Ten Walls Could Use a History Lesson in Dance Music's LGBT Roots

Know your history, Mr. Walls.
Know your history, Mr. Walls.
Photo by George Martinez/gmartnx.com

Summer festival season isn't off to the best start for Ten Walls, AKA Marijus Adomaitis.

Creamfields, Sonar, PITCH, and Urban Art Forms have all dropped the Lithuanian producer from their bills following a recent homophobic Facebook rant in which he referred to the gay community as "people of different breed" and likened homosexuals to pedophiles, as reported by the Gay Star News last week.

Adomaitis has since removed the controversial post and apologized for his remarks, but it seems the damage is done. After the fierce and ongoing backlash from the electronic dance music community, Ten Walls has canceled all forthcoming international shows. 

This isn't the first controversy of its kind this year either. Back in February, EVOLVEFest, billed as the "Northeast’s leading transformational/transitional culture gathering," was canceled in the aftermath of homophobic comments made by founder and CEO David Bryson.

Now regarding Ten Walls' recent homophobic debacle, the irony that shouldn't be lost on anyone familiar with his discography is that, prior to his 2014 international breakthrough with techno chart-topper "Walking With Elephants," he was producing nu-disco as Mario Basanov. And with their vintage slow-mo disco grooves and soul-infused vocals, Basanov tracks like "Do You Remember" and "Lonely Days" take a page straight from the playbook of Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage sound.

Whether he's aware of it or not, the work of Marijus Adomaitis is exceedingly indebted to a dance-music culture firmly rooted in the American gay community. The late great Larry Levan, widely considered the godfather of dance-club culture and the DJ art form as we know it today, was gay — as are David Mancuso and Nicky Siano, two other seminal DJs of Levan's era.

House music, for that matter, was spawned in '80s Chicago by gay pioneering DJ/producers Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy and was carried into the '90s by gay DJ icons like Derrick Carter, Danny Tenaglia, and Junior Vasquez.

Disco and house music culture emerged as a haven for marginalized gay and ethnic minority communities — the dance floor a virtual sanctuary where people of all races, sexual orientations, and creeds could be accepted as one. And at its best, electronic dance music culture has continued to carry the torch of peace, love, unity and respect (PLUR) into the new millennium.

Simply put, there is no place for bigotry in dance music. So Marijus Adomaitis and other homophobes staking their place in this culture as industry professionals would do well to brush up on its history and cultivate some respect for its roots and humanitarian ethos.

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