancing with live and recorded music," effectively bringing the party to a grinding halt in Latin America's house and techno capital.
One local who sees through his government's ill-founded and draconian new measures, however, is Hernan Cattaneo, Argentina's foremost electronic dance music ambassador and a celebrated DJ on the wider global scene.
"Drugs are a big issue here, and no one is facing the matter in a real way," Cattaneo tells New Times. "Unfortunately, in my opinion, part of the local press and other sectors involved took the wrong side by helping to spread the idea that electronic music is the problem instead of highlighting the real causes of this tragedy."
Of course, as a DJ veteran of some three decades, Cattaneo was around to help cultivate the truly world-class electronic dance music scene in Buenos Aires from the ground up.
"Around '88, when the DJs of my generation took control of some clubs in the city, it was at the same time as the global explosion of house music," he reminisces, "a fantastic time to be around. It wasn't an overnight success in Argentina, but we really pushed, and by 1992 we made the scene a really great one with the help of the first wave of international DJs coming over to play, like Paul Oakenfold, Graeme Park, Darren Emerson, David Morales, and many more. We turned what had always been a strong club culture into a really good house music scene."
Because of its deeply embedded culture, it's not hard to be optimistic about a near-future when the Buenos Aires ban on electronic dance music is lifted and the beat can go on. But in the meantime, we should all consider ourselves lucky that Mr. Cattaneo's passport is in order and he's headed to our neck of the woods for a special Art Basel performance this week.
"It's a great privilege to be able to travel for 20 years now, playing the best shows in the world," he says. "And Miami has always been a top destination for me, from my first WMC in 2000 with Paul Oakenfold to the boat shows we do every year with Nick Warren."
International fans will also be stoked to know that the globetrotting DJ phenom will most likely be coming their way in 2017 as well.
"I'm working on my next Balance album at the moment," he discloses. "It will come out late January, so that will make the start of a big tour starting in Australia and Southeast Asia in January, India in February, U.S. in March, South America and Europe in April, Japan in May, and then Europe and U.S. again in the summer."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
"The Sudbeat showcases have been going really well also," he adds. "So we are planning to do more in 2017, in different parts of the globe, and of course the weekly radio podcast as well."
As for Saturday, it will be Cattaneo's first headlining show at Do Not Sit on the Furniture and a fine chance to catch this esteemed selector in his element.
"I'm very excited to finally play at Do Not Sit," he says. "All my DJ friends told me great things about it, and I've been there a few times but never got to do my own show, so I'm sure it will be special. Small clubs are always the best because of the intimacy and eye contact, not to mention Behrouz in charge. It's always great when DJs own the clubs, so you know every detail is really on point. I really can't wait."
Hernan Cattaneo with Alan Epps and Nii Tei. 10 p.m. Saturday, December 3, at Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach; 510-551-5067; facebook.com/DoNotSit. Tickets cost $40 plus fees via residentadvisor.net.